Pumped Up

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CHESAPEAKE — What a difference a little paint — and a lot of hours putting it on — can make. That’s what longtime Chesapeake football coach Carl Pemberton discovered as he checked out the locker and weight room he used to call his teams’ headquarters when he was calling the high school plays.

“It never in the world looked this good,” Pemberton said about the renovations at the dedication Monday evening.

Pemberton was Chesapeake High’s football coach for 26 years before going on to teach physical education at the elementary school.

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“The kids, it will mean the world to them,” he said. “You guys are so lucky.”

It started back in the spring when parents, students and staff got together to refurbish the athletic rooms. New flooring went into the weight room and shower room which was also replumbed and retiled. Some of the weight benches were recovered and some equipment replaced. And everywhere were new white walls complemented with Panther Pride logos and mottos in Chesapeake purple created by the students of high school art teacher Robin Kimball.

The upgrade was funded through $10,000 in private donations.

“This is a small example of what can happen when we work together,” Dr. Scott Howard, Chesapeake school superintendent, said. “I have dreams of a new track and turf field. I think the community will support it.”

It wasn’t just the bungalow by the field that got a new look. As students, staff, coaches and board members were gathering for the ceremony, Angie Underwood was up on scaffolding reviving the Panther design and lettering on the press box in time for Friday night’s first home game.

Underwood is sister to Kimball and has been part of the design team on the renovations.

“My grandfather taught here. I have a long lineage here,” Underwood said. “My mother had some of the same teachers as I have. My kids have some of the teachers as I did. Working on the weight room, it got me looking at the grounds and I wanted to make sure we’re proud. I want other people to see it and get excited that we care.”

One of those players who will get to take advantage of the new facility is Chesapeake High sophomore and football player Jacob Wells.

“This gives a new sense of pride and motivation, to see the Panther pride,” Wells said. “It’s something to work for.”