Demolition inside the Sequoia High School’s main gymnasium is in full swing after a burst pipe caused irreparable damage just weeks before the start of the fall sports season.
The flooding to Gym 1 was “quite extensive,” according to Sequoia Athletic Director Melissa Schmidt, who said the gym floor, as well as many team rooms and offices, were completely underwater.
“The floor is ruined, and there is damage to walls,” she said.
Now, two weeks since the leak was discovered, the gym walls have been repaired, and construction workers are in the process of tearing out the damaged floor and subfloor, according to Schmidt.
But with the fall term just around the corner, Schmidt and other school administrators will have to work around the loss of a central campus facility.
Though Sequoia has three functioning gymnasiums, Schmidt called Gym 1 “our primary gym.” In addition to sporting events, “it’s also used for rallies, dances, testing, a lot of community events.”
The rupture was discovered in mid-July by a visitor using the campus track who saw water leaking out of the gym’s exterior doors and alerted maintenance to the issue.
Schmidt was out of the country when she got the email, but even without seeing the damage she was concerned.
“I know what water can do,” she said. “From the description of what they found when they got there I knew it was going to be pretty bad.”
Schmidt, who hasn’t yet done a full assessment of the damage, said she’s concerned that some equipment may also have been affected.
“What I’m worried about is scoreboard controllers and microphones—that kind of thing,” she said.
The timeframe and estimated costs of full repairs have yet to be determined, according to Schmidt. Administrators have not responded to requests for comment.
“District personnel is working to make the necessary repairs in order to have the facility available to our school site as soon as possible,” said Richard Gebin, Sequoia Union High School District spokesperson.
The burst pipe caused some disruption to scheduled summer programs that were underway on campus. Basketball and volleyball teams, as well as physical education classes, were running summer sessions when the leak was discovered and had to relocate to the school’s other two gymnasiums.
“We’re lucky that we have three gyms and that there wasn’t so much going on at one time,” said Schmidt.
However, with the fall sports season kicking off on Friday Aug. 5, the athletic department is working hard to adapt. Without access to its primary facility, coaches will have to adjust schedules and locations for sporting events through the fall and possibly into the winter.
“Volleyball is the sport [that] will be most impacted as of now,” said Schmidt. The school’s cheer team also uses the main gym. “We’re going to have to get creative on scheduling practices without the large gym being operational.”
For now, volleyball games will be held in another of the school’s three facilities—Gym 2—where they were before the construction of the new gym. Though there’s enough space to play, most of the bleachers were removed so seating is limited.
If construction lasts into November, however, logistics may become even more complicated.
“In the winter, we have five basketball teams, as well as cheer and wrestling, who all need gym space,” Schmidt said. “It’s going to be much harder then.”
Schmidt and the coaches are exploring different options for winter sports accommodations, including early morning practice or using off-campus facilities.
“Practice times may be less than ideal in the winter season,” she said. I definitely think there’s some disappointment on the part of the kids about playing games in Gym 2 because it’s not the same.”
As sports practices move into the auxiliary gymnasiums, the administrators will have to coordinate around other scheduled activities, such as back-to-school photo shoots.
Still, Schmidt said, they’re making the best of a difficult situation.
“The gym is awesome. My biggest goal is to put it back,” she said, adding that the floors were recently sanded and refinished, with the school’s new raven mascot painted in the middle.
“Everyone at the site and at the district completely understands that this is an important part of our school functioning, and everyone wants to see this go as quickly as possible,” she said.
The most recent of Sequoia’s three gymnasiums, Gym 1 was originally constructed in 2010.