Columbus North gym floor torn up in school renovation project

Workers descended upon Columbus North High School’s Memorial Gymnasium on Monday morning, ripping up the hardwood board by board until only a pile of kindling remained.

One explanation seemed logical.

The Bull Dogs girls basketball team had won the school’s first state championship Saturday night in either boys or girls basketball, so what was left to accomplish?

Might as well disband the program and build indoor horseshoe pits.

North Athletics Director Jeff Hester assured me the work on Monday was part of a larger $2 million construction project that also includes, among other things, pool renovations. The plan has been in the works to install a new gym floor for quite some time.

The reason for the new gym floor was simple. The one they ripped out was really old.

“We couldn’t sand it and refinish it anymore,” Hester said. “It had well-exceeded its life. The nail heads were starting to show and there definitely were a lot of dead spots. It had run its course.”

While the Columbus High School complex at 25th Street opened in 1956, Memorial Gym actually was ready for use in 1954, according to Hester. The boards sitting in a pile of rubble Monday were the original ones in the floor’s construction.

Hester said a new floor, purchased from the Cincinnati Floor Company, will be installed “before graduation” over the top of the old sub-flooring. The new floor will be maple and the design will be very similar to the old floor.

New lower level bleachers are being constructed as well, and those will be more accessible to those with special needs.

Meanwhile, Hester has contacted a company that handles the sale of sports memorabilia pieces, such as chunks of a gymnasium or arena floor, and is close to striking a deal. “We are thinking about selling 3-by-5 pieces,” Hester said. “I’ve been in the gym today collecting good pieces of wood, stick by stick.”

Two sections of court that were adorned by Bull Dog heads were saved, and their future use is not yet known.

The school will need to function for about three months with just its auxiliary gymnasium to host gym classes and spring sports teams that could be forced inside due to weather issues.

“It affects quite a bit,” Hester said. “It will be a challenge for us.”

Hester said school alumni have been contacting him about how they can get a piece of the floor. That information will be made public soon. Hester expects sales to begin before summer.

Meanwhile, the North girls basketball players will get a little extra incentive to go back into a new season because Hester said the new floor will be kinder to their legs.

The Bull Dogs might need extra incentive.

Imagine spending all your waking hours for years chasing a goal, such as finding Bigfoot.

Finally one day, you find him leaning up against a tree. You and Bigfoot have a chat, pose for some selfies, and go your separate ways.

Now what?

After reaching the goal of a lifetime in winning the state championship, the Bull Dogs have to ask themselves that question. Now what?

Eventually we will find out, on a nice, new floor.

Jay Heater is the Republic sports editor. He can be reached at jheater@therepublic.com or 379-5632.