Photo: Pictured above is the new cooling/heating pipe covered in Cardinal red at Beck Field House in the campus of Gadsden State Community College. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
For the first time in the 53-year history of Beck Field House, Gadsden State student-athletes, coaches and fans will not wilt iwhen the summer/early fall temperature inside the building climbs into the 80 and 90-degree range.
Athletic Director Mike Cancilla confirmed that the heretofore air-condition-less facility will feature a new cooling and heating system for the 2022-23 school year. He said that most of the unit, including the two ceiling pipes that will dispense the air, is complete, noting that Coosa Heating & Cooling is waiting on three electrical panels that will run each of the three outside units.
“Some electrical boxes are delayed because of shipping issues, which is totally out of their control,” said Cancilla. “They’ve done everything else; all the vents are in place and all of the gas lines have been installed. It’s going to be a completely climate-controlled environment when we flip the switch. I can’t say enough good things about those guys. They’ve been on point with everything that’s within their control.”
Cancilla said that an installing an air-conditioning system for the gym has been one of his goals since he became AD 15 years ago. The hiring of Dr. Kathy Murphy as college president in January of 2021, however, quickly expedited the process. Construction began this past November.
“When Dr. Murphy walked into [Beck Field House] on her first day and I told her that the building had no AC, she was shocked and appalled and said [getting a new system in place] would be one of the first things that she would address. She really pushed the agenda, and it kind of took on a life of its own.”
Murphy noted that although the entire field house requires an upgrade, getting the new HVAC in place was the ideal starting point.
“The gym was built in 1968, so we are an ounce past due in getting appropriate climate control,” she said. “Our entire gymnasium needs attention, including a new floor and several buckets of paint. Given our interest in our athletic programs and our desire to grow and add more programs, we cannot remain subpar in our facilities. Our students deserve better than the current condition of some of our buildings, and certainly our athletes deserve better competition space. We will stay the course in finding the resources to continue to care for all buildings and grounds at Gadsden State.”
Cancilla pointed out that the system will be climate controlled to the extreme.
“The architects told is that when this system is up and running, we can make it as cold as a hockey rink or as hot as the tropics. That’s the flexibility we’re going to have. They also went the extra mile as far as the aesthetics, in that the vents are still visible but blend in as well. It’s the same system was installed in The Ally at the Gadsden Mall, which looks great.”Canccilla expects that the new system will help in both recruiting and attendance.
“Until now, we’d bring in kids whose high school gyms, even the small 1A schools, had air conditioning, and we didn’t. So this will kind of level the playing field a little bit, especially with volleyball, when it’s 100 degrees in here in early August when pre-season practice starts.
“To be honest, I think this will get more fans in here during volleyball. I know of some faculty members who told me that they will come to a volleyball match in October but not August and September, because it’s too hot in here.”
As far as the possible re-instatement of the school’s baseball and softball programs, Cancilla said that he and Murphy currently are the in process of contacting potential committee members.
“We’ve got some names who are more than excited to be a part of it. Once we get through that phase, we’ll have to set a specific agenda for when we meet, because we’re not going to have meetings just for the sake of having a meeting. We need to be specific about the task at hand and set a timeline and stick to it.”