First crowd

The entire home side of the stands were packed with fans ready to cheer on the Lady Pirates.

Two years ago, all Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Lady Pirate volleyball teams continued to play the remainder of its season without the use of a home gym after Hurricane Harvey. Harvey destroyed their home gym, the Gold Gym. Harvey also left the Green Gym and the Rockport-Fulton Middle School gym in need of repair before they could be reopened.

The varsity team qualified for the playoffs that year and advanced to the area round without ever playing a “home” district game.

In April 2018, that same varsity team was met with surprise as they were featured on the Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen announced, with the help of Lowe’s, the school was to receive a $1 million donation to help build them a new gym.

A year and a half later, senior captains Allie Manson, Molly Frost, and Jackie Simmonds, the only three players remaining from the 2017 RFHS varsity team, got the opportunity to play their final home game of high school volleyball in the new competition gym built with the help of the $1 million donation Tuesday, Oct. 29.

RFHS Head Varsity Volleyball Coach Jessica was overwhelmed by the amount of fans and supporters that showed up to help cheer the girls on in their final home game.

“It was awesome, I didn’t expect that many people to be here because it seemed kind of last minute,” said Clark. “It was fun walking in, seeing all the people, how loud it was and all the signs; I know the girls really enjoyed it.”

The home side of the gym was completely full with fans cheering on the Lady Pirates and thanking the Ellen Degeneres Show. Ellen Show producers were present during and before the game. The producers conducted interviews with the Lady Pirates before the game and recorded fan reactions and parent night festivities during the game. Representatives with Teal Construction were also present at the game.

The opening of the competition gym Tuesday was considered a soft opening. Aransas County Independent School District (ACISD) Director of Operational Services Norm Spears said the gym is 90% completed.

“There are some things we need to do with the doors. The automatic flushers on the toilet aren’t working yet and there’s a few things in the concession stand we don’t have set up yet,” said Spears. “In the gym itself, it’s mostly done.”

The grand opening of the gym will not take place until the first varsity home basketball game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. The new parking lot adjacent to the gym will also be complete by that date.

ACISD Superintendent Joseph Patek said they planned to have the varsity volleyball team play at least one home game before the season ended. They were able to meet that goal with Teal Construction working as hard as they could to get it done.

“They worked seven days a week for the last couple months to get this gym ready for the Lady Pirates,” said Patek.

The Lady Pirates ended up defeating the West Oso Lady Bears in three sets. See Sports for more information.

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