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State-of-the-art gym at county education complex
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From left, Superintendent of Schools Mick Fontes recognizes major donors Jeff and Tevani Liotard of Mountain Mikes Pizza, Doctors Hospital Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Tejada, Susan DellOsso of River Island, and Dan Van Groningen of Van Groningen & Sons during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the San Joaquin County Office of Educations Excel Academy NCAA gym on Tuesday. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

The new National Collegiate Athletic Association gym at the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Excel Academy on Arch Road north of Manteca had plenty of local ties.

“This gym was 99 percent locally built,” said Superintendent of Schools Mick Founts at the ribbon-cutting event on Tuesday.

Local contractors from throughout San Joaquin County – they also purchased local materials and goods, Founts added – made possible this state-of-the-arts facility that houses three basketball courts, volleyball courts, and two wrestling mats.

Excel Academy, SJCOE’s collegiate sports and health science preparatory high school, is a charter school dedicated to providing academic and athletic programs for student athletes from Stockton, Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop, Tracy and Lodi.

“We firmly believe that you create places for kids to learn,” said Founts. “This (gym) is one of the best places for them to learn.”

Students will have a chance to expand their game on what’s called “a first of its kind gym floor within San Joaquin County” for tournaments, competitions and other events.

SJCOE added that this high performance, extremely resilient synthetic floor combines high level of recycle content – an example of that are the plastic water and beverage bottles consumed everyday – extremely low VOC emissions, and with the aesthetics of hardwood gym.

This surface is said to be softer than hardwood, thus, making it safe and possibly reducing injuries.

Dignitaries from state and local government along with city officials from within the county not to mention the builders who helped make the gym possible were among those in attendance at the standing-room only event.

Locally, Jeff and Tevani Liotard of Mountain Mike’s Pizza, Doctors Hospital Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Tejada, Susan Dell’Osso of River Island in Lathrop, and Dan Van Groningen of Van Groningen & Sons were also recognized for their generous contributions.

For that, Founts said that Mountain Mike’s Pizza, Doctors Hospital of Manteca, River Island and Van Groningen & Sons – all four were donors were placed on the pillar of honor located outside the facility and banners hanging high above the rafters of the gym – will have a tournament named in their honor.