ROFF — Roff High School athletes will get to play in their brand-new gymnasium for the first time Thursday as part of the Roff SRT Invitational.

It’s about time.

The old gym at Roff, used for the last time when Red Oak visited on Dec. 19, has been around for decades. No one can pinpoint exactly when the first games were played in the aging facility, but it’s widely believed to be “the oldest gym that was still in primary use in the state,” according to Roff Superintendent Scott Morgan.

“We’re glad to get off that list,” said Roff boys coach Larry Johnston.

Some Roff oldtimers have said they can remember games there in the early 1930s. Others think it may have been in use years earlier.

“It was a long time coming,” Morgan said. “It was overdue. We greatly appreciate all of our stakeholders and all of our community members that stepped up and helped make this happen.”

A huge trophy case — that’s lit up and can be seen from the road at night — greets visitors when they come through the front doors. A new, more spacious concession stand is also part of the lobby.

The new floor is snazzy with a different shade inside the 3-point line and black lanes.

“We’re really proud of our floor. We think it has a unique design with the wood stain color inside the 3-point line and the black lanes,” Morgan said.

Maximum occupancy inside the gym is 936, but Morgan said it will comfortably seat 900 spectators. The home side has chair back seating, with the front row very near the court.

“One of the things we’re most proud of is we have great ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility now,” Morgan said. “We have excellent bathrooms — more stalls than we’ve ever had before.”

The bleachers are retractable, allowing the floor to be converted into two full-length courts to create a better practice situation.

One of Johnston’s favorite features is a state-of-the-art weight room.

“It’s as good as we can ask for. We have a weight room that’s as good as most small colleges,” he said. “The functionality of it is awesome for players and coaches.”

The new home locker rooms are equipped with customized “Roff Tiger” whiteboards, and every player will have his or her own metallic nameplate to go above their locker.

Johnston said he wasn’t sure if all the fine-tuning of the new gym would be done in time for his team to have a full-fledged practice session inside before the tournament tips off Thursday. However, the Tigers should be able to have one or two shoot-arounds before the real games begin.

The SRT Invitational begins Thursday morning, when the Stonewall girls battle New Lima at 10:30 a.m. Both Roff teams are in the prime time slots. The Lady Tigers face Coleman at 6:30 p.m., and the Tigers battle Coleman at 7:50 p.m.

“It’s as exciting as it’s been around here in a long time. We’re having a good year, they’re excited about the playoffs and we’re getting in a new gym,” Johnston said.

Morgan is thrilled to see everything finally falling into place with the huge project.

“We’ve been excited for Thursday for it seems like for years now. We’re looking forward to kicking off the tournament and getting things going in it,” he said. “We’re thankful our kids and our community are going to have the benefit of this great facility for years to come.”

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.

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