Debate over ‘neglected’ athletic facilities at Horry County schools

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Several groups of people are weighing in on the safety and condition of the athletic facilities at multiple Horry County schools.

Parents, coaches, and school board members have spoken up about which facilities they think need immediate attention.

On Monday, News13 reported the school district may spend $1 million to upgrade a field at North Myrtle Beach Middle School.

During the discussion about the field, board member Pam Timms, who represents Carolina Forest, Socastee and St. James, said the needs are county-wide.

“It’s not only your district, it’s in my district,” she claimed. “So I think we all need to look at what our needs are and not our wants.”

A few weeks ago, parents and members of the Socastee High School Athletic Association spent nearly 20 minutes explaining to the school board why their facilities need upgrades.

“There’s an urgent need to improve all of our spring sports facilities,” said member, Shannon Murphy. “These need to be done with expediency because it will also help with our needs for space, safety and of course, the parking issues and all of these need your immediate attention.”

Murphy went on to explain that the facilities have become “unsafe and neglected” over the past several years.

“Time and negligence continue to show the needs of our students are definitely not being provided,” she added.

Down the road at St. James High School, football coach, Joey Price, is joining the conversation. He said the school needs a bigger weight room for not only athletes, but all students who utilize the athletic resource. He implied that winning teams have better facilities.

“It’s really, really small compared to what most people have,” said Price. “All of the programs that are winning in this state, Myrtle Beach, Carolina Forest, have a huge weight room.”

Price said only about 20 students can fit in the weight room at one time. However, he’s been told the district may not be able to help.

“We’ve been told that the money may have to come from the community to build a weight room even though it’s a classroom,” he added. The weight room is used for weight lifting classes throughout the day and all sports teams use it as well.

When Price heard about the $1 million upgrade in North Myrtle Beach, it didn’t sit easy with him.

“It’s hard to watch as a coach who cares about his kids, who thinks, ‘Why don’t we have the opportunity?’” he questioned.

The district is currently prioritizing a list of projects in its “Five Year Plan” and athletic facilities will be included. An assessment was done of all high schools in 2016 to rate fields, stadiums and other facilities. You can see how each school ranked here.