Booms could be heard throughout the building.
In the cinema room inside William Blount’s newly refurbished country house, the sounds of a film playing on the mounted screen shot through the structure, illustrating the power of the entertainment system. But most of the time, the room and the whole building will not be used for entertainment.
The clubhouse, located to the right of William Blount Stadium and once used by the school’s soccer program, will now be occupied primarily by its boys’ and girls’ soccer programs. It has been renovated for the task, with new features including the cinema room, an area where players can eat pre-game meals and more.
The renovations were funded by Rick Helwig, a Louisville resident who owns DNR Construction, an Illinois-based construction and weatherization services company. Helwig told The Daily Times that one of her sons has been dating William Blount and her youngest is expected to go as well.
“They’re both football players,” Helwig said. “I wanted to do something good for the football team. This new coach (Bill Baker) is here, and I just wanted to give the kids a better opportunity to be competitive.
Ledbetter Electronics, a Maryville-based company run by William Blount boys’ football coach Bill Baker, donated electronics for the project, and Brannan Gillenwater of Gillenwater Flooring & Kitchen Gallery, also based in Maryville, donated electronics. donates rugs, Helwig said.
Features include weight, movie theaters
Almost every section of the country house has been or will be renovated to suit its new purpose.
There is now a ‘football room’ with lockers where players can put their belongings and tables for them to have their pre-game meals. The area was previously only occupied by offices.
On the right, a weight room specifically for soccer is being assembled. It should include a custom rack for free weights, Baker said, as well as a desk.
The cinema room has five rows of chairs and seats 50 people. It will be used by both soccer and soccer programs to watch and analyze match movies. The training hall inside the stadium has also been renovated, and new training tables, a sofa for the players and new signage for the stadium are also expected, according to Baker.
Helwig said he also bought new football goals and uniforms and spent time himself working at the facility “seven days a week”. He said he spent about $80,000 to $90,000 in total on William Blount’s football.
“I tried to do this for years,” Helwig said. “Right now we have the right coach and the right people in place. Working with (athletic director) Scott (Cupp) and coach (Robert) Reeves and Bill Baker and coach Drew (Ownby) we were able to achieve what I needed to be achieved.
“It helps bring excitement to the program,” added Baker. “Children see this and they know that we are invested in them. We do these things to get things to them, so they feel like some kind of first-class program. I know they are happy to come to the stadium every day and have a place to relax before and after training.
“We’re just trying to show these kids that we’re invested in them and in this program. So maybe we can invest more kids in us, get more kids to start trials every year, and that goes for women’s and men’s football. I can’t imagine kids not wanting to be part of it if they can play.
“It’s not something you encounter every day”
Talks about renovating the pavilion began after William Blount began work on his new football pitch, which the school hopes will be completed by July, athletic director Scott Cupp said. The old country house, which was mainly used for coaching offices and training, was built by the parents of the football program and has been in use since the early 2000s.
“So football (representatives) offered me to make it their dressing room,” Cupp said. “And they came to me later (wanting) to add a movie theater / theater room. I said, ‘Of course.’ So, with the support of Rick Helwig and DNR Construction, it didn’t cost us a penny, which is obviously key.
Renovations began in February, and Cupp said Helwig even immediately gave William Blount $12,500, which will be used to furnish the new football pitch.
“I know it’s not cheap, and it’s certainly not something you encounter every day that you have a person who is willing to not only sacrifice a lot of money, but also a lot of time” , said Cupp.
Cupp doesn’t believe William Blount’s football programs ever had a real locker room. With the boys’ soccer team already showing tremendous growth on the field in Baker’s first season, Cupp is excited about the future of the sport in William Blount.
“I can’t thank Rick Helwig and DNR enough,” Cupp said. “I know Rick was planning to help out as much as he could over the next few years, so I’m thrilled with our partnership.”
“When you have people who can help you,” he added, “it just makes it nicer and easier for schools to do things for kids.”
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