For most of Nichaun Wray’s four years as a Garinger athlete, the school’s weight room may as well have been known as the “wait room.”
A lack of training equipment often taught Garinger’s athletes about being patient as much as it helped them get physically stronger.
That changed Jan. 27 when Garinger received a donation of used – but high quality – weight training equipment that more than doubled the amount the school had.
Myers Park High’s recent fundraising efforts allowed it to purchase more equipment than the school needed, so the school shared its older equipment with nearby Garinger.
“It was a struggle to do a lot of the Olympic lifts because of the bars we didn’t have,” said Wray, a senior captain on the football, basketball, and track and field teams. “The rubber weights we got donated and a lot of the squatting and pull-up equipment (we received) can have more athletes do more instead of waiting a tedious amount of time.”
Among the items donated were: 10 Olympic weight racks with accompanying platforms, 30 bars, about 75 dumbbells ranging between 40-100 pounds, and steel and rubber weight plates that Garinger football coach Percell Gaskins estimated to weigh a total of about 50,000 pounds.
The donation emanated from an old friendship between the schools’ athletic directors.
Garinger’s Tony Huggins and Myers Park’s Rick Lewis have known each other since the early 1990s when both were basketball coaches at Garinger. Lewis coached boys’ basketball at Garinger from 1990-98 and the school still holds “a special place in my heart,” he said. Huggins coached the girls’ team for a year in the mid-1990s.
When Gaskins was hired last spring, one of his tasks was to expand the football program’s off-season conditioning program, which he says was practically “non-existent.” The school’s existing equipment included the same four bench stations it had in the early 90s – without platforms – and about 1,000 pounds of weight, according to Gaskins.
“We got creative,” said Gaskins, who was a linebacker for the Carolina Panthers in 1997. “We just had each kid grab a plate. They started with a 45-pound plate and started doing plate workouts. We sparingly did some Olympic lifts and other things but it was mostly plate work.”
In the fall, Garinger moved its weight equipment from a room adjacent to its gymnasium to a building near the campus’ football stadium that had been used to teach auto mechanics classes.
Huggins says Garinger has been interested in adding weight equipment since he was hired two years ago but its athletic department budget would only allow for the purchase of some pieces “here and there,” he said. The school purchased a few weight bars just before Huggins got a call from Lewis in October.
Myers Park’s athletic booster club, with the help of the school’s alumni association, had recently kicked off a fundraising campaign to renovate its weight room and purchase new equipment. Lewis said the new equipment replaced what had been purchased in 2000 but it was all still high quality and functional.
Myers Park raised $156,000, including a contribution from Hugh and Katy Shannon, whose son, David, a Myers Park graduate and football player, was a UNC Chapel Hill freshman when he died from a fall in October 2012. Myers Park dedicated the “David Palmer Shannon Weight Room” on Jan. 26, which would have been his 21st birthday.
Great time last night dedicating our new David Shannon Weight Room. THANKS so much to all those responsible. pic.twitter.com/iGNIKVgOwM— Myers Park Football (@myersparkfball) January 27, 2015
Lewis received permission from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ athletic department to transition the old equipment from his school to Garinger, whose students helped unload it when the delivery was made last month. All of Garinger’s athletic teams, as well as students in its weight lifting classes, have access to the weight room and its new gear.
“We want to send Myers Park our thanks,” said Jacob James, a senior football, basketball and baseball player. “We didn’t have that much. They didn’t have to give it to us. They just did it out of the kindness of their hearts. We’re thankful for that. We’re going to use it as much as we can to make our programs better and build what we need to build.”