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Williams High School beefs up athletic facilities security; hires weight room staff

Xavier Shepherd works out in the Williams High School weight room. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

Xavier Shepherd works out in the Williams High School weight room. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — In an effort to improve security and student safety, the Williams Unified School District Governing Board approved part-time staffing for the Williams High School weight room at its Jan. 22 meeting.

The high school received new equipment and newer secure door locks in 2019, but school administrators felt that dedicated staffing was still needed.

“We want to decrease the liability with that whole area,” said Williams High School Principal Eric Evans. “The bleachers, the parking lot and of course the weight room itself.”

Evans said the governing board had previously approved money to provide after-school staffing at the weight room, and he interviewed five people for the position.

“It was an in-house posting for extra stipend work after the school day is over,” Evans said.

Following the interviews, Evans came to the board with a recommendation.

“I came to the board with two options, and then followed up with a recommendation,” he said.

The board considered Lucas Zabala, a personal trainer who is well known for his work in the community, or teachers Ryan Ward and Jeff Brownlee. The board decided to have Ward and Brownlee split the position for the remainder of the school year.

“Lucas Zabala brings a lot to the table that some of our current employees can’t provide,” Evans said. “This includes nutritional advice, rehabilitation exercises and more. But it also came with a dollar amount that was beyond what had already been approved for the position.”

Evans said Ward and Brownlee will split their time in the weight room to adjust for their additional duties as coaches for football and basketball. He said the board decision will remain through the school year and be revisited this fall.

The dedicated staffing of the weight room is part of the district’s plan to improve security and the safety of the students outside of the school. The school is currently in the process of upgrading and adding more security cameras in the parking lot, athletic fields and bleacher areas of the school property.

“As long as we have supervision, then the weight room could be open,” Evans said. “We don’t want to just prop open the door and let anybody in there. We are going to try to tighten up our logistics — signing in, checking IDS and keeping a log book.”

Evans said the school is also hoping to increase usage of the weight room facility, which received several newer pieces of equipment over the past few years.

“(We want) to take advantage of our existing facility, and the board and I would like to see someone in there who can show proper technique, reduce injuries and decrease liability.”

Evans said the school is also always looking for additional opportunities for students.

“The more opportunities we can provide kids the better,” he said. “It keeps them out of trouble, helps with focus and discipline. If they aren’t a jock or athlete they can go in and tone up or lose weight and feel better about themselves. There are a whole gauntlet of reasons why having a good functioning safe weight room is important.”

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