Now that the traffic signal flickering above Lycoming County is operating under Governor Wolf’s green light much of the population will be out & about much more enjoying both the ‘new normal’ and the most welcomed warmer weather. Should you decide to hop in the car and take a drive; here’s is a destination you might take under consideration. Drive down to Muncy and go either east or west on Schuyler Avenue past the Muncy High School. If you haven’t been there in awhile, you’re in for a surprise.
The landscape encountered has been significantly altered by the nearly completed construction of a new gymnasium building that is connected to the high school by an elevated enclosed walkway. Although slowed by the corona virus restrictions school officials are ‘hopeful’ that all will be in readiness when the students return to classes this fall.
A project long in the talking stages, Muncy is the last public school in Lycoming County operating with only one gymnasium facility. In recent years, Montgomery and Loyalsock christened new gyms as did nearby Millville and Lewisburg.
In 1982 the Muncy school board was considering building a new gymnasium, but that plan was shot down by objections from a tax coalition group. Since then the district has been running all its athletic programs using the current gym that was built in 1959. An earlier gym used from 1931-1958 was then converted to what is now the cafeteria in the high school building. The project received new life in 2015 when Dr. Craig Skaluba came on board as the new superintendent. He initiated a survey of staff and students to identify the biggest needs and a second gymnasium facility was high on that list.
The old gym could accommodate 475 fans. The new gym is bigger, brighter and will seat 900. The total cost of the project was 15-million which also included upgrading some facilities in the high school building, including the auditorium. In doing their homework Muncy talked with Montgomery, Millville, Southern Columbia and other schools that had recently built new facilities.
“We asked what they like, what they might do if they had things to do over again and took all the collected information under advisement. We wanted to make this something that our kids and our community could be proud of,” explained Muncy athletic director Curt Chilson.
“I think these upgraded facilities will finally give us some equal footing with the other schools we compete against. Being able to allow for more practice time for our teams will help facilitate the kids skills. It will also help getting kids home at a reasonable hour in the evening. Particularly with our elementary wrestling program, we had so many kids participating they were split into three groups, and some of those kids weren’t leaving practice until 9:00 p.m. That’s way too late – those kids should be in bed by that time. It should help academically as well as athletically.”
A tour of the new facility provides many reasons why there should be plenty of pride under the Indians teepee.
The first floor lobby is spacious complete with a concession stand and public restrooms. The 84-foot basketball court sports a clan look uncluttered by a multitude of lines often seen in gymnasiums. Beneath the gym are locker rooms for teams and game officials and coach’s offices. The second floor boasts a huge wrestling room that can be divided to enable different teams to practice at the same time. Another wing houses meeting rooms complete with the latest communications provisions.
A sparkling new weight room in another jewel in Indians land. Thanks to gifts from the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania ($58,500.17) and Muncy Bank & Trust Company ($40,000.00) Muncy’s athletes will now have available brand new equipment and state-of-the-art facilities. Those weight room facilities will also be made available to Muncy residents Monday – Thursday from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. at a $25.00 cost for a year-long membership.
Chilson beams with pride and optimism when contemplating the new facility’s benefits for the Muncy athletic program.
“This will be huge for us. It will enable our coaches to have more flexibility and for the kids to improve drastically. It has been difficult putting together the game schedules and the practice times for all the teams with only one gym. It’s like putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle just trying to have some practice time each day. It’s especially tough on nights of home wrestling matches when the weigh-ins begin at 5:00 p.m. That means girls basketball, varsity boys and junior high basketball have to all squeeze in practices between 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. The teams may be getting only 45 minutes to practice. It should be a big difference maker for us moving forward.”
The school district will be conducting a Grand opening at a yet to be determined date.
“We are hoping that can be done by our Blue/White event, which is a few weeks before our first football game,” Chilson added. “When it is ready, we’ll have a big day to invite the public in and unveil the project.”