Former art teacher designs new gym floor at BCHS


Brownstown Central Community School Corp. officials and former art teacher Jerry Brown worked through several design changes for the new gymnasium floor at the high school.

Careful thought and consideration went into making it just right because it’s going to be in place for at least the next 50 years.

With a large Brave head at center court, interlocking BC logos near the free throw lines, The Pit on both sides of the court, Brownstown Central facing the home crowd, Braves along both baselines, black around the perimeter and a darker shade of wood on the free throw lanes, the new floor is sure to make an impression as people enter the gym.

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While he hasn’t been able to see the floor in person yet, Brown said he likes what he sees in the pictures of it.

"It always looks better in person. It always looks better after you get it done," said the 1986 BCHS graduate, who retired after 15 years of teaching art and coaching for the school corporation to focus on his business, Celery Signs, full time.

"Growing up and going to school there, to me, it’s one of the big things," he said. "To be able to contribute to something like this for the community, it’s humbling, and I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to do it. Like anybody from their hometown, it’s nice to have that pride, to have that opportunity to create something."

Assistant Superintendent Jade Peters said Brown heard seven years ago that the floor was on its last sanding and needed to be replaced in 2020. Ever since, Brown has been working on making it a premier design, Peters said.

"I think it was important to have Jerry involved because he understands the rich history at Brownstown Central and the pride that comes along with it," Peters said.

The old floor was installed when the high school opened in 1964. During a board of trustees meeting in January, Peters said the floor has been sanded until it can’t be sanded anymore. Sanding had been done every seven years, and he said the last time that was done, nails were showing.

The board approved Kovert Hawkins Architects Inc. of Jeffersonville to advertise open bids for the floor. Cincinnati Floor Co. was the only bidder and was awarded the project.

On March 5, the corporation conducted a gym floor auction to give people a chance to bid on pieces of the floor. That raised $29,000 for the high school athletic department. One piece not up for bid was the center circle because it’s going to be hung on a wall inside the gym.

Four days after the auction, a crew began removing the 8,000-square-foot floor for winning bidders to pick up their pieces.

Pictures of the new floor were posted on the corporation’s Facebook page April 17, and Peters recently said workers had a few minor things to finish to complete the project.

The original plan was for the floor to be done by May 15 so the Class of 2020 could be the first to walk on it to obtain their diplomas May 23. But the COVID-19 pandemic led to schools closing and students receiving instruction via eLearning. Now, officials are planning a prerecorded virtual graduation ceremony and a parade.

That means students doing summer workouts for volleyball and basketball may be the first to use the gym floor and the first official event could be a home volleyball match in the fall.

Even though it came at a higher cost ($145,802), the corporation went with Cincinnati Flooring’s MVP floor. When officials visited the company’s showroom in December, Peters said only one other high school had this type of floor, which can be found in high school gyms and college and NBA arenas.

He dribbled a basketball on the MVP floor and said the technology behind it with the vibration and shock absorption is top-notch.

"If I’m standing on a standard floor, even the new up-to-date ones, you could feel the vibration in your feet. Now on that MVP floor, if you were dribbling there, I couldn’t feel it in my feet," Peters said.

"What they were saying, and the research shows, that vibration is as much a cause of injury as the shock because vibration, they say, causes the muscles to pull off the bone, so their technology is ‘let’s get this as safe a floor as we can,’" he said. "Obviously, that’s our ultimate goal, too."

Peters said the life expectancy of the floor is 50 to 60 years, which is in the range of how long the old floor was used.

"I am really excited about being able to have one of the safest floors on the market here at Brownstown Central," he said.

"It is also exciting to be a part of something that hopefully won’t happen for another 50 years, and I feel like our committee has worked hard to research all of the options for gym floors as well as a great design to go along with it," Peters said. "I hope that every time a community member walks into the gym, they feel a sense of pride."

Brown estimated he and the committee went through a couple dozen designs until making a final selection.

"It’s only done every so many years," he said. "You don’t want to get too extravagant, but you want to keep it where it’s modern."

The logos on the floor are nostalgic because the Brave head was designed by Warton Reynolds, who taught art when the school opened in 1964, and the interlocking BC was used on the original gym floor.

"Brownstown has a unique situation where they have two logos," Brown said. "It was trying to find a way to incorporate both together."

Going through all of the design changes and now seeing the finished product is very rewarding, Peters said.

"Our committee spent hours working on the design," he said. "As a matter of fact, the last meeting we had on the design, I walked into that meeting thinking there was no way it could get better than what had already been picked out, and what do you know? I felt like we made it better."

For Braves fans, Peters said, "I hope every citizen walks in and says, ‘Wow! I am proud to be a part of Brownstown Central.’"

For visiting fans, he said it’s about leaving an impression of professionalism, quality and sportsmanship. The new floor goes along with improvements made in the gym in 2018, including remodeled locker rooms and areas for the band and press, new wooden seating and air conditioning.

"I am a big believer in branding your school or business so that you have created something memorable, something unique, something special," Peters said. "We have already had comments from people that work in the gym floor business that this is one of their favorite designs they have seen on a high school floor."

Along with seeing the new floor in person, there’s one other thing Brown wants to experience.

"That new floor smell," he said, laughing.