Douglas County Athletics making strides in their facilities

Douglas County High School was built in 1937 (84 years ago) while the football stadium was constructed 60 years ago and has been renovated only a few times since. The Tigers are one of five GHSA teams in the Douglas County School District including Alexander, Chapel Hill, Lithia Springs and New Manchester. None of which meet “playoff requirements” according to the GHSA, forcing these schools to travel even if they are the higher seed.

“Our new superintendent [Trent North] came over from Carrollton,” said Douglas County head football coach Johnny White. “So he understands how facilities mandate things and can affect the schools holistically.”

In 2017, the Tigers were forced to go on the road again for the playoffs despite being a higher seed and that put the nail in the coffin for White and North to put a plan in place for renovations.

“I told Mr. North when he first came, not just for Douglas, but for the whole county we need a facility that can be used by any team in the county if they go on a run so they don’t have to travel,” said White. “Him [North] and the engineers hit the ground running with it. We didn’t have much say in it and they did a great job.”

The renovations to the Douglas County football stadium include an increase of seating capacity from 3,500 to 6,500 as well as major renovations to the “visitors” side including being completely replaced. The field house, locker room and weight room were completely demolished and a two-story stand alone facility was put up in that same area.

The new state-of-the-art facility includes: a 120 seat meeting room, a 120 seat locker room with USB ports, full training room with a turf field, weight room, player’s lounge, two equipment rooms, 50+ TVs, coaches offices with showers and a new scoreboard with a jumbotron. The second floor is VIP only which includes all glass sliding doors with the ability to oversee the entire field. The entry and exit are each large glass garage doors.

“It is definitely going to be one of the nicer facilities in the Metro Atlanta area,” said White. “We plan on having several 7-on-7 tournaments there and show off the new facilities.”

The renovation has taken nearly a full school year and is expected to be ready for the 2021 Fall season, thus putting the Tigers on the “road” every week last season adding to the already unfamiliarity that was COVID-19.

“It was the most difficult year I have ever coached in my life, even from a financial standpoint because our county outlawed big water coolers for the entire year. We went through roughly 800 bottles of water per week,” added White. “You compile COVID with not being able to have the familiarity of your own school all year, it’s truly a difficult thing.”

The Tigers played four “home” games, two a piece at New Manchester and Lithia Springs and four games on the road and finished the year 7-4 overall, 4-3 in the region before losing to Buford in the first round of the playoffs.

“I’m very good friends with Corey Jarvis (Lithia Springs HC) and all the other coaches in the county, so there were no issues there at all,” said White. “We have a great group of coaches over here that will root for one another unless we are playing each other.”

Friday’s were the most difficult part of the 2020 season according to coach White because his players who usually get to lie around, have team meetings and relax until the game were always hopping on a bus immediately headed to another school. All seven junior varsity games were away as well.

The Tigers were able to practice on the turf throughout the year as the renovations were outside of the field. The Douglas County School District does things differently than most according to coach White.

“Mr. North’s vision is to have each school have a big piece instead of dominating just one school,” said White.

Alexander High School is known for its massive gymnasium which was mostly renovated in 2015 and includes a second deck of seating. Chapel Hill and New Manchester are widely-known for their state of the art track and field facilities while Lithia Springs has the best weight room in the county.

According to Eric Collins, Douglas County School System Athletic Director, none of the other four schools have any current plans for additions on the athletic side.

“Athletically we are in pretty good shape and we have some things in the works for future years,” said Collins.

RA-LIN and Associates, the engineering company in charge of the renovations, most recently updated their site May 21 with a picture of the stand-alone facility. The “away” stands are nearly complete and the structure/roofing for the two-story building is finished as well.

“We hope to have the facility open by the Summer and get the kids in here before the season starts is the ultimate goal,” added Collins.

The Tigers plan on hosting teams for 7-on-7 tournaments but will open up their new facility officially on August 20 against cross-town rival Lithia Springs who they beat 47-7 in the opener last season. The Tigers will have a chance to avenge all three region losses against Paulding County (week six) and  Rome and Carrollton in the final two weeks of the regular season.



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