RED SPRINGS — George Coltharp has greeted college recruiters often over the last three seasons at Red Springs during the Red Devils’ recent rise inside a dank fieldhouse with dilapidated rooms, aging equipment and scuffed walls.
When he first arrived in 2011, it was no surprise why the 1A football program had trouble developing players, keeping coaches and struggled on the field.
“I had a coach tell me a few weeks ago that when he started recruiting our area, this was the worst-looking high school he had ever seen,” Coltharp said. “Now he says it’s wonderful. He said that he could tell a lot of love and time has been put into it.”
The powers that be at the Public Schools of Robeson County have made things very bright for the Red Devils this Christmas, a near six-figure outpouring of support to the area’s most financially-stricken athletics department that’s taken place since August.
Coltharp first approached PSRC Red Springs representative Mike Smith for aid in the spring at the urging of his administration. Coming off consecutive 10-win seasons and the school’s first football conference championship since 2004, the Red Devils needed help in order to sustain its established culture.
“I wanted our kids at Red Springs to be provided with the best of something for once in their lives,” Coltharp said. “Too often, they hear about how good other programs have it. The county came in and gave us a reboot, a refacing at Red Springs. They really showed they cared about the school when it was our turn.”
Over a grueling four-month renovation process that started in stages with fresh coats of paint in the fieldhouse, a resurfaced press box and a new football fence, the school’s former woodshop room was altered into a student-only training facility unmatched across Robeson County athletics as the crown jewel of the facelift.
Red Springs’ state-of-the-art weight room includes six individual workout stations with each featuring its own monstrous power rack. Dynamax medicine balls decorate each complimented by rubberized dumbbells, an upscale floor matting and highly-detailed team logos stitched into the headrest of each bench.
“It’s a beautiful new weight room and my kids love it,” longtime Red Springs basketball coach Glenn Patterson said before last week’s Robeson County Shootout. “It gives them their own personal place to get better, get stronger.”
Hired two years ago by then-principal Dan Ryberg, part of the draw for Coltharp coming to a struggling program was being promised a new weight room, a facility necessary to compete for conference championships in a competitive conference across all sports.
Thanks to construction budget cuts and bureaucratic red tape, it took another two years for it to come to fruition.
With the green light from central office, Coltharp contacted a coaching colleague who helped map out what needed to be done inside the woodshop room. Jeff Chapman of Red Zone Strength was awarded the bid and a plan was put into action.
“We never approached this as something needed just for football,” Coltharp said. “Our weight room is available to all of our athletes and our students. You’d be amazed at how happy our kids are to train at a place like this.”
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.