Jewish Academy finally gets its home games

State-of-the-art gymnasium unveiled

In the eight years that the San Diego Jewish Academy has been in Carmel Valley, there has been no home court advantage for its volleyball and basketball teams. They were teams on an extended road trip, with all games and practices held at Alliant University in Scripps Ranch.

Now, with the opening of the on-campus gym and training facility, being the host team no longer means a drive down the freeway.

At a high school where there are 190 students and 100 of them are athletes, the new gym makes for one pumped-up campus, said Athletic Director Charlie Wund.

“It has become the heart of the athletic programs, it really gives them a place to be athletes,” said Wund, who also serves as the boy’s baseball coach. " Personally for me, winning it not that important at the high school level, it’s more about learning through sports. I feel very strongly about values you can get from sports, working with a team toward a common goal.”

The school broke ground last year on the 35,000-square-foot facility featuring a gym that can accommodate two basketball courts and three volleyball courts. The glossy floors bear the Lions logo and SDJA is spelled out on the pulled-up bleachers. When pulled out, the bleachers can seat 750 fans.

The facility also includes a fully stocked weight room and upstairs, a generous music room with six soundproof practice studios. The rest of the upstairs space is rented out by Ken Jewish Community, which helped raised funds for the building.

Having a place to call home gives sports more visibility and makes it more accessible for students, Wund said, and it’s made more students want to be a part of and experience the gym.

“Just with volleyball alone there’s been a complete 180 effect,” he said. “We’ve never had this many girls in the program before.”

For the first time, the school has filled three volleyball squads of novice, JV and varsity players.

At the Aug. 3 opening ceremony, those volleyball teams played in an intra-squad match before a large crowd of academy families, donors and alumni.

“This magnificent building has launched SDJA into a new era for our athletic program, campus and school community,” said Jonathon Collopy, president of the Lions Athletic Booster Club.

More than just for the high school athletes, Academy students in the lower kindergarten through fifth grade will use the gym facilities for PE. Sixth-grade students participate in intramural league coached by high school students in a leadership class and the middle school plays in a competitive league against other schools.

The complex also means a huge step up for teams’ strength training regiment, which used to take place in a small trailer. Tyler Bell, the school’s strength and conditioning coach, said the new facility offers a much safer and effective way to train.

“I think this is going to be a great opportunity to see what the athletic program is capable of,” Bell said.