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June 19, 2021

Gilroy breaks ground on new facility

After five years of working out at South Valley Middle School, Gilroy will finally have a place to call their own
The Gilroy High wrestlers looked on in awe Wednesday at their new room — even though it’s just a bare shell with concrete walls and wood framing.
It was the first time that the wrestlers had seen the space, all 2,500-square feet of it.
It’s a far cry from the tiny space they currently use at South Valley Middle School. The team has held practice there for the past five years and are looking forward to finally having a place they can call home.
“It’s pretty cool to have a home on campus now instead of going to a middle school for training,” junior wrestler Victor Olmas said. “Now we actually get our own little spot on campus instead of driving 15 minutes to practice anymore — no more concrete walls.”
The space — dubbed the Athletics Facility — will also be used by the cheerleading and gymnastics teams. The wrestlers, cheerleaders and gymnasts attended several school board meetings pleading for a space to call their own.
“When we tried to get this room we went to the board even though most of us were cutting weight,” junior wrestler Lupe Jimenez said. “That didn’t stop us. We really wanted the room. We made an effort to show up to the board meetings. It feels good now that they’re actually completing the space.”
Teammate Paul Fox agreed, saying the space has been a long time coming, but it will be worth it.
“I’m excited. The place we’re at right now isn’t a very nice facility — it’s for middle schoolers. It’s nice to have something of our own. It’s a big improvement over what we had,” he said.
The space, located in the M building, used to be six different classrooms, divided by collapsible walls. In order to keep costs down, Principal Marco Sanchez said it was crucial the school find a space they could re-purpose into the Athletics Facility.
“In this current site, it’s been 30-plus years of the program not having a dedicated wrestling facility,” Sanchez said. “Given their achievements, it’s about time (they got a space).
“A new build would be $1 million dollars — which is well out of the budget. The next step was to identify an existing structure and then renovate it. So we looked around and said ‘Where can we find that?’ and it was right under our nose the whole time.”
The room is looking to be completed the first week of August, but given the current progress, it may wrap up sooner. In it’s completion, it will feature an office for wrestling coach Greg Varela, floor mats, three matted walls, chin and pull-up bars and a mirrored wall.
Construction began in Mid-May and Varela, who is in his 12th year as coach, said that his vision is finally taking shape.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “When I first came in, the walls were still making up the different classrooms. Seeing it like this, it’s all really starting to come together.”
The Mustangs have been active in the community, showing support for the local organizations like the South Valley Swim Team. Junior wrestler Nikko Villarreal said he believes this played a big part in finally getting a space of their own.
“Besides being wrestlers, we’re always out there trying to help out the Gilroy community,” he said. “I guess showing face just really opened up their (the school board’s) eyes and showed that the wrestling team is important.”
The sense of pride Varela and his team feel at what they’ve accomplished is indescribable he said. Now when other teams come to visit during the Mid Cal tournament, they will finally have a space that represents their storied program.
“This is it,” Varela said. “We’re never going to have to look for anything else. It’s a great time to be a Mustang.”
The Mustangs have a storied history of wrestling success. They have had seven individual California Interscholastic Federation Champions — including two in 2012. 
Gilroy has also claimed 56 individual Central Coast Section crowns. This includes four athletes who accomplished this feat four times. As a team, they have won the CCS title 14 times. 

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