An old storage facility behind Providence Christian Academy has transformed into one of the area’s top high school sports performance centers.
The brand-new WIN Center, dedicated with an Aug. 20 ceremony before the Storm’s season-opening football game, is a 12,500-square foot venue full of weights, workout equipment and artificial turf for athletes at the Lilburn private school.
“It’s just fantastic,” Providence athletic director Brad Williams said. “We think it’s one of the finest facilities in the state of Georgia.”
Like the origins of the academy itself — in large part a former shopping center redeveloped into a school — the WIN Center grew from something unexpected, a part-indoor, part-outdoor storage facility that was repurposed. The building held a variety of older things accumulated over the years, from drama props to school desks, and it found new life as a fully indoor athletic home for Storm athletes.
With 4,500 square feet of weights and training equipment, along with the rest of the space covered with red and blue turf for indoor workouts, it is a major upgrade from the small weight room used by the school since it opened in 1991.
Athletes began using the facility in July, when Providence also hired its first director of sports performance, Sean West. West, in addition to a background in kinesiology, has coached college baseball at Oglethorpe, Emory and Texas at Dallas and has coached pro baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
“Our teams are just loving it,” Williams said. “The amount of kids putting in work now just because they love going there is great to see. … We really wanted the kids to focus on how they can be better versions of themselves, getting bigger, stronger and faster.”
WIN is an acronym for “What’s Important Now,” which began as a working title in the early stages of the project and stuck as a permanent name. As with many projects at Providence, there wasn’t one large donation to cover the new facility.
“We raised it. It was really a lot of people, it wasn’t just one or two people with big donations,” Williams said. “A lot of people helped with what they could.”
As Williams noted, that type of fundraising isn’t the quickest path to campus improvements or additions. But it is satisfying, and the community has made it work on a number of projects over the past seven years.
“It’s all God,” Williams said of the athletic improvements on campus. “We don’t have these multi-million dollar donors drop a check. You’ve just got to grind and pray and ask folks and do what we can. Somehow we find a way to do it. We don’t like to carry debt. The (Lamar) Lussi (Athletic Complex), there’s no debt on that. There’s no debt on the sports performance center.”
Providence’s expansion includes the Lamar Lussi Athletic Complex, named after a longtime, beloved staff member, that features a new football stadium with artificial turf. The baseball field has been upgraded with lights and landscaping — for years Providence could only play day games — and lights for the soccer field are in the works. Locker room upgrades are planned for both of those sports. The school now has tennis courts after a quarter century of playing matches at a local neighborhood.
The main gym, home to basketball and volleyball teams, is finishing up a major upgrade with a new floor, new video board and new bleachers, among other enhancements.