Oct. 13, 2005 Lack of attention to sports programs has caused several athletic facilities at local public schools to fall into disrepair. Myron Corbett, basketball coach at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School, said the problem has been compounding for years, making many of the schools' physical education offices and gymnasiums difficult to work or play in.
At Cancryn, for example, Corbett said recent rains have caused flooding in his office. "The roof leaks, which means the floor of the P.E. office is flooded. The drawers of the teachers' desks are swollen shut from the weather. It's like we're janitors, having to come in here and clean up every time it rains."
Corbett added he thinks these conditions have been allowed to continue because athletics mean "little" to education officials in the territory even though the programs are quite important to students. "The administrators think, we'll just give them [sports programs] what we can give them throw them a bone every now and then. That's ridiculous," Corbett said.
Clayton White, also a basketball coach at Cancryn, added to Corbett's statements by saying no one in the education system has come to look at the "deplorable" conditions of the school's P.E. office. "We've been complaining for quite some time now, and we can't get anyone in here to fix it," White said when contacted Thursday.
Working in these conditions has caused a drop in the morale of coaches and P.E. teachers, White said. "We see these things everyday," he said. "This morning [Thursday], for example, I come in and the chair in my office is wet, my desk is wet. No one can be happy, ready to go to work, when they are surrounded by things like this."
White said he feels Cancryn is presently one of the worst schools in the territory because most of the campus is littered with construction. "The classrooms which were destroyed in the fire a few months ago have not been fixed, first of all," White said. "Also, we've been told since the 1980s that the school is scheduled to be moved to another location. I wish that would just hurry up and happen so things can get better."
These conditions are what prompted him to join the coaches' strike, which started on St. Thomas in mid-September, Corbett said. (See "Coaches to Decide Whether to Continue Strike").
Corbett, who was also a basketball coach at Charlotte Amalie High School for eleven years, also spoke of the state of CAHS's gym, which has not been renovated since the building was created in the 1970s.
"You want to talk about the height of embarrassment I remember when we had a team come from off island to play the CAHS team in some sport. The game, which was inside the gym, was rained out because the floor was flooded with rainwater."
Corbett said he also remembers an incident when a team from Puerto Rico came to play in the CAHS gym for a basketball tournament. Corbett said the gym was so hot, a few of the Puerto Rican team's players had to step outside to keep from fainting. "That gym is so poorly ventilated," Corbett said.
Pedrito Estrill, coach of the men's basketball team at CAHS, expressed the same sentiments as Corbett. Estrill said Tuesday he is surprised more parents do not complain about the state of the gym.
"Things have to improve," Estrill said.
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