Members of the Sanford community recently gathered to announce the opening of the Struthers Family Sports Center by holding an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. The celebration marked the completion of an extensive renovation project that began in February, and the Sports Center’s first significant renovation in 30 years.
In attendance were members of Sanford’s board of trustees, significant donors, and Head of School Mark Anderson. Present, too, was the entire Struthers family: Sanford Trustee Emeritus Sharon Struthers, husband Ric, and their three children Ryan, Brice, and Corrie, all of whom are Sanford graduates.
Ted Dwyer, president of Sanford’s board of trustees, and Mark Anderson each spoke to acknowledge the contributions of those who made this project possible. Particularly recognized was the Struthers family, whose $1,000,000 gift to the Sports Center project became the largest individual donation to Sanford in the school’s 90-year history.
The improvements to the Sports Center include new flooring on both basketball courts and the wrestling room, improved locker rooms for athletes and coaches, updated bleachers and equipment, a new lobby, and the installation of a climate control system for the whole building.
“While the building is the same, everything from the concrete under the wood flooring to the ceiling is new,” notes Ted Dwyer, president of Sanford’s board of trustees. Upon entering the completed space for the first time, Dwyer added how he “felt extremely proud that the building will operate on the same level of excellence that Sanford athletics does.”
Sanford Athletic Director Joan Samonisky explained that the Sports Center renovation project began through a need to maintain its older facilities. “The ceiling insulation was old and failing. We had condensation issues, causing drops of water to fall on the gym floors. That was our initial motivating factor, but then we quickly realized how ‘tired’ the building looked after 30 years! That's what started this fantastic project planning.”
After identifying the need to make significant changes to practical aspects of the building, school leadership began to explore how to further improve the Sanford athletics experience by further renovating the building. Mark Anderson recalls that in his early conversations about facilities upgrades, the Struthers family “had indicated that they were most hopeful to do something with athletics...they’re a very sports-oriented family and know the power of sports.” What eventually came out of these conversations was a plan for extensive renovations to the Sports Center which were unveiled in October.
Beyond the practical improvements to the building, the Sports Center renovation project will directly enhance the Sanford experience for students across all three divisions. “For students from as young as three years old to juniors and seniors in high school, [the Sports Center] is one of the only buildings they’ll use throughout their entire time at Sanford” explains Anderson. With physical education classes beginning in the morning, and varsity-level games extending into the early evening, the Sports Center will have around-the-clock use.
For many, the Sports Center serves as a first point of contact with Sanford. Fourteen of Sanford’s 16 state championship-winning teams played in Sanford’s current Sports Center, attracting large numbers of spectators each season. Ted Dwyer notes that “For many, the only building they will experience at Sanford is the Sports Center.” For this reason, it was crucial to him and the board of trustees that the Sports Center be modernized to provide a welcoming environment to guests that is representative of Sanford. Particularly important in this effort is the new Sports Center lobby named in memory of Gregg Bacchieri. A close friend of Ric Struthers and his colleague at MBNA, Mr. Bacchieri was also a Sanford parent and trustee emeritus of the board. “Having the [Struthers and Bacchieri] names back-to-back like that seemed very fitting” notes Mark Anderson.
Although the Sports Center project is complete, Sanford athletics does not plan to stop seeking ways to improve. Joan Samonisky maintains that “There is always room to grow: as a person, as a team, as a program, as a school. Mark and I work to put the best coaches in place to lead our individual sport programs, and we want to provide our athletes and coaches with the best facilities we can provide.” With the completion of the Sports Center renovation, Sanford athletics can continue to grow with confidence. Samonisky adds, “The ‘original’ Sports Center carried us through about 30 years. This renovation should take us into the next 30 years for current and future Warriors to enjoy!”