PRUNTYTOWN— Despite the hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taylor County Middle School (TCMS) Lady Knights basketball team has been hard at work on and off the court, making improvements to the program.
As the team anxiously awaited the green light for their season to begin, they didn’t waste a moment of the longer than normal off season, using the time to make upgrades to their facilities and focusing on strength conditioning.
Head Coach Bobby Beltner, alongside of a group of dedicated volunteers completed some much needed upgrades to the girls locker room, with the addition of player benches, a fresh coat of paint and sprucing up the walls with motivational quotes, as well at the team’s logo. But they didn’t stop there.
“In the gym, we installed a new sound system, along with a light show for player introductions,” Beltner shared.
And because of his dedication to his players, the program and its success all of these improvements were completed at no cost to the school or the board of education.
“I have always donated my football coaching salary back into that program and will do the same for the TCMS girls basketball program. I am a firm believer if you’re coaching kids at this age for the paycheck, then you’re doing it for the wrong reason,” expressed Beltner.
In addition to the facility upgrades, the team purchased some new equipment, and when they hit the court, they will be sporting brand new uniforms.
To makes these purchases, the girls had to get to work with fundraising efforts.
“In order to purchase one third of the uniforms, as well as much needed basketballs, that cost comes out of the girls basketball account,” Beltner explained. “Money in that account is dependent solely on what we fundraise and put into said account. School sports programs are basically required to be self-sufficient.”
As a way to raise their share of the money, the team hosted a shoot-a-thon where each player gathered lump-sum donations or monetary pledges per shot made in a round of shooting 100 free-throws during practice.
The event proved to be a success earning the program nearly $2,000.
According to Beltner, after the team paid their share from their own account, the remaining cost of the new uniforms was covered by the school and the SOS.
“This is done on a three year rotation for the sports programs at TCMS,” he disclosed.
Armed with new gear and upgraded facilities, the team is more than excited to hit the hardwood.
Continuing to overcome obstacles and injuries, the Knights have been handed a 16 game schedule over a span of just five weeks.
“The preparations have went well, but we have been hit with the injury bug a bit so we are trying to work through that. Our schedule is a bit rigorous, so we better be in shape,” Beltner commented. “It is fun to watch the excitement of the girls possibly getting to have a little part of normalcy after a year of unknowns due to COVID-19. I think this year, if we get to play one game, then we will have won the championship.”
The Lady Knights will be in action on Monday, March 8 at home against West Fairmont Middle School. Junior Varsity is slated to tip at 6:00 p.m., and Varsity action will begin at 7:15 p.m.
The staff of the Mountain Statesman would like to wish the Lady Knights the best of luck on their season!