John Essex enjoys new weight room

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2005

The John Essex logo of a muscle-bound Hornet adorns the school’s hallways, gymnasium, and now one wall of the school’s new athletics weight room. Thanks to that weight room, don’t be surprised if Essex’s athletes start looking a little more like their logo.

“This is something that will improve our program drastically,” Essex head football and basketball coach Alphus Shipman said of his football team. “Before, we hadn’t been able to match up physically. In the past year we’ve played teams we were equal to athletically, but over the course of the game they’d be stronger than we were. With [the weight room] we’ll have better athletes. They’ll be physically stronger in the fourth quarter.”

Shipman says all of Essex’s programs will benefit from the weight room, not just the football team.

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“This will benefit all sports,” he says. “Boys’ basketball, even the girl’s hoops teams…we might not see the effects now, but in a couple of years you’ll see a big difference for all our teams.”

Shipman says to this point there hasn’t been any problems trying to get the Hornet football players to spend time in the weight room. In fact, he says, they volunteer.

“The kids love it,” he says. They’ll come in and work out even after practice…it builds self-esteem. It makes you want to gin there and do what you have to do to get better.”

The weight room is a two-room addition alongside the Hornets’ locker rooms. Shipman said the weight room has been funded largely through donations from churches, Essex alumni, a gift from Rep. Thomas Jackson, and a grant applied for by Nettie Andrews of the group Friends of John Essex. Shipman offered his thanks for everyone who had worked to provide Essex’s athletics with what will be a huge boost.

“We love it,” he says, “and we’re very proud of it.”