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Best Foot Forward

Best foot forward

Calhoun County, AL – Upgrades to basketball floor, stadium entrance are part of ‘big things happening at Wellborn people should see,’ just in time for school hosting county tournaments

Here is a rendering of the new basketball floor at Wellborn.
Here is a rendering of the new basketball floor at Wellborn.

By Al Muskewitz

Some time Wednesday afternoon, Weaver principal Andy Keith is going to gather up the big three-ring binder, the box with all the scorebooks from the basketball tournament and all the other resources associated with the Calhoun County Tournament program and hand them off to another Andy with a hearty “Here you go, big guy, have at it, it’s all yours.”

And just like that the torch will be passed.

But Andy Carpenter, the incoming chairman of the Calhoun County Principals and Coaches Association and host principal in charge of running next year’s county tournament program, will have a lot to show his peers as well.

There’s a lot going on at Wellborn that stands to enhance the immediate county tournament experience and the Panthers’ athletics program for years to come.

“We’re looking to do some things to modernize our athletics program and that starts with facilities,” Carpenter said. “We’re looking at doing some upgrades on the football stadium as well as the basketball floor, modernize something that really makes our kids take notice and the community take notice that we take what we do really seriously and we take pride in being from Wellborn.”

Carpenter hadn’t been on the job long but it didn’t take long for him to learn two very important things about his new world – the Calhoun County Tournament is very big deal and Wellborn people really care about Wellborn.

“Wellborn is a prideful community,” he continued. “If you are from Wellborn, you care about Wellborn, and that goes to people you run into at the gas station to the people who are active and donating their money and their time. You’ll hear me talk about the Panther family a lot. It’s the truth.”

What’s also the truth is the school is spending upwards of $20,000 to refurbish its basketball floor as part of a comprehensive facelift on the facility. Plans call for the surface to stripped down to the maple floor and then stained in traditional Wellborn colors with a big block W in the center. Any wording on the floor will be done in the natural wood color.

There also are plans to add padding below the baskets and install digital information boards above the concession stands.

“We have a first-class facility,” Carpenter said. “When people want to host tournaments they’re going to want to do it here because of the facility.”

Funding for the project was raised locally. The logos of two legacy partners will be prominently displayed in the foul lanes with the tradition partners embossed on the sidelines.

The project isn’t just limited to the gymnasium. There also are plans to upgrade the front entrance of the football stadium, replacing the current chain link fence with brick columns and approximately 170 feet of wrought iron fencing from the ticket booth to the pass gate.

“There are big things happening at Wellborn,” Carpenter said, “and we believe people should see those and see who we really are.”

The Panthers will have plenty of opportunity during the county tournament season. They’ll host the wrestling tournament and have the ability to host volleyball (before it moves to Jacksonville State) and the junior high basketball tournament.

Softball is expected to return to Woodland Park, golf to Pine Hill, and track and baseball to Choccolocco Park. They’re still working on a plan for soccer and cross country, neither of which they offer. Of course, the baseball and softball tournaments could be affected if the state goes through with its plan of having region play for those sports and squeezes the calendar.

It is a lot of work, but Carpenter is looking forward to it.

“Any time you take on a project as big as hosting the county tournament it’s a little bit daunting,” he said. “You’ve got some anxiety, but the guys who have done it in the past have it so well laid out.

“It’s an opportunity to show off what we’re doing at Wellborn. It will allow us to put our best foot forward to everybody in the county.”

Wednesday’s handover is Keith’s final act as host principal for the 2021-22 tournament season. He oversaw a program that returned to normal after a year under COVID, ran all the seeding meetings and ran series that made money in every tournament.

He did admit getting tired late in the process, especially in the final push when all the spring championships except baseball were conducted in the same week, but he wouldn’t change anything about it. Especially the part of passing it along when his year is over.

“The experience I had was good,” Keith said. “We didn’t have to worry about COVID restrictions, we were able to let everybody come in, the staff at Weaver was great and went above and beyond when needed. That made it a lot easier as far as logistics go.”

As far as any parting words for the new host, Keith said he tell Carpenter to avail himself of the resources of the wisdom of those who’ve come before him. [*** read more]

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