New equipment for the Lions

Sardis head football coach Gene Hill surveys the new racks, weights and other equipment in the weight room beside the varsity field house. All Lion male student-athletes began using the new equipment June 8, when the school launched on-campus workouts for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic stopped them in mid-March.

SARDIS CITY — It’s customary for Sardis head football coach Gene Hill to target a yearly project for his program, such as the legacy lockers installed in the varsity field house since he became head coach in 2011.

In 2020, the project was “new weight equipment across the board” as Hill described it for the weight room beside the field house. He joked some of the old equipment had been around since his playing days at Sardis in the early 1980s.

“You can’t do everything in one year, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and this was the year,” Hill said.

“I talked to most of the coaches and our administration and said, ‘Look, if we’re going to do this, this is the year to get it done financial-wise with everybody’s situation.’ We got together with their help, came up with the financing and pulled this off. It’s something good for all our programs, not just football.

“All the male athletes are working out in there now. When we start this fall, we’ll have females and males in athletic PE. It will be something everybody will get a lot of use out of.”

The new equipment includes double racks, weights and rubber bumper plates. Hill said the bumper plates are back ordered and haven’t arrived.

“The biggest thing about these double racks is having the space to put them,” Hill said. “We figured out we did have the space, so we went ahead and bought those double racks. You can work out on either side.

“You can convert it from a bench to a squat and do your entire exercise at one station.”

Hill scheduled the new equipment to arrive during spring break week in March, when he expected to have some of his players available to help unload it. The coronavirus pandemic changed those plans.

“The guy calls me, I think it was three days after we shut school down, and said your weight equipment is on its way,” Hill said. “Of course, we couldn’t have kids up here, so several of the coaches chipped in and unloaded all the equipment.

“We let it sit there for a month or so until we saw we were going to be able to reopen. Then, we’ve got to move the old equipment out and the new equipment in. There for about two weeks, we had a lot of coaches who chipped in, had a lot of sore backs, but we got it set up.

“We’re not completely finished, but we had to do what we had to do to get the kids working out in there. So far, the kids are enjoying it. I think they’ve been really pleased with it.

“It’s a good, safe weight room. We can work out 90, 95 kids at one time safely.”

Hill and his staff took some of the old equipment and created a secondary weight room in Sardis Gymnasium.

“We’ll have a small weight room there that smaller groups can work out in,” he said. “We’re not excluding them from this one [with the new equipment], but it will make it convenient to have another place for a small group to work out.”

New restrooms for Sardis Stadium

The Etowah County Board of Education has approved the construction of new restrooms on the north, or scoreboard, end of Sardis Stadium. Hill expects construction to start anytime.

“Also, the plan got passed to have a new concession stand there,” Hill said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be in this first phase or in another phase. I know new restrooms are in the works, and it’s something we’ve been needing here for a long time. Anything will be a whole lot more than what we have now.”

The goal is to have them built by the beginning of the 2020 season.

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