BERLIN - The âBâ gymnasium at Berlin High School will be named after late wrestling coach Jim Day, thanks to physical education teacher Jim Arnold.
Around 1,000 people, both students and former wrestlers for Day, signed a petition started by Arnold to rename the gym, which is the auxiliary gym used for wrestling.
Day died in February in his 36th season as wrestling coach. He was a member of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and, at one point, was the schoolâs athletic director.
He also led the drive to establish the Berlin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008, and began wrestling tournaments at the high school and summer camps.
âYou know how some people say, a âmanâs manâ,â said Arnold. â(Day) was a coachâs coach.â
Arnold also, as Day was being mourned, said he was a very humble and intelligent man.
âHeâs been instrumental in coaching and teaching,â said Arnold.
Arnold said Day helped him get his first job as an assistant wrestling coach at Berlin High in the early 1990s.
Day later likely put in a good word for Arnold, who had left BHS and worked at other Connecticut schools before ending up as Wethersfield wrestling coach - where he is now - when Arnold applied for a job as a phys ed teacher at Berlin High, Arnold said.
The high school previously had a separate wrestling room, but that was replaced with a weight room as part of the recent high school renovation, said Superintendent Brian Benigni.
âI think by the petition thereâs a lot of support from the community, and beyond the community too,â said Benigni at a Board of Education meeting last month, where the idea was introduced to the board and unanimously approved.
School board President Matt Tencza said, during the meeting, considering discussion on next yearâs budget facing cuts, he would like to know how much it would cost to paint the gym floor, compared to other ways to honor Day.
The fact that the gymnasium at the high school had just been redone was another reason for the inquiry, said Tencza.
âI hate to be that way,â he said.
Members of the wrestling community and town came out in âdrovesâ for Dayâs funeral and to support wrestling, said Evelisa Mayette, president of the districtâs teachers union, during the meeting. She said fundraising for the honor shouldnât be a problem.
No other board members had any concerns over the renaming. Arnold said painting the floor and/or purchasing and displaying a plaque are being considered.
Arnoldâs first match as Wethersfield wrestling coach came against Day, Arnold said. He lost 60-3.
âIt was a quick wake-up call,â said Arnold.
Benigni said, after discussing the idea with Athletic Director Jeff Mauri, that Dayâs honor would be unveiled during the first home wrestling match of next season, against Wethersfield, next winter.
âItâs kind of a full-circle thing,â said Arnold.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or email@example.com.