Renovated Weight Room, Indoor Field Uplifts Warren High Players

WARREN, Ohio — Steven Arnold suddenly realized that something was amiss as he climbed on the elliptical exercise machine in the Warren G. Harding High School football varsity house.

Dismay overtook the school’s head football coach as his line of sight was clouded by dilapidated equipment. It spurred Arnold to alter his view for not only himself, but the Warren City Schools community.

“I said to myself, ‘we need change,’ ” Arnold says. That was in 2019.

His vision is much clearer these days as the 3,700 square-foot weight room has been restored.

The walls have been repainted white and adorned with photos of fans, and a soft-surface black flooring has been installed. Rows of new dumbbells and an assortment of free-weight equipment in the school’s gold and black color scheme stand at the ready.

The words “Warren Football” in black lettering dominate the newly-painted wall in the back room that now houses a 17-by-28-yard indoor turf-field practice facility.

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Gallery includes pictures of Warren G. Harding defensive end Kincaid Tyson lifting weights in the new weight room, Head Coach Steven Arnold, a wide-angled photo of the weight room and outside view of the Varsity House.

Junior Davell Trimble was one of a handful of soon-to-be senior football players to view the improvements when the facility reopened April 1.

“When we walked in, it was everything we pictured,” Trimble says.

With coach Arnold spearheading the project, action was swift.

The coach first contacted the school’s business manager and treasurer of the football team’s booster organization and rallied his own staff to purge the old weight room of outdated equipment.

Superintendent Steve Chiaro would soon enter the conversation, asking how he could help; Arnold now had the financial support to accomplish his vision.

Principal Dante Capers, Associate Superintendent Wendy Hartzell and high school girls basketball coach Frank Caputo, along with Arnold, started gathering price quotes on weights and other items for the workout facility.

Painting, electrical and other work was done by school district personnel. The $100,000 project was paid for with money from the school’s grant from the state Student Wellness and Success Fund.

Chiaro says the school system received approximately $1.2 million for the 2019-20 school year, and $1.6 million for 2020-21. Ohio earmarked $675 million in July 2019 to aid school districts in student wellness initiatives.

“We did this as smart and as cost-efficient as we could so we could maximize the amount of equipment we could get in and get the biggest bang for our buck that was possible,” Chiaro says.

The indoor turf field allows the team to practice year-round, regardless of the weather. Junior Curtiss Dorsey says that gives him more time to hone his football skills.

The indoor practice field has a countdown clock, ticking toward the first game of the 2021 season against Medina High School. The metallic plates below the LED numbers signify the teams on the Raiders’ schedule.

“It really motivates us to see the days wind down and see how much time we’ve got left to our first game,” Dorsey says.

This renovated facility is not only for the football program, Chiaro says. It will be used by other WGH athletic programs and also in daily curriculum with strength and conditioning and physical education classes.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused some district students to lose weight due to food insecurity, while others gained weight because of limited access to nutritional foods, he says.

“The timing couldn’t be better for something like this to roll out and for all of our kids to have access to it as long as they’re involved in some sort of program, either extracurricular, co-curricular or academic,” Chiaro says.

Junior Mar’Rall Brown credited the principals, administrators and others in the Warren City Schools community for giving the football player a renewed sense of pride as they prepare for the upcoming season.

“They did a lot for us and we got to work hard for them now,” he says.

The renovation of the weight room and new indoor turf facility is not the end of it, coach Arnold says. There is a “huge” athletic project in the works, but the school’s football coach is remaining mum about it for now.

“Guaranteed it’s going to take your breath away,” he says.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.