Carroll College just replaced the original gym floor inside the PE Center that was dedicated in 1970. That court saw its fair share of wear in tear.
The new floor is certainly impressive but one unforgettable thing about the old one is it survived a train wreck … Literally.
Steve Jones has been working with Carroll athletics for more than 30 years. He was preparing for work at home about a mile away just before 5 a.m. on the frigid morning of February 2, 1989. He says he heard a train moving faster than normal down the tracks.
“And then I heard what initially sounded like cars hooking up in a yard … And then I just looked up because the sound travels … Saw the train cars going up in the air… and then momentarily a large explosion …
Jones says the explosion caused heavy damage across the campus, including the PE Center.
“When you walk into the gymnasium you can look outside. We had, you know, parts and pieces of train in the floor and just parts of the ceiling that fell in,” said Jones.
Miraculously, no one was killed.
Almost thirty years after the accident, current Fighting Saints coaches are excited about their new, state-of-the-art surface that features parts of the athletics re-brand.
“The soft wood and the padding underneath, I think it’s gonna be a lot easier on the bodies. The amount of jumping that we do in volleyball, sprinting across the floor,” said volleyball head coach Maureen Boyle.
“I like having Halo there because it makes my five kids happy. We used to have, you know, the mountains image there and I would tell the guys get to mountains. Because we like to get into the heart of lane, but now we can say get to Halo and so that’s awesome,” said men’s basketball head coach Dr. Carson Cunningham.
Jones has seen this gym floor at its worst.
“After an explosion, being exposed to the weather for six months, fixed back up and it still survived until now from 1989,” said Jones.
Now, he can enjoy the new surface at its best.
“We think this is going to be a more user-friendly floor. It’s a good floor, you know, in the scheme of floors go, it’s a top-notch college type of floor and so we’re excited about it,” said Jones.
That old floor certainly had a lot of character after almost fifty years of use and they expect this one to be around for another half-century.
Fans will have a chance to purchase parts of the old floor as a memento.
Visit the Saints’ website for more information.