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School tips off drive for new basketball floor

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Columbus Christian and Bloomington Lighthouse tip off to start their regional championship game Friday at Columbus Christian.
Columbus Christian and Bloomington Lighthouse tip off to start their regional championship game Friday at Columbus Christian. PHOTO BY TOMMY WALKER

As a 6-foot-5 sophomore, Chris Noblitt is a big guy who has been willing to pound away all season in helping Columbus Christian High School to an Indiana Christian State Tournament South Region title.

But there is one opponent he just can’t beat.

His school’s tile gymnasium floor.

Noblitt knows that playing at a small Christian school offers challenges, such as crashing to the floor during a basketball game.

At a glance

WHAT: Fundraising effort

FOR: New maple gymnasium floor at Columbus Christian School

CURRENTLY: Tile floor that covers concrete

COST: Approximately $70,000 installed

TO HELP: Anyone who would like to help can call Tammy Harvey at the Columbus Christian main office at


“A tile floor definitely hurts more,” he said.

A wooden gym floor gives a little. A tile floor does not.

“When these kids take a charging foul, they are taking it on concrete covered by a piece of tile,” said Columbus Christian girls basketball coach Ron Bridgewater.

Noblitt knows the feeling. So when he hears that his school is trying to raise money to purchase a hardwood floor, he lights up.

“I think it would be awesome,” he said. “We have worked so hard, it would really be cool.”

Columbus Christian Athletic Director Kevin Roth, who doubles as the school’s boys basketball coach, said a Cincinnati floor company has quoted a price of about $8 to $8.50 a square foot, which would total about $70,000 installed for the entire project. That would be basically a mid-quality maple floor that would have some minor imperfections in the wood.

Roth has brought up the idea of purchasing a new gymnasium floor for the past 10 years but always has tabled it.

Columbus Christian has an enrollment of just 210 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

As the school grows, Roth said the need for the new floor increases.

“Some of the IHSAA (Indiana High School Athletic Association) teams are accommodating,” Roth said. “But this year was the first year Crothersville would come here. They didn’t want to play on a tile floor.”

Scheduling teams willing to play on the surface is just one of the problems.

“There is the wear and tear on bodies,” Roth said. “Our kids have to play their entire high school career on a tile floor. You don’t notice it as much as a middle school player.”

The reason is simple. High school players jump higher and run faster and put a lot more stress on their bodies.

“You talk to the referees who do a game here,” Bridgewater said. “It kills them.”

Columbus Christian administrator Kendall Wildey said a new floor will be important to the growth of the school.

“If we are going to market ourselves as a great education, it’s time to step up,” said Wildey, who was the Jennings County head basketball coach from 1991-2000. “Our high school hasn’t been around so long (the first graduating class was 2003). We need to raise the standards of being a high school.

“We want to raise the bar in terms of our programming. We’re adding IHSAA schools to our schedule all the time. As a former IHSAA coach, I know that I would have wanted to play on a hardwood court.

“And our gym floor right now is a safety issue. It pertains to all our students.”

Obviously, Columbus Christian wants to buy a new floor. But where is the money going to come from?

Like any school, Columbus Christian has many budget priorities, such as teacher salaries.

Wildey said about $9,000 in donations has been raised and he hopes that, through community support and fundraisers, the other funds can be accumulated.

“If we took this out of our general fund, people would have a lot of questions,” Wildey said. “There would be a lot of issues you would face. As a school, we are looking to expand in so many areas.

“I know we are a small entity, but maybe we can explore reaching out to the community.”

Roth said that if the school could have 300 people or businesses to contribute $250 each, the floor could be purchased. The school is trying to get the word out to the community in hopes of raising pledges. It also will consider various fundraising options.

A new floor mostly likely would attract more students.

“We have lost students who had been through elementary school here because of facilities,” sophomore basketball player Nick Bridgewater said. “Number one, I think a wooden floor helps to keep kids here. We have a greater number of students now, and I think we have a window of opportunity. People have given, and they are wondering when they are going to see this thing. We need to get people excited.”

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