The Armwood High School football team is going from the outhouse to the penthouse.
That was the phrase longtime Hawks coach Sean Callahan used when describing his team's move from the cramped quarters inside the school to its new 11,430-square-foot athletic facility.
The doors to the new facility, which will be known as the Sean Callahan Athletic Complex, were officially opened during a small ceremony Tuesday evening that was attended by roughly 40 people that included school administrators, coaches and current and former players.
The complex was part of a $1.8 million renovation project that included a new freshman wing at Armwood. More than $600,000 was raised by the Armwood High Booster Club through the Hawks Nest Capital Campaign.
"The Sean Callahan Athletic Complex is the greatest complex in Florida as of tonight," said Bill McBride, who, along with Harold Hickman, served an integral role in raising money for the project. McBride's son played for the Hawks, and Hickman has had two grandson's play for the program.
The thought of a new athletic facility surfaced shortly after Callahan, coming off leading Armwood to consecutive Class 4A state titles in 2003 and 2004, was being courted to become the new head football coach at Georgia's Valdosta High. The out-of-state program offered considerable upgrades in pay and facilities to what Callahan had at Armwood.
Callahan was one of four finalists for the coaching position, but did not get the job. However, to ensure that Callahan would not be swayed by another offer later, the booster club set the wheels in motion to give Callahan what he felt was essential for a program that was building into a state powerhouse - a better facility.
In April 2006, the Hawks Nest Capital Campaign was spawned. The school's booster club met its quota about one year later, thanks in part to a $250,000 donation from local businessman John Stanton. Now, it's a reality.
"I'm blown away," longtime Hawks assistant Chris Taylor said. "I can't believe it."
The complex includes, among other things, a 1,664-square-foot weight room, a 1,072-square-foot room designated for the school's cheerleaders, two 1,800-square-foot locker rooms, a trainer's room and meeting rooms for both the offense and the defense.
"I think it's awesome," longtime Hawks assistant Matt Thompson said earlier this week. "Living like we've been living and working with what we've been working with and then getting all this stuff, I hope we don't go soft."
Armwood senior Angelo Hadley was very surprised at how nice the complex was when Callahan took him and a few players on a short tour on Monday.
"It was way better than I thought it would be," Hadley said. "I feel great about having it."
The building remained mostly empty Tuesday evening, except for the student desks that have been moved into the team's meeting rooms. It won't stay that way for long, though. The brand new weight equipment is scheduled to arrive later this week, and the Hawks are planning to move everything else in a timely manner.
"I like where we're at," Callahan said.
Keyword: Preps to view a video tour of