When Jay M. Robinson High School was being built for the 2001 school year, there were plans for a large field house, a facility that football coach Bobby Cloninger called a "Taj Mahal."
Almost nine years later, the only sign of a field house on the school's athletic field is a red banner hanging on a chain-link fence near the end zone: "Future home of Jay M. Robinson Athletic Field House."
All the sports teams currently share two locker rooms located at the main school building: a "varsity locker room" and a smaller locker room meant for physical education classes.
The varsity locker room, used by the football team, has only 50 lockers, which aren't big enough to fit a helmet and shoulder pads.
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"It's not big enough for a hundred football players," said athletic director Mark Driscoll. "It's not adequate for what we need."
The Jay M. Robinson Field House Campaign, a part of the Jay M. Robinson Athletic Booster Club, started in February 2009 to replace that banner with an actual facility that would house the football team, soccer teams and any other athletic teams that use the field.
The campaign plans to raise $300,000 dollars to finance the construction through corporate contributions, individual donations and fundraisers.
So far the campaign has raised $60,000 in cash, with another $100,000 raised in "in-kind" giving, which are goods or services that will benefit the campaign, said Andy Jones, the chairman of the field house campaign.
Robinson opened during a time of rapid population growth in Cabarrus County, leading to huge construction needs and a limited budget for schools, according to the Jay M. Robinson Field House Campaign Web site.
The two Cabarrus County schools built after Robinson, Hickory Ridge (2007) and Cox Mill (2009), also don't have field houses.
"There was a field house in the plans, but it was taken out of the plans because of budgetary reasons," said David Caldwell, president of the booster club.
The campaign was started by Cloninger, Jones, Caldwell and other parents of athletes at Robinson. Jones has two kids at the school, a senior, Andrew, who is on the swim team and ran cross country his freshman year, and Hamilton, a freshman who is a kicker for the football team and also wrestles.
Caldwell's oldest son, Trent, played football, basketball and baseball at Robinson and graduated in 2006. His youngest, Chris, is a senior who plays football, baseball and runs track.
"I think David is the perfect example of the commitment we have from parents who want this to, kind of, be a lasting legacy," said Jones, because his son will graduate before he can experience the benefits.
"It became more and more clear to us that the time had come that we needed to do this for the kids, from a facilities standpoint and from a health standpoint as well," said Caldwell.
Football, soccer, volleyball, cross country and tennis are forced to share two locker rooms during the fall sports season. Winter sports start having workouts and tryouts during the fall season, adding even more athletes trying to use the facilities.
"You got three or four hundred kids trying to dress in two locker rooms there and it's an absolute zoo," said Cloninger.
Many athletes can't even use the locker room before practice. Driscoll said he has seen students changing in the school bathrooms and walking down to the field.
"I don't know where the soccer kids get dressed," said Driscoll. "There's no room for them."
"Some of (the athletes) dress out in the back of the car," said Cloninger. "We did that at Monroe 25 years ago, and we though we were, you know, about as backward as you can get."
To Cloninger, the health risk is even more important than space.
"It's not healthy," said Cloninger about so many athletes sharing a small space. "Two years ago, I about died from staph infection."
Staph infections and diseases like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are spread through open wounds and are very contagious. With hundreds of athletes crowding into small facilities, there is a higher risk of the disease spreading, said Caldwell.
"There's always a risk, but because of our situation it compounds everything," said Jones.
Jones and Caldwell stress that the new facility is not just for football, even though they will use it the most.
"All teams that use the stadium area will be able to utilize the facility," said Jones. "I will say football as a sport and as an entity has been the main catalyst...but all the other teams will benefit from that as well."
Moving the football team to the new facility will free up space for the other athletic teams.
"Everybody wins in this," said Driscoll. The main building locker room would then be free for all the other sports that had been put out in the past, he said.
The plans for the field house include two locker rooms (home and away), bathroom facilities, showers, laundry facilities, two coaches offices, a lounge/seating area and a team gathering area.
"I think the floor plans we came up with are usable and functional," said Cloninger. "(The) maintenance aspect is going to be low. It's going to be able to withstand and take care of 100 or 110 kids."
Driscoll thinks the field house will be a source of pride for the school and athletes and will improve the way the students and the community looks at the school.
Visiting teams will also benefit.
If it starts raining during games now, the visiting teams are forced to run back to the bus or under the bleacers. A new facility would give the teams a space to go during bad weather, said Jones.
"Just to be a good host, we believe, is very important," he said.
Even though the project is privately funded, it is a county facility and must be approved by the county and school board. The county will then accept bids for the contract to construct the field house.
Jones said that the campaign is striving to turn in the money and proper paperwork into the county by the spring so that construction can start and the field house can be utilized in the fall.
Caldwell is proud of what he and other parents have been able to accomplish in such a short time.
"What we've done, I think, is next to miraculous in 11 months given the economy," he said. "We've looked down every avenue we can to raise money and the response has been phenomenal."
"It's a really wonderful thing that's going on here, and we really owe a token of thanks to the people that have helped us so far," said Caldwell.