Concerns being voiced on Gallup High renovation
The Gallup volleyball team’s predicament has been challenging for the players and coaches.
The Lady Bengals are without a home due to the high school gym renovations. The school is getting the bleachers replaced, and its floor is being redone.
The team has to be bused to either Chief Manuelito Middle School or the UNM-Gallup branch for practices, and the Bengals play its home games at Miyamura High School.
“This has affected us a lot because we’re without a home,” Gallup sophomore Riley Whitehair said. “We’re moving from different gyms, and it’s awful that we don’t have our own gym to practice on.”
Gallup coach LaRena Morris said not having their facility has impacted how her girls play.
“This is the most difficult season I’ve had in my 11 years of coaching,” she said. “I feel like this team can put so much out there. We have some outstanding hitters, and we’ve got a good setter.
“We’re just not coming together, and I think it’s because we’ve been displaced,” she added. “It’s just frustrating because this team is really good.”
Gallup McKinley County Schools Athletics Coordinator Ben Chavez said the delays involving Gallup High is also occurring at Gallup Middle School.
“It’s just as much an inconvenience for me,” he said. “It’s not that Gallup High is being picked on; Gallup Mid School has not had a gym all year for anything either.
“We’re transporting mid school kids to practices and for games,” he added. “And that includes my own kids, and so it’s just an inconvenience for everyone.”
Chavez said the district is busing middle school kids to UNM or JFK Middle School for practices, while Gallup High uses the facility at Chief Manuelito and UNM.
In an email sent to the Navajo Times by Angela Smith, whose daughter plays on the Gallup volleyball team, she expressed her concerns about how GMCS is handling the situation.
“I’m writing this email to hopefully bring some attention to this urgent matter,” Smith wrote. “The volleyball team has not been able to consistently use their gym since April. The school district pulled out several bleachers to reinstall new ones.
“This has caused a mess at many of the schools across the district,” she added.
Of the two high schools in Gallup, Smith said the district sought to complete the renovation plans at Miyamura High before considering to finish the town’s flagship high school.
“Gallup High has only one gym,” she said. “And when it came down to which school the district would concentrate on, they decided to work on Miyamura first, which has two gyms.
“This decision does not make sense to me,” she added.
Chavez said there are some misconceptions that Miyamura has two working gyms.
“Gym Two has been closed, and it’s under construction as well,” he said. “We have four volleyball teams from Miyamura, three from Gallup, and two from Gallup Middle School. We’re bussing them to different practices.
“If I had control over it, I would try to get it fixed,” he continued. “I’m not in the construction, I’m the athletic director, and I fight for them every day.”
Attempts to reach GMCS Construction and Maintenance Supervisor Roxy Flanders were unsuccessful.
The Times’ was asked to email questions to Flanders last week inquiring about the completion plan at Gallup High, and at press time, we have not received a response. On Tuesday, a phone call was made to Flanders, and the line was immediately cut off when this reporter stated his name.
And although he can’t speak for Flanders, Chavez said the gym renovation project had been pushed back.
“I don’t have any control over projects, (but) it’s changing weekly,” he said. “I don’t know what the progress is or what the timeline is. Every day it seems like it changes. I am hopeful that by the time basketball starts that it’s done, but I’m in the same boat as you are. I’m very, very, very worried.”
Smith said they should have met with some of the district’s administrators to address their concerns, but Chavez and Gallup High athletic director Jessica Dooley were a no-show to that meeting.
“GHS principal Tammy Hall showed up, but she didn’t know any of the answers to the questions that were asked,” she said. “Her answer to everything was that Gallup (High) will finally have a nice gym.
“How does that solve the problem we are currently in?” she added. “There is no urgency nor time frame of when the construction would be complete. It’s a mystery as to why this was done during the fall sports season. No one wants to answer questions from the District Office, and everyone is pointing fingers at one another.”
As a concerned parent, Smith said she’s distraught with the lack of planning as the volleyball team has endured a lot of hardship with players being “shuffled around.”
“This is not fair to a team that are defending back-to-back district champs,” she said. “There are two (high) schools in Gallup, but we are always referred to as the Native school, and we always get crapped on by the school district.
“And this needs to be stopped,” she said.