Floored by the rain


Harrison Kuhn

Water damage to the OHS gymnasium

Chants from the student section, blowing of whistles and roars from the crowd are all common sounds that will not be heard this fall from the gymnasium at Owatonna High School. Instead, there will be the sounds of jack hammers, machinery and demo crews. As the OHS staff prepared for a new school year, the town was hit with a powerful rainstorm showering the school with over five inches of rain in the span of two days. Due to a roof project that was underway, a significant amount of water leaked through the roof and seeped under the hardwood floor, causing it to bubble up to an irreparable state. Activities Director Ryan Swanson said, “The bubble was a 15×30 foot space as big as my office.” Understanding the importance of the gymnasium to OHS sports programs and gym classes, the administration has decided that the only option is to replace the hardwood floor.

The floor has impacted many aspects of the school, the most significant being the volleyball program. With the floor being in an unplayable condition, the volleyball teams were forced to move to other locations. The teams now practice at the Owatonna Junior High School everyday unless the Kids First program is holding a home game.The varsity program is not the only team affected. The Kids First program has had to make many sacrifices such as giving up the whole gym, having shorter practice times and going later into the night. This trickles down to the younger programs as well and does not allow them to practice until later at night. Senior Captain Riley Birk said, ”Thankfully, the Junior High has worked out fairly well, it has not affected how our practices go. Seeing that the volleyball team will not have any home games this year, not playing with a student section and a home court has lead to a “lack of focus and frustration,” said Birk. “Having a student section encourages us and boosts our confidence, it puts a smile on our faces to see our classmates supporting us.” While getting off to a slow start, these events might just be the reasoning behind some of the struggles the team has faced early in the year. Medford High School has kindly offered to host four ‘home games’ for the Huskies this season.

We’ll have to be a little more creative by using the wrestling room, weight room, the hallways and those types of things”

— Mr. Eggermont

The floor is also used for many gym classes at OHS. The gym is used for many activities such as fitness testing, games and other physical education curriculum necessities. Early in the year, the classes are able to go outside and do a majority of their activities on the practice fields. The only thing that has changed so far is the pacer run.  The classes instead have to do the mile run, outside on the track. “All in all, it hasn’t affected us – hardly at all – if any,” said physical education teacher Jerry Eggermont. All the curriculum has stayed the same for the class. Minnesota is known for its vast weather changes. The cold months are approaching and not being able to be in an indoor gym, the class will have to change a little bit. Mr. Eggermont said,  “We’ll have to be a little more creative by using the wrestling room, weight room, the hallways and those types of things”.

The floor flooding was at a very inconvenient time, and this has affected many people, students and staff. However, the timing could be much worse. If this would have happened in December, there would have been an impact on two basketball programs. Not having the gym is tough on the OHS gym classes, however, in the winter it would have been even worse. Without any room to accommodate, any inside classes would have nowhere to go. The staff and administration are very grateful for all of the sacrifices that people have made to make sure this is not a horrific event, but just a mild bump in the road.  Many people have been very generous sharing their gyms and time. Although there is not a deadline set on the project, the administration would like to be done by mid-November. Swanson has assured that the demo crews and construction companies are working hard to get the floor done as soon as possible. An upside to this unfortunate event is that OHS will be getting a brand new floor, which will be beneficial for the school in the years to come.