Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lakewood, Tarpon Springs get grants to improve athletic facilities

For years, Lakewood's athletic facilities have been inadequate.

The ceiling in the gymnasium is so low that volleyballs often hit tiles during games, exposing air ducts and vents because the tiles are not replaced.

The gym's seating capacity is so small that rivalry and playoff basketball games are usually moved to Eckerd College to accommodate crowds. The track on the football field is asphalt and has only six lanes, not the eight needed for postseason meets.

The facilities are not a fit for an athletic program that ranks as one of the best in the bay area. The girls basketball team won a state title in 2011, the boys track team won in 2013, the football team made the final four last fall, and boys basketball reached the state final last month.

"It's a joke," Lakewood girls basketball coach and athletic coordinator Necole Tunsil said.

The school received some monetary relief — $12,000 — this week as part of the Muscle Milk Recovery Grant Program. Tunsil said the money will be used to replace the two wooden backboards and rims on the side of the gymnasium with glass boards, as well as buy an athletic training table, hydrating stations and less bulky weightlifting equipment (such as medicine balls and dumbbells).

Tarpon Springs also got $15,000 through the same grant program and will use the funds primarily to upgrade the weight room, football coach Ron Hawn said.

"For us, it is a start, but it is not enough," Tunsil said. "I look around and every high school in the St. Petersburg area has had their gymnasium done in the past 10 years except us. And really, all our facilities are in need of upgrades. Because we're the closest school to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, does the county think we've just been annexed by Manatee County? It sure seems like we've been ignored."

Pinellas County athletic coordinator Nick Grasso said in an email that he was unaware of any timetable for the county to improve Lakewood's gym.

Tunsil said she is trying to work with former Spartan standout and current Tampa Bay Buc Louis Murphy on getting community support for additional funding for improvements.

"There's still work to do," Tunsil said. "We've made do. Look at how much success we've had in just about every sport here. We'd just like our facilities to reflect that."

Lakewood, Tarpon Springs get grants to improve athletic facilities 04/04/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 4, 2014 10:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Cubs

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    Chris Archer's night ended with his 11th loss, but he and the Rays should feel good about his six solid innings. After the forearm tightness scare in Chicago, he had two rough outings (15 hits, 11 runs, seven innings), so Tuesday was a reassuring rebound.

  4. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  5. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494