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Over the past 50 years Central Community College - Columbus has had its share of successful teams come and go at the Raider Fieldhouse.

The 1972-73 basketball team won the Region IX championship and made the NJCAA National Tournament, the 1975 volleyball team finished 12th in the NJCAA national tournament and the 2005 volleyball team made the final eight in the NJCAA national tournament.

All of these teams spent their sweat, their practice time and the highs and lows of competition on the same hardwood floor.

Over the past few weeks, that original floor, along with its memories and moments, was torn up in favor of the first new floor at Central since Richard Nixon was in his first term as president.

The update follows what kind be considered a makeover of sorts for the college. Over the past few months, Central has hired a new interim athletic director, new men's basketball coach, new volleyball coach, new softball coach and new women's soccer coach.

A new floor is the latest in what is shaping up as a new era at Central.

"We are really looking forward to the new surface," said interim athletic director Mary Young. "It's going to be beautiful. It's going to be an impressive addition to an already nice facility."

A new floor is part of a series of updates to the fieldhouse following new lights and new bleachers in recent years.

"The truth is there was kind of some things that we just had to do," said Central Campus President Kathy Fuchser. "You know how facilities age, it was time. Kind of our strategic plan to do some updates. The good news is we've been able to update lights, and then as you know we have the bleachers that were updated.

"After 50 years it was time to update our floor. That's kind of where we’re at. There's a few things left, but we're moving along with our progress, and this should be done in time for the fall season."

The new floor, constructed with northern hard maple standard strip flooring with 1 and 1/2 inch tongue and groove construction will receive a clear coating with stained accents. Raider Rex, the school's mascot, will be emblazoned at center court.

The full cost of the project is $170,000.

Renovations started in early May after the commencement ceremony. Central  hopes to be done with construction by July with the hopes that another 50 years will follow.

"We had planned ahead, and this was just the next project," Fuchser said. "We're like any other company. We plan budget years. We knew it was something that had to be taken care of, but we had to wait until after commencement."

While the floor will be ready for Central's next athletic season, the project forced CCC to make some changes to its regular summer programming.

Both the volleyball and basketball All-Star games were moved to Columbus High School, and some of the summer camps that Central puts on were moved to July as opposed to the typical June time frame.

"It's not as bad as I had originally thought," Young said. "We knew that they were going to be doing the gym floor, and I kind of wondered how long it would take and will that take away from student time and student access.

"We started the process right after our graduation when typically we have fewer students on campus in the summer month. Plus, all of our athletic competitions are complete for the year."

Young said that Columbus High was a big part in easing the hurdles that construction caused.

"We were very fortunate that all of our high schools work so well together and helping one another out in these situations," she said. "We're just very fortunate that we have those types of relationships and partnerships that we can help each other out and we don't skip a beat and we can still proceed with our scheduled events."

Many of the teams that will be playing on the new gym floor for the first time will be led by brand new head coaches.

After Young became the new interim athletic director, Abby Pollart was named the new volleyball coach replacing young.

John Ritzdorf was brought in from his assistants role at Nebraska-Kearney replacing Jerry Drymon.

Other new coaches include Jaime Bennett, who will lead the first-ever Central women's soccer team, and Caitlin Simon taking over softball for Jack Guiterrez.

Gutierrez served the school for 39 years, 27 as athletic director and the last 12 as the first softball coach in school history.

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com 

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