GARY, Ind. (WLS) -- Tuesday a completely refurbished track was revealed at Gary's West Side Leadership Academy, part of a larger plan to renovate the school's athletic facilities for both student and community use.
"They deserve a good place to come out, and walk, and exercise," said Robert Lee, athletic director.
Having fallen into disrepair years ago, students have been unable to train or even compete on school grounds until now. Track and field athletes have been forced to use hallway and school parking lots for practice, but that will no longer be the case.
"I won't be hurting myself and tripping over potholes, "said Ariana Robinson, track and field athlete.
"I just hope that being that we have a new environment we'll have more people come out, more students, more college coaches to watch us," said Quincy Williams, track and field athlete.
"People can come see us now. We have the right equipment to practice on now," said Chenzye Deberry, track and field athlete.
Funding for the project comes from an Indiana bill that allows Gary's Community School Corporation to defer up to $25 million in loan repayments to finance much needed building and ground repairs. Longtime girls track coach Veronica Wiliams has seen it all here throughout the years, even watching the boy's team with a state championship in 2014 without a track of their own.
"When I came out today, I did that victory lap, I had tears in my eyes because people say, 'What about Gary?'" she said. "Well, what about it? It's not how you drive, as long as you arrive."
And they're not done yet. New turf for the football team, a renovated swimming pool and tennis courts are next on the list at West Side Leadership Academy.
Gary West Side Leadership Academy gets new track for first time in years