Italy — Under the guidance of AD/Head football coach Hank Hollywood and with the assistance of the Italy School Board and the Gladiator Athletic Boosters, his entire coaching staff and the Italy ISD Maintenance Department including Speed Hamby, Larry Mayberry, who serves as a coach as well, Bobby McBride, Lynn Lambert and Michael Chambers, who will also be on the coaching staff again this season, Italy Athletics has undergone several physical renovations.
Perhaps the most important transformation has been instituting a new mindset into the players themselves. With a fast-paced approach to the workout programs, the Gladiator Football team and the Lady Gladiator Volleyball teams have been setting the new gold standard at Italy High School. Participation numbers are up and the list of goals is rising fast.
Promoting that eagerness to get the party started and to take full advantage of that moment when Sunday turns to Monday, with Monday being the first official day of the summer that Texas high school athletic programs could begin practices under coach supervision as sanctioned by the UIL, Italy Athletics hosted Midnight Madness on Sunday, August 5, at 8:00 p.m. Guests enjoyed a Watermelon Social and then toured an open field house, a new athletic lounge and later had the pleasure of sitting on new metal bleachers on the home side. Inside George E. Scott Coliseum, or the old gym, the girls weight room was upgraded along with the junior high girls locker area. A roomier junior high boys locker room with metal lockers was also a major part of the athletic upgrades.
The Jimmy Davis Memorial Field House, the heart of the Gladiator empire, has a completely remodeled interior. The weight room has been extended and a pair of rollup doors have been installed, with the help of Donald Chambers and the Italy ISD maintenance crew, to provide airflow to what had been an uninviting workout situation for players. Metal lockers have been installed in both JV and Varsity locker rooms for extra protection against staff infection. Pictures of Italy’s All-State Football Players and their memorable teams circle the upper wall space creating a ring-of-honor around the lockers area. Offices, storage and medical areas have been made more accommodating, as well.
“I wanted the accomplishments of past players and teams to be more visible to our athletes. The pictures are there to inspire and encourage our current Gladiators to become All-State caliber players and to continue playing at a championship level. Italy has a great tradition and we plan to keep adding to it,” explained Coach Hollywood.
After everyone had their fill of watermelon, at 10:00 p.m. a movie screen was setup under the goal posts while blankets and lawn chairs created an outdoor movie theater. Fans watched the movie Unnecessary Roughness as midnight quickly began to approach.
The Lady Gladiator Volleyball players got their practice faces and headed to the domed coliseum to began their first official practice under first year head volleyball coach, Jessika Robinson and assistants Tina Richards and Lindsey Coffman.
At the stroke of midnight, the Gladiator Football squad cleated up and buckled up their head gears, and then exited the field house, hustled thru the Italy Gladiator “We Believe” air tunnel and onto historic Willis Field, simultaneously, with the Ladies who stormed the floor of the dome. As their opponents slept comfortably in their beds, perhaps, dreaming about being this year’s champs, the Lady Gladiators and Gladiators were hard at work ensuring they’ll be a nightmare of a challenge for their district foes.
Coach Hollywood commented, “We’re just ready. We didn’t won’t to wait any longer than we had to getting started. It sends a message of urgency to our athletes and I appreciate the fans and parents for supporting the kids.”
After both groups finished their early morning workouts, everyone migrated to the Italy High School Cafeteria for a 2:00 a.m. Pancake Breakfast including pancakes, sausage and bacon. It was delicious!
It was a great time for Italy Athletics and fans. The revamped facilities are looking great with more improvements still ongoing. Keep up the hard work coaches and players! — TPW