WGGS Gators' home court advantage slips away
Home court advantage is gone for the Walnut Grove Gators, but it appears to have been done for the sake of player safety.
Late last month, head coach George Bergen moved his team’s home games from the Walnut Grove Secondary gymnasium to the new Langley Events Centre fieldhouse.
The reason? The main gymnasium floor at the high school was proving to be too slippery.
“It is a skating rink,” said the long-time coach.
“The floor is not safe; it is slippery.”
With the Langley School District a partner in the LEC, it is not costing the school or team anything to play their games at the facility.
The concerns over the floor go back to last summer.
Mike Cohee, a parent of one of the players on the team as well as an assistant coach, said he was surprised with how quickly the sanding of the floor was done back in August.
“When I inspected it, there were numerous areas that still had the finish from two years ago,” he said.
At one of the first practices they had, Cohee said two members of the team slipped and slammed their heads on the floor, cutting themselves in the process.
Two others have since suffered sprained ankles and another two have dealt with pulled groins and a third had a strained groin.
According to Cohee, some players have come up to him and expressed concern about running too fast on the floor for fear of injury.
“(These) kids’ health and safety should be paramount,” Cohee wrote in an email to school principal George Kozlovic and superintendent Suzanne Hoffman.
Since the high school opened 23 years ago — and Bergen has been with the basketball program from the start — the floor has been resurfaced every couple of years, adding a new coating on top each time.
In Bergen’s estimation, that is about 14 times.
“It is not a solution,” Bergen said, adding that the ideal situation would be to rip out the floor and start from scratch.
He estimated the cost at $40,000.
According Langley School District spokesperson Ken Hoff, their facilities personnel contacted the manufacturer of the product used in the flooring and after consultation, adjustments were made to the maintenance procedures which resulted in greatly improved floor conditions.
A special cleaning product has been incorporated into the maintenance procedure and a ‘scrubber’ has been set up to properly optimize the floor surface.
“Since the upgrade to maintenance procedures, the floor is considered suitable and in good condition,” Hoff wrote in an email to The Times.