KINGS POINT, N.Y., January 13, 2018 – On Saturday, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Superintendent, Rear Admiral James Helis, USMMA Alumni Association and Foundation (AAF) President, Jim Tobin '77 and Director of Physical Education and Athletics, Mo White, along with special guests; Maritime Administrator, Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, (USN Ret.) '79), AAF Chairman of the Board, John Artzen '79 and Paul Buhse of the USMMA Department of Public Works, celebrated the completion of the newly-renovated gym floor at the Liebertz Gymnasium in O'Hara Hall with a special ribbon cutting ceremony.
The ceremony took place in between games of the basketball doubleheader and also included the coaches and captains of the four teams that compete in the gym – women's basketball, men's basketball, women's volleyball and wrestling.
The new gym floor was completely paid for by a donation to the Academy by the AAF, funded by those who donated to the AAF in the "Area of Greatest Need" category.
"We are very grateful to the USMMA AAF for their generosity in funding this important project," commented Helis. "The renovation of the floor greatly improves the quality of Liebertz Gymnasium as a competitive venue for our teams and for recreation for all Midshipmen. This project is also a highly visible reminder of the remarkable support the USMMA AAF provides the Academy year in and year out."
The entire Academy community benefits from the new renovations, which are the first of its kind to the Liebertz Gym floor. The Liebertz Gymnasium is a multi-use facility not just for the athletic teams, who use the gym for competitions and practices, but for the entire Regiment of Midshipmen as well as the Regimental Band, which performs numerous productions inside the gym, including the annual Beat Retreat.
"We all know how special Liebertz Gymnasium is to the Academy," said Jim Tobin '77, AAF President. "We are proud to fund this much needed project and thank our alumni, parents, and friends for making considerable projects like this one possible."
The design of the new gym floor was chosen by a collaborative committee made up of Midshipmen, staff and faculty. It features a new, brighter look to the gym floor and boasts both anchor and propeller designs, which represents the two areas of study that a Mid is a part of at the Academy – deck (anchor) or engine (propeller). The NCAA logo is also emblazoned on the court, celebrating the Academy's membership in NCAA Division III.
In the middle of all of this, at center court is the new USMMA Athletics wordmark, featuring a sleek design of the Academy's acronym with a star on each end. Those two stars have multiple representations: the stars on our nation's flag – which inspires feelings of patriotism, the two areas of study at the Academy – deck and engine, and finally the stars that are seen in the night sky by our merchant mariners around the world.
"I am incredibly grateful to the USMMA AAF and donors for funding the restoration of the Liebertz Gymnasium floor," commented White. "As we stripped away the layers and layers of varnish, the beauty of this historic floor re-emerged and will be a source of pride for Midshipmen for years to come. Your generosity gives our student athletes the best possible experience as they pursue excellence both on and off the court."