Downtown

Jordan Brand donates new gym floor to Westinghouse High School

February 12, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Westinghouse varsity basketball team and coaches no longer have to play on the “wrestling mat” which is good timing as the PSAL playoffs begin next week. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese

Say goodbye to the wrestling mat.

For the last eight years, the basketball court at Westinghouse High School has been the butt of many jokes, but those days are over as Jordan Brand donated a new hardwood floor to the Downtown Brooklyn school.

“This is a blessing because it’s been a process,” said Everett Kelley, the head coach of the varsity boys basketball team. “I’ve been trying to get this floor re-done for about seven or eight years. Jordan Brand stepped in, and it didn’t take long. We build the relationship in September, and it’s been continuing to grow.”

On Wednesday, Jordan Brand held a press conference on the new court which was attended by Vice President of Jordan Brand Howard White, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia and DJ Envy, from the syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club.”

Westinghouse is located on Tillary Street in Downtown Brooklyn right next to MetroTech. As the MetroTech Center was being built about two decades ago, the school experienced flooding during heavy rains, which in turn ruined its old wooden floors. Out of necessity, the school installed a plastic-tiled blue floor.

The blue floor was slippery — which led to concerns of injuries — and it often caused a basketball to take odd hops. As a result, it was often mocked, called a wrestling mat or bathroom tiles, and many visiting and prospective student-athletes did not want to play there. Coach Kelley hopes the new floor will elevate the school’s basketball program.

“At one point, we found out that it would cost $200,000 to $250,000 for a new floor, and there was going to be no way that we could pay for that,” Kelley said. “Jordan Brand paid for everything, and this is going to be for so much more than just basketball. This also helps the volleyball team, gym classes and the JV team. It means so much to us and that’s why we’re so grateful for Jordan Brand’s support.”

Kelley credited Anton Marchand, the CEO and president of the Conrad McRae Youth League, for being the catalyst in getting the new floor. He said Marchand helped him build the relationship with Jordan Brand. Initially, Kelley just wanted jerseys, but once Jordan Brand found out about the situation with the blue floor, it quickly helped out.

Principal Janine Kieran gave a special thanks to Kelley during the ceremony.

“It’s fitting that coach Kelly entered into this partnership with Jordan Brand because, like Jordan Brand, coach Kelly recognizes the needs of students first,” Kieran said. “He recognizes that the true goal of working with student-athletes is to promote good sportsmanship, character development and scholastic achievement. This is what brings about real champions.”