After going through a six-month closure because of a flood-damaged floor, Tombstone High School’s gymnasium reopened Monday.

“We really needed to have our gym back before basketball season started, so this is great,” smiled Ernest Withers, a junior who plays varsity basketball for the Yellow Jackets. We’ve been holding our practices at Leman Academy in Sierra Vista through the summer because we didn’t have our own gym.”

The school’s varsity basketball coach, Steve Lane, said the closure limited pre-season practices to one day a week.

“We made the best of an unfortunate situation,” noted Lane. “We want to thank Leman for the use of their gym during the summer months. It’s a fantastic facility and we appreciated having a place for our practices when our gym was unavailable.”

In order to help the varsity team make up for lost practice time, Lane has decided to continue using Leman’s gym on Saturdays. Tombstone’s junior varsity and varsity basketball teams will be practicing in their own gym on weekdays, while varsity players will meet at Leman’s for Saturday practices.

“The school district doesn’t run a bus on Saturdays and the majority of our players live in Sierra Vista,” Lane said. “It’s more convenient for parents to drop their kids off at Leman.”

From the tough-looking Yellow Jacket logo at mid-court to the lighter-colored wood, the new floor is getting rave reviews from players and coaches.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to have our gym back,” said Anthony Coste, a junior. “The floor looks fantastic, especially the big Yellow Jacket logo. I think it looks great.”

Junior varsity coach Dan Romero also serves as an assistant varsity coach to Lane.

While watching a Tuesday practice, Romero commented on how the floor’s lighter color makes the gym look larger.

“The new floor looks great,” he said. “The lines came out real well for both volleyball and basketball and the mid-court logo is a nice addition. We’re all happy to have the gym back.”

“Our entire gym floor was stripped during the summer and we had to wait for the concrete to dry before Sun Country Floors could install the wood,” THS Principal David Thursby said. “As a result, our volleyball and basketball teams had to practice in other locations.”

While work on the gymnasium floor was underway, the high moisture levels in the concrete continued to delay the new floor’s installation, with estimates for completing the project ranging from October to December.

Without the use of the gym, when school started in August, PE classes were held outdoors, weather permitting. Girls volleyball practices and home games were shuffled to the Walter J. Meyer gym, and the boys practiced at Leman.

With basketball season starting in November, players and coaches are relieved to have the gym available.

“Not having a gym was an inconvenience, but the new floor looks fantastic,” Thursby said. “We were allowed to provide input when it came to the design, so we added the Yellow Jacket logo at center-court. Everyone thinks it makes a nice addition.”

Now that the team is practicing regularly, Anthony Coste, a junior, said he hopes the players stay dedicated and committed to the program.

“We need to stay focused and committed so we can continue to improve as a family,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the season and seeing how we pull together as a team. And I’m looking forward to playing home games on our new floor.”

During a Tuesday practice, Michael Zelazny, a senior who transferred from Berean Academy, said Tombstone’s gym looks huge compared to what he was accustomed to at Berean.

“This gym feels huge to me,” he said. “For us to have a home court like this is extraordinary.”

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