Walmart grant aids Strathmore weight room upgrade

The cushions where a person's head is supposed to lay are worn thin with the padding exposed. On some, duct tape attempts to hold pieces together.

Seat cushions are blackened with age and use. Some have their yellowed bellies on full display while the stitching is halfway undone on others.

The colored paint from the weight plates and weight benches is peeled and worn from decades of wear.

This is the weight room equipment for Porterville Unified School District's most decorated football program.

Speaking in a video called “Perseverance” on YouTube, Strathmore High School head football coach, Jeromy Blackwell, discussed the Spartans' facilities.

“We're the Strathmore Spartans and everything that we have, facility-wise, is very Spartan,” Blackwell said. “Our weight room is hand-me downs from other schools. In fact, we have, I think three or four bench presses still left over from the Corcoran prison.”

But change is on the way for the football program, as well as the high school. On Thursday, the Spartans received two checks totaling $1,500 as a part of Walmart's Local Community Grants. The money will be used to buy new equipment for the Spartans' weight room.

“We are passionate about helping our community,” Walmart store manager, Suzi Perez, said. “Strathmore, they have an amazing football team but they receive low amount of funds due to their head count of their school. So it was important to us that we helped somebody that needed the money. I put it out there for my associates, there were about nine other organizations that had applied for grants, and my associates chose Strathmore. So it was really exciting for us.”

Strathmore athletic director, Ryan Born, said the school estimates the cost of equipment to be around $100,000 and the plan is to have the project completed by the time students return from winter break.

“Strathmore High School is very appreciative of the generous donation towards our weight room,” Born said. “The #WalmartCares Community Grant is a great way of giving back and getting involved with the community of Strathmore, as a very high percentage of our students utilize our athletic facilities here at Strathmore High School. The weight room sees the most use due to housing our athletic programs as well as four periods of weight lifting during the week. We look forward to building on this partnership with Walmart in the future to provide more for the students of Strathmore High School.”

A core part of every athletic program's development is the weight room, and despite its' sparse and dated offerings, Strathmore's outdone themselves with what they have available.

The Spartans are the only PUSD school with a Central Section championship in football and have won three of their last six Valley titles in back-to-back years, beginning in 2016. In these last three years, they've also went to the CIF State championship, and in 2017, they went undefeated and won Tulare County's first-ever CIF State football championship.

Along with the Walmart grant, Strathmore is working with the school district and others to update their facilities.

“I want to say thank you so much to the district. Dr. Rohrbach has been nothing but a great help for us...He has been a great advocate of ours,” said SHS Booster Club member, Curtis Alkire, about PUSD's Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Brad Rohrbach.

Alkire and the SHS Booster Club are also accepting donations and checks can be made payable to “SHS Booster Club”. There are also packages available ranging from $75 to $10,000 for donors as well that including anything from advertisement spaces and announcements, to VIP parking and seating passes, to much more.

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