Runnin' Revs show off renovated fieldhouse
By JUDY SHERARD
By JUDY SHERARD
Basketball returned to Al Billinger Fieldhouse Friday night.
It wasn't the Thomas More Prep-Marian High School Monarchs who took the floor, though.
Instead the Runnin' Revs, a team made up of young priests and seminarians, faced off against local Catholic youth, said TMP-Marian Principal Kathy Taylor.
The game gave the school a chance to show off the renovated facility and benefited the seminary education fund. More than $1,000 was raised in the free will offering.
The Catholic Diocese of Salina hosts regular fundraisers for the fund, but this is a first at TMP-Marian.
"It seemed like the right thing to help support them, and a way to do our part," Taylor said. "I couldn't think of a better way to initiate the fieldhouse."
Except for some events which only use the bottom portion of the facility, the fieldhouse, built in 1951, has been closed since early November. The State Fire Marshal's Office declared the maximum number of occupants safely allowable in the bleachers was 49 persons, based on the location and capacity of exits. Basketball games and events such as graduation were conducted at other sites.
Jared Schumacher, a TMP-Marian junior basketball player, is looking forward to playing in the fieldhouse this year.
Last year the team practiced there, but for games had to "change to other courts we don't know very well," he said.
"The fire safety issues have been addressed, and it's ready for the start of the volleyball season," Taylor said.
Capacity is now 589, but the school hopes to increase that number with another fire exit on the east side.
Attendance at some of the late season basketball games exceed that number, so school officials expect to have an additional fire exit completed by then.
Except for the door at the northwest corner of the upper level of the fieldhouse, the renovation was on the building's exterior with a fire escape stairs.
As for the basketball court -- "it's still the pit," Taylor said.
She was looking forward to the game, and she wasn't disappointed.
"The young priests and seminarians are very serious about this," she said.
Current high school basketball players couldn't play, but the game gave 2014 TMP-Marian graduates and other students a chance to play in the fieldhouse.
Two on the Teen Men team, Adam Schivi and Jordan Gottschalk, were 2014 graduates and former basketball players.
Laura Schoenberger, Gottschalk's grandmother, has been attending his games since he was a freshman, and came to watch him one more time.
Not being able to play in the fieldhouse last year "was hard on those boys," she said.
She knows "some of the seminary boys, too."
Six of the Runnin Revs have local ties. Four, Father Gale Hammerschmidt, Alex Becker, Mike Leiker and Andy Hemmeke are TMP graduates, and two, Andrew Rockers and Chad Stramel, graduated from Hays High School.
Hammerschmidt said people think being a priest is a boring life.
"Growing up we were just regular guys. God calls all sorts of people."
The game, won by the Runnin' Revs with a score of 58-56, was followed by an ice cream social.
"It's a nice gathering before school starts," Taylor said.