- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ind. (AP) - Everett N. Case brought an innovative coaching style from the high school ranks to the Atlantic Coast Conference in the mid-1940s.

The 5,509-seat domed structure that bears his name in the town where Case got his coaching start is receiving an innovative and much needed eye-appealing makeover.

When Frankfort High School began its renovation project that included bringing Case Arena up to code, two teachers took on a separate project that will tell the history of Hot Dog athletics.

“We don’t want to take the history out of Case Arena,” said Kevin Ricks, a math teacher and varsity softball coach. “We want to honor that history, but do it in a more modern way.”

To inspire ideas, Ricks and Frankfort head wrestling and track coach Richard Sallee took a trip to Indiana University’s Assembly Hall.

Like Case Arena, built in 1963, the Bloomington structure carries a lot of history. Indiana University recently renovated the arena while trying to preserve its historic feel that binds the Hoosiers’ past glory with the 21st century.

“Assembly Hall is a giant version of Case Arena,” Sallee said. “With their remodel, we got a chance to look at lot of things they were doing, removing some things but keeping the history there and adding touches with technology.”

No longer on the Case Arena concourse do you see walls filled to the max with photos of all-state athletes, many faded from the sun peering through the glass doors over many years.

Now installed are 55-inch televisions that will scroll slideshows of the Hot Dogs’ all-time greats. Others highlight Frankfort’s athletes of the month and all-conference award winners, as well as promote the athletics program’s upcoming events and where to find information on each team on social media.

Trophy cases in the entrance have been cleaned and rearranged to highlight Frankfort’s four boys basketball state championships under Case, as well as a display for the 1994 film “Blue Chips” which featured Case Arena as the home venue for the fictitious Western University Dolphins.

If anyone can appreciate the history and feel of a big-game environment in Case Arena, a recurring site for sectional, regional and semistate tournaments over the years, it is the four head coaches who call the gym home.

Volleyball coach Kia Rushton, boys basketball coach Jared Catron, girls basketball coach Joe Marsh and Sallee all are Frankfort graduates. They take pride when a visiting coach mentions how great a facility it is.

“With wrestling in Indiana being what is classified as a minor sport, some wrestling coaches compete in the auxiliary gym,” Sallee said. “When teams come to Frankfort, they want to wrestle in Case Arena. We host the sectional every other year and officials tell me this is what all high school wrestling should be like.”

Frankfort’s wrestling room also honors that program’s rich tradition, including its three state champions. Sallee is hopeful to bring that to the forefront of Case as well, honoring all the state qualifiers and athletes who won at least 100 career matches.

Ricks already is working on a project to recognize the 20 known 1,000-point scorers in basketball - 18 boys and two girls - with a display case featuring a basketball painted for each player with his or her point total, from 1997 graduate Andy Foster’s 1,612 career points to the 1,000 scored by 2016 graduate Jarrod Smith. It features two father/son combos (Ron and Travis Best, Mick and Dakota Isgrigg) and one pair of brothers (Jarrod and Christian Smith) among the history that has been uncovered with the help of former Frankfort basketball player, as well as former Crawfordsville and Frontier coach Rush McColley.

A more deliberate way to highlight Frankfort basketball’s six Indiana All-Stars also is in the works, as are ideas that feature banners on the outside that welcome fans as they walk to the front doors.

Other subtle changes such as spotlight shows for starting lineup introductions have been tossed into the brainstorming.

“We want to put on events,” Sallee said. “It’s an event, something more than just watching the teams play.”

Those are the main noticeable changes in the works from a casual fan perspective.

No longer does cold air seep in from under the bleachers after the outdated heating system was upgraded. A new sprinkler system was installed, among other things you might not initially notice.

“There weren’t doors on the men’s restrooms. Back in the day, that wasn’t a big deal, but nowadays with privacy issues, people want those types of things,” said athletic director Ed Niehaus, who coached Frankfort’s girls basketball team for 24 years. “We now have handicap accessibility from the high school to the gym, which we didn’t have before. It just makes Case Arena that much more accessible to everyone.”

The initial stages of the Case Arena renovation were showcased for the first time in a pair of home games last weekend. On Friday, the Hot Dogs host their third straight home game, facing Central Catholic as progress continues and more ideas generate that will take additional funding, such as possibly placing the original floor - currently hanging on a wall to one of the entryways to the upper level - inside the concrete as spectators enter the building, a project that would require more funds.

“From a building project standpoint, we’re working with Mr. Niehaus with what funds we do have,” Sallee said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to be a continuous process.”

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Source: (Lafayette) Journal and Courier, https://on.jconline.com/2hGAzBs

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Information from: Journal and Courier, https://www.jconline.com

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