Jordan-Matthews has given its athletic facilities a makeover this fall.
The school completed its new track last week and made numerous improvements to its weight room. These are the latest major upgrades for Jordan-Matthews’ athletic facilities since the school replaced the football and basketball sound systems last year.
Athletic director Barry West said the improvements are for the best interests of the students and their athletic goals. According to West, these improvements were due as the track and weight room had not been upgraded in decades.
“The primary thing is meeting the needs of our students,” West said. “We want to make it a place where kids want to work out.”
In the weight room, Jordan-Matthews is replacing old and rusty trap bars, dumbbells and about half of its benches. The room’s layout has been rearranged, too, with weight racks placed along the walls to open up more floor space.
The school is also replacing its metal barbell plates with rubber ones that read “Jordan-Matthews” on its faces.
Regarding the track, the old surface was removed in the middle of August, and the new one was installed over a two-week period. Although the rubber surface still needs more time to rest before it can support heavy running, West said it will be ready for track season in the spring.
Jordan-Matthews athletic trainer, Courtney Copeland, noticed a high number of athletes dealing with shin splints since the track and field season started in February. After conducting research as to why that was, Copeland found that the track’s condition was to blame.
“The issues with the track were that it was completely worn down,” Copeland said. “Athletes were running on concrete. There were some areas that had holes and divots. That poses a risk for injury because athletes normally are wearing spikes on the track.”
The track’s condition forced the Jets’ track team to take extra precautions, including training in running shoes only, pre-practice ankle strengthening and mobility exercises, more running technique drills and longer training room hours.
Copeland also recommended that the school not host any track meets with the former track’s issues.
The school sent Copeland’s findings on injuries and the track’s condition to the county in a request for a new track surface.
Other minor improvements included new soccer goals and repainted goal posts.
West expressed his gratitude to Jordan-Matthews’ administration and Chatham County Schools for their contributions in facilitating the school’s athletic upgrades. He said they, and the community, were very helpful in his goal of giving the school’s athletes better opportunities to improve themselves.
“Mrs. Burko and our assistant superintendent have been extremely supportive in our efforts in making this happen,” West said.
West highlighted Mike McPherson, a 1978 Jordan-Matthews graduate, as part of the community support. For years, he has handled the mowing and general upkeeping of the school’s athletic grounds and recently fixed a broken fan in the weight room that had been out of use for five years.
“No way we get anything done here without Mike,” West said.