AURORA — When a project to upgrade Aurora Central's heating system meant the gym floor would need to be replaced, athletic director Rod Harrison saw a great opportunity ahead.
"Everyone in the community comes to the gym," Harrison said on Thursday. "We wanted them to talk about our gym. We had a chance here to make a statement."
Harrison designed the floor with one main concept in mind: The base color for the entire floor would be black. He drew inspiration from the court at Oakland University in Michigan, even going so far as emailing coach Greg Kampe for his thoughts on the design.
"I was like, 'Man, we've got to do this. The kids will think this is sweet,'" Harrison said.
And though it took some convincing — he had help from former district athletic director Mike Krueger, and principal Gerardo De La Garza — the school agreed to move forward with the plan.
The plan included staining the court black instead of overlaying paint. It also included small details like using a dark grey as the lines for secondary courts that go across the main court, so that they wouldn't distract from the overall look. Instead of a solid stripe across midcourt, there's a subtle cutout which reveals a line — this leaves the "AC" logo uninterrupted.
"We chose it and here it is," Harrison said.
Construction on the heating project started in May, and the floor was used for the first time by the girls volleyball team at practice this week.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive.
"The girls volleyball team, they were waiting in line to come to practice," Harrison said. "How often does that happen? It was really cool."
On social media, Harrison's tweet announcing the renovation blew up. A photo posted on the school's alumni Facebook group has been viewed more than 20,000 times.
But most important to Harrison?
"The kids love it," he said. "I mean, that's what it is about for me: What do the kids think?"