JFK High School Remodels Gillen Gymnasium

WARREN, Ohio — Gone is the rug that had been covering a mound of warped wood on the floor of Gillen Gymnasium at John F. Kennedy High School.

In its place is a newly-installed maple wood surface.

After replacing the gym roof in 2018, the Catholic school has recently done the same with the floor. The old surface, installed in 1967 and repaired many times, was beyond saving.

The $278,000 replacement project was completed by Final Floor of the Columbus area, says JFK President Joseph Kenneally. The price was locked in last year, before lumber prices skyrocketed, he notes.

In this comparison image, the new floor is at the top with the old floor below.

Insurance covered $167,000 of the project, says Mark Komlanc, JFK varsity boys basketball coach and the school’s dean of students. “I was just happy to get a new floor,” he says.

Water seepage had to be addressed as part of the work. All windows on the gym’s west side were boarded up and new doors were installed, Kenneally says. The outside was graded to adjust for rain runoff. The exterior was finished with vinyl siding and decorative wood was used on the interior.

“Water was getting into the cinder block,” Kenneally says.

In addition to this gymnasium project, windows were replaced around the school, costing $250,000, Keneally says. Another $200,000 was spent on LED lights around JFK.

“That’s a sign that we are growing,” he says.

The boys and girls basketball teams were allowed to practice in the gym before the 2020-21 season, but both teams had to play their home games at off-campus sites. The basketball teams will have access to the floor starting the second week of June, but the facility will be closed for a week in July to add the bleachers.

“They’re going to be in a top-notch facility,” Kenneally says.

The $89,000 bleachers will change the look of Gillen Gymnasium. Wooden bleachers used to fill the east side of the gym. The bottom two to three rows were usually reserved for the visiting and home teams, which made for crowded conditions for those players and coaches. Fans walked in front of them during the game and talked to the players from their seats.

“Coaches try their best to be polite, but in the heat of it you know how that goes,” Kenneally says.

The home and visiting teams will now be placed on the west side of the gym with a gap between the bleachers and those teams, providing much-needed separation for the basketball clubs and the spectators behind them. Seating on the east side will be for fans only.

The JFK boys basketball season ended on March 12 and work on the floor began the following day. Asbestos had to be abated, adding a week to the project, Kenneally says.

Painting of the gym came next at a cost of $20,000, he says. Eventually, the floor was installed, sanded and stained. A plywood support is underneath the floor.

Those aren’t all the facets happening around the revamped gymnasium.

A new pulley system has been installed to move the baskets up and down. The electrical system has been synchronized with the two scoreboards, and each of the two clear backboards have been equipped with lighting that flashes at the end of each quarter.

“That’s going to be really cool for them because [the players] don’t know,” Kenneally says.

A blue K has been painted on the middle of the floor, replacing the eagle [school mascot] and embossed K. The scoreboard, installed a couple of years ago, will be rewrapped and reflect the blue K as well. The technology has been put in place in case the Ohio High School Athletic Association adopts using a shot clock, which other states currently use.

The remainder of the monies to pay for the gym project, beyond the insurance payment, came from alumni and other friends of the school, Kenneally says. The Wolves of Warren, the school’s business student organization, gave presentations to businesses that committed funding to the gymnasium. About 30 sponsor banners at $1,000 each have been sold.

JFK alumni are invited to an August reveal of the new Gillen Gymnasium after a new coat of paint and the bleachers are installed. The gymnasium is named after longtime athletic director John Gillen, who died in 2017. His wife, Gloria, is an avid supporter of the Eagles sports and attends JFK events.

“It would only be right that she’s the first person to cut the ribbon on the revamped Gillen Gymnasium,” Kenneally says.

Pictured at top: John F. Kennedy Catholic School president Joseph Kenneally stands in front of the new floor installed inside Gillen Gymnasium.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.