OVCS unveils new gymnasium

Bryan Walters

August 24, 2013

GALLIPOLIS, Ohio —To quote the New International Version of Psalms 128:2 in the Bible, “You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.”

For three years, Ohio Valley Christian School has put in plenty of planning, effort and painstaking work to get a gymnasium attached to its new school site at the First Baptist Church in the Old French City.

Over the course of the last few weeks, OVCS has officially begun enjoying its bountiful harvest.

The Defenders and Lady Defenders will officially christen their 16,500 square-foot facility this 2013-14 school year in varsity sports such as volleyball, boys basketball and girls basketball, but the building itself will provide something much more needed to the new educational facility — a place to grow, as needed.

“People will be using this building long after most of us who were involved in this construction project are gone. It’s something that the future generations will get to enjoy, and it was designed to be expanded on if it is needed later by the ministry,” OVCS Chief Administrator Patrick O’Donnell said. “I feel like we were fiscally responsible in such a tight economy with our private resources, and we wanted to honor the fans and honor the teams with a nice facility while also honoring Christ with excellence.

“Like most others involved with this project, I feel really privileged to have been a part of this. It’s really something to see it in a completed state.”

The building itself cost $1.6 million to complete, and that money came from private collections — not state or federal funds, as is the case with most public schools that get new gymnasiums. Besides a new hardwood floor, the new facility also contains additional room for classes, a youth room, a kitchen, locker rooms with showers, restrooms and additional space for school storage.

The locker rooms were designed to be sound-proof due to the close proximity of their locations, while the new gymnasium will feature fold-in bleachers on one side and a green-inspired, ultra-quiet ventilation system above.

The floor itself was also designed to allow heat and humidity out from underneath the surface to ensure an even temperature on both sides of the wood to prevent warping.

The new facility also houses six basketball rims, compared to four in the old gym, which will allow multiple practices to run full court at the same time — a luxury also not afforded at the previous facility. The new court is also set up for Awana youth services on Wednesday nights.

But besides the athletic purposes that the new building serves, the addition also makes way for new opportunities that were not a luxury since the school moved from its Third and Locust streets location to its current facility at First Baptist Church on Fourth Avenue.

Little things, such as recess, will no longer be held in the parking lot or on gravel drive paths or even in the grass during less than ideal conditions.

“We’re offering physical education to all of our elementary, junior high and high school classes, and recess will take place in here when the weather is rainy or cold. It’s something that we’ve never had the opportunity to do here before,” O’Donnell said. “When the younger kids get in here, it’s simply fun to watch them because they know what this building is for. The four year-olds, the kindergartners and the first graders get in here and just run because they are so full of joy. It’s really nice to be able to offer that now.”

Even the one varsity program — soccer — that technically would not benefit from an indoor gymnasium is still reaping some rewards from the new facility.

The complex comes with outdoor access to the new locker rooms, which are located less than 100 feet from the southwest goal. There are also men’s and women’s restroom facilities located on the outside of the new building.

For OVCS athletic director and current soccer coach Jeff Patrick, he’s sees the addition as a win-win for all of the Defenders’ future endeavors.

“I think it’s an absolute benefit to every sport here, and not just at the varsity level. Before, we were doing recess in the parking lot or whatever — and we were kind of limited to what we could do,” Patrick said. “Now, with this facility, it’s really going to help build our programs from the bottom all the way up.

“As a soccer coach, to have direct access to locker rooms next to the field and for fans to have access to restrooms here on the campus — it’s going to make a big difference in a positive way. It’s going to benefit the kids, our school and opponents as well.”

The new building has more than adequate parking in comparison to the old facility, and the location of the facility also serves a nice bridge between the campus and the soccer facility. There is also roughly 3,500 square feet left between the parking lot and the soccer facility, in case the school continues to grow and wants to make another addition.

Entry into the new gymnasium will also be more convenient, as fans will enter through a set of double doors on the west side of the campus to purchase tickets just outside the gymnasium area. The entry area is located between the new building and the original First Baptist Church facility.

As OVCS begins a new chapter in its illustrious history, enrollment has jumped up for the start of the 2013-14 school year. O’Donnell noted that the ministry is currently receiving students from the tri-county area and also out of Jackson County, W.Va. — and more outside areas may soon be joining that list.

And since Ohio Valley Christian School is expanding into new areas, O’Donnell was adamant that locals be involved in the completion of this new building when the discussions came up three years ago.

“We have been so fortunate to be blessed with this facility, and I am truly grateful to the people at the school, the First Baptist Church and everyone in the surrounding communities that helped make this building a reality,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve had a lot of local businesses in here working on different aspects of the building, and we are grateful to have had so many local contractors in here on this job. Everybody has just done a really nice job in making this place what it is.”

OVCS will have a gymnasium dedication at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, September 22, which the public is invited to attend. The first varsity sporting contest to be played at the new facility is scheduled for Monday, August 26, when the volleyball team hosts Parkersburg Christian at 5 p.m.