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The Student News Site of Pace High School

Pacer NYC

Aging Gym Poses Disadvantage to Student Athletes

photo Carolyn Taveras
Mr. Lee lifts portion of the gym’s Lego flooring, revealing the wet, black lining.

When Pace’s physical education teacher Mr. Lee lifted up a portion of the gym flooring, the air smelled of garbage. The barrier between the flooring and the foundation was wet and covered in a grainy, black substance.

The condition of the 18-year-old floor is a result of water damage, according to Mr. Lee, who is also the boys basketball and girls volleyball coach. It’s one of several maintenance issues in the gym that have left students and teachers alike concerned. School administration has asked the city for funding to renovate the gym, but city officials have been unresponsive, according to the principal Mr. Glatz.

“The admin has tried, but nothing is ‘unsafe,’ so not much is done,” said Ms. O’Sullivan, athletic director for Pace.

On Sept. 29, a raging storm struck New York and left many parts of the city flooded. The storm caused rainwater to leak from the street-level handball court into the basement gym. The water seeped under the gym floor and once it dried, air bubbles formed, resulting in bumpy and uneven flooring that hinders efficient play.

The gym already had problems to begin with, and the storm damage highlighted these conditions, students and teachers told Pacer NYC.

In addition to water damage, Mr. Lee said there are issues with air ventilation. He is worried there could be mold in the gym.

“It can get hard to breathe,” Mr. Lee said. “There are vents but they’re not always on.”

The low ceilings and uneven Lego floors in the gym pose significant challenges to the basketball and volleyball teams. Leslie Ormsby, captain and forward of the boys basketball team, said there are dead spots on the floor that make it difficult for players to dribble.

Portion of the lining ripped up from underneath the Lego floor. (Carolyn Taveras)

“Whenever you play in the gym it’s just dirty,” said Ronny Leon, boys basketball shooting guard. “It’s always dusty.”

In January, Pacer NYC reported that the girls volleyball team was unable to host games because of the gym’s condition. Leah Martinez, captain and outside hitter for the team, said she feels disappointed and undervalued as a result.

“Looking at the boys basketball team having home games and having that support makes me sad since not many people can come support our games,” Martinez said.

Athletes lose opportunities when they can’t play in their own gym. Not only does it affect their gameplay, but it discourages them from wanting to give it their all with a lack of support from their school.

While many may assume that the administration is to blame for the gym’s problems, Lee said it’s “out of their hands” and “more of a building issue than administration.”

Glatz said three or four years ago, members of the New York City Council and the NYC School Construction Authority visited the gym to assess its condition.

“They gave us some challenges about getting it resurfaced, feeling it was still a functional space,” Glatz said.

Many public schools are put in a continuous cycle of reaching out to higher-ups and still not getting the necessary funding that they require. Mayor Eric Adams recently cut funding for public schools, making that process a whole lot harder.

Christopher Marte, a New York City Council member representing District 1 in Manhattan, told Pacer NYC that he disagrees with Adams’ cuts. He expressed that the timing of the budget cuts was especially unfortunate since staff and students continue to struggle with many issues, including the effects of the pandemic.

If cuts are going to be made, “let’s not make it to our most vulnerable, which is our New York City public schools,” Marte said.

Marte previously worked as a basketball coach at M.S. 131, which shares the gym with Pace. Marte witnessed how the gym was aging and in need of attention — even then.

“I know firsthand, coaching three teams at that gym, that it has to be updated with not only new backboard nets but new floor and seating as well,” Marte said.

Mr. Glatz said he emailed Marte earlier this year to schedule a meeting about the gym, but he never heard back.

For the Pace community, the gym is a place that brings people together. Students feel frustrated that the value and importance of the gym is being overlooked.

“If they got money for those Yondr pouches, they got money for the gym,” Martinez said.


Reported with instructional assistance of Arabella Saunders, Report for America corps member and reporter with New York Focus.
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About the Contributors
Carolyn Taveras
Carolyn Taveras, Opinion & People of Pace Editor
Carolyn Taveras, a senior, loves to watch films and listen to music. She finds that through new experiences, she learns most about herself and who she is, which is why she is always up for an adventure. While school is very important to her, she makes sure to stay on top of her well-being and encourages others to do the same!
Ramata Diop
Ramata Diop, Reporter
Ramata Diop, a senior at Pace High School, is very passionate when it comes to anything involving fashion. She loves thrifting and hanging out with friends during her free time.

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