GARY | The floor is not just spanking new, but its multi-shaded boards almost make it sparkle.
"This is an $80,000 floor," Rose Marie Joiner said of the surface recently installed in the main gym of the John Will Anderson Boys and Girls Club — formerly Tolleston Middle School.
"We're going to add scoreboards on each end," said Joiner, the senior director at the club, "then we're going to see about improving the bleachers."
The Boys and Girls Club officially opened to the public on Nov. 19 after moving from its former 5th Avenue site in Gary.
"This give us more space to serve the community," Joiner said. "Plus, we have more greenery around the place to use for outdoor activities. We didn't have that before."
The club's new building had remained dormant since Tolleston closed its doors in 2008.
The new floor will be broken in when the club hosts the inaugural Northwest Indiana Basketball Challenge on Dec. 7.
The varsity and junior varsity showcase will feature boys and girls teams from Indiana and Illinois. Scheduled are four varsity boys games, four varsity girls games, seven junior varsity boys games and one junior varsity girls games.
The tournament was put together by Deon Tolliver and his recently launched DT Sports Group, LLC.
"This is something I've always wanted to do ... to have a showcase featuring Indiana and Illinois teams who normally don't have a chance to face each other," said Tolliver, who is the athletic director at Seton Academy. "I have a lot of connections with schools and coaches, so I didn't have much trouble finding teams willing to play in this."
However, Tolliver was pressed to find a site. During a correspondence with Joiner, the Boys and Girls Club became an opportune venue.
"I used to work with Rose as her assistant at (the Katherine House B&G Club in East Chicago)," Tolliver said. "We still keep in touch and she offered to have us come here."
Phase One of the club's relocation project is nearly complete. Phase Two will include moving the club's administrative offices within the facility. Phase Three will allocate space rental for community service operations.
The NWI Basketball Challenge will be the first of many sports-related events the club plans to host.
"This will be a good way to show the people what we've done here and gain more support," Joiner said.