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Neal athletes getting new weightroom

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
The work will remain the same, but the conditions where W.S. Neal High School athletes do their weightlifting exercises will soon be a lot better.
W.S. Neal will soon begin the process of transferring its current weightroom equipment into a renovated 4,000 square feet room at the school. The new site is actually the former W.S. Neal Middle School cafeteria.
"The room wasn't being used. I brought up the idea of using the old cafeteria to (W.S. Neal principal) Phil Ellis and then Escambia County Schools superintendent Melvin Powell gave us the green light to make the switch. We're really looking forward to making the move," W.S. Neal athletic director and football coach Shane Smothers said.
The move is expected to take place probably by the end of this week.
"We ordered a rubber floor last week and it's due to come in this week. As soon as it's in place, we'll begin moving the equipment," Smothers said. "The floor is just part of the renovation. We're going to schedule a parent work day. A big thing we want to do in the room is give it a good paint job with a lot of blue and yellow (the school's colors.) We want to turn this room into one of the better weightroom facilities in the state."
W.S. Neal's current facility is two former classrooms divided by a partial wall in the middle.
"It is tough for supervision with the wall in the middle because you're constantly bouncing back and forth from section to section and you can't see everybody," Smothers said. "With our new location, we'll be able to keep everybody together in the same room."
Smothers said another big plus with the new site is ventilation.
"Our current room has no air conditioning and it really gets hot in there. The new room has air conditioning so it will be a lot cooler for the athletes when they do their workouts, especially in the summer months," Smothers said. "The air conditioning is another reason why we'll now be using this room on Friday nights during the season."
Smothers said the new room will also help make things more time efficient for his football program.
"Right now our current site really isn't big enough for everybody to be in there together. That really isn't that big a deal during the summer because we have morning and afternoon lifting programs, but during those times we'll have about half our kids inside lifting and the other half outside doing other activities. During the season we'll be able to get everybody in there together at the same time and that will be a big plus," Smothers said.
Smothers emphasized the new weightoom is not just for boys and the football program.
"Right now our boys are using these two former classrooms and our girls are using the stage in the old gym. We want all our athletes to have access to our new weightroom. Their respective teams just have to schedule times that don't conflict with one another," Smothers said.