By Devin Golden
Dalton State College’s athletic department is beginning a new era with new venues for practices and games.
But at least one old facility won’t be left behind.
School officials announced Monday that Bandy Gymnasium will be renovated and used for basketball and volleyball practices as well as home volleyball matches when those teams begin workouts and competition next year.
The Dalton Junior College Roadrunners played home games at the on-campus venue from 1969 to 1978, the only other era of men’s basketball for the college. After Derek Waugh’s hire in February as athletic director and Tony Ingle’s hire in August as men’s basketball coach, major pieces were in place to relaunch the program as a focal point to the reborn athletics department.
But the gym will look different.
Last week, the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents approved the project, which will be funded by the Dalton State Found-ation’s John Willis Mashburn Char-itable Trust. The renovation’s cost is $425,000, Waugh said, and will include new wood flooring and re-placement of the bleachers, ceiling and lighting. The venue’s entrance also will be enhanced.
“We don’t have the money to make it absolutely spectacular, but a new awning, new walkway and new sign,” Waugh said, noting the gym can fit anywhere from 300 to 400 people, which he considers “perfect” for volleyball matches.
“To me, Bandy Gym can be a centerpiece of the campus, so it was important to me to put new lights and new floor in it. It should be an area where students and prospective students flock to.”
The renovation will be designed by local architect Gregg Sims. Although the school has not gone through the bid process to award a construction contract, Waugh said he’d like to have it begin in the spring and be finished in the summer.
“Volleyball will need to start using it in August,” Waugh said.
The volleyball team will use the venue for home matches starting with the 2013-2014 school year, when Dalton State plans to begin competition in a handful of sports, including men’s basketball. That team will play its home contests in the trade center. Waugh said Bandy Gymnasium also could be used for intramural activities and physical education classes.
Dalton State also plans to begin competitive cheerleading, cross country, golf and tennis next school year. Aside from the trade center, Bandy joins The Farm Golf Club, Lakeshore Tennis Complex and the Creative Arts Guild gymnastics studio as the five current practice and competition venues for athletics.
The school is still searching for coaches for volleyball, cross country and golf.
The Roadrunners will compete in the NAIA, but will not have a conference affiliation for the 2013-2014 season, as previously hoped for. However, Waugh hopes to join the Southern States Athletic Conference once the school has enough sports to qualify for membership.
Waugh is optimistic the men’s basketball team will be able to schedule contests against many of that conference’s members, which include schools from Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina.
“We are waiting for the Southern States Athletic Conference to do their scheduling in the first week of December,” Waugh said. “When they do that, we’re going to try and schedule everyone in that league.”
The conference’s members are Georgia’s Brenau University, Brewton-Parker College, College of Coastal Georgia, Emmanuel College, Southern Polytechnic State University and Truett-McConnell College; Tennessee’s Lee University; Alabama’s Auburn-Montgomery, Faulkner University, Spring Hill College and University of Mobile; Mississippi’s Belhaven University and William Carey University; Louisiana’s Loyola University; and South Carolina’s Southern Wesleyan University.