Shelton High unveils new gym floor, 7 months after ‘unfortunate’ accident

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — The season may be over, but that didn’t stop the varsity volleyball team from christening the school’s new state-of-the-art gymnasium floor.

The Shelton High gym floor was damaged over April break during an indoor baseball practice, when a player taking batting practice hit a ball that went through a small gap in the batting cage net and struck a sprinkler head. The impact broke a valve, causing water to shower onto the floor for some time before it was shut off.

School maintenance workers were able to shut down the water, but the damage had already been done. It took time to dry out the area, but water seeped under the wood, causing buckling and making it dangerous for students to play athletics on it.

“The accident was unfortunate,” Superintendent Ken Saranich said, “but the floor was dated.”

Replacement work began just prior to this school year and was completed last week. The previous floor dated back to the 1970s.

“We’re so excited to finally have this in place,” Saranich said Monday after the girls’ volleyball team played a scrimmage on the new floor. “The team christened the court. They were the first to use the floor, and they left their mark.”

The scrimmage was part of a celebration of the completed work. Among those in attendance to see the finished product were members of the Board of Education and Board of Aldermen. Saranich said physical education classes, which had been held outdoors, would be moved inside starting Tuesday.

“Overall our staff, students, and athletic teams were very cooperative which allowed us to get this project done in a timely manner,” Shelton High Principal Kathy Riddle said. “The gym is absolutely beautiful and has state-of-the-art technology that helps deter injuries. Our floor is the same model as Gampel Pavilion at UConn and our kids certainly deserve the best.”

Riddle said the school was fortunate the weather this fall has been mild, allowing physical education teachers to keep their classes outdoors. The girls volleyball team held its practices and home matches at Shelton Intermediate School, which forced a change in practice times.

“I am excited to see our students and athletic teams enjoy this space,” Riddle added. “Our basketball teams and other athletic teams are really looking forward to starting their season and will certainly be proud to play in such a great space.”

Board Chair Kathy Yolish credited the working relationship between the board, school central office and Mayor Mark Lauretti for getting the work done in a timely manner. She specifically praised board members John Fitzgerald and James Orazietti for their efforts in working alongside school Facilities Director John Calhoun, school officials and Lauretti during the process.

“It is a beautiful combination of contrasting wood and will be durable and long lasting to meet the demands of the many sporting events that will utilize the facility,” Yolish said about the new floor.

Saranich said the final floor design was a collaboration with input from coaches and student athletes.

“The end result is a state-of-the-art floor that the builder called probably the best gym floor of any high school in the state,” Saranich said.

The city took over the floor’s repair and replacement, since the high school is a city building. The city will pay a $10,000 deductible, with the insurance carrier paying the remainder of the cost.

The Board of Education also approved an additional $6,000 for stain work and upgrading the logo — which is permanent so it would not need to be sanded and redone every few years, according to board Vice Chair James Orazietti.

“I am so excited that the gym is now ready for the upcoming basketball games,” Yolish said. “I know all of the students and parents will enjoy seeing the games played on this beautiful, new court.”

Saranich said the new floor comes with increased shock absorbency, which he says will offer a safer playing environment for student athletes.

“This is the same flooring system used in Gampel Pavilion and is considered the finest available,” Orazietti said. “The floor has a little bounce to it due to the subflooring construction comparable to our athletic field that was constructed with an underlayment/concussion pad that can help with severity of athletic injuries.”

“We are extremely proud to be able to add this to our outstanding athletics facilities,” Orazietti added.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com