Click photo to enlarge
Pittsfield volleyball coach Brian Lawton addresses his team at scrimfest Friday evening. The Pittsfield High School gym is under construction to have a hardwood floor installed, which displaces the volleyball team to Berkshire Community College.

PITTSFIELD -- The gymnasium floor at the Frank Moynihan Field House at Pittsfield High School was old, slippery and more than a little dangerous.

"You could really feel it at practice," said Pittsfield volleyball co-captain Sienna Carpenter. "You would always be sliding one way or another."

But it was also home.

"We won't really have a home-court advantage this year," said the Generals' other volleyball co-captain, Sam DeCarlo. "We'll be playing all our games away."

Last week, the Pittsfield City Council approved Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi's request to borrow $60,000 to augment another $130,000 originally authorized in June to refinish the gym floor at Moynihan.

The plan calls for covering the non-wood floor at the field house with a two-inch wood overlay.

No one argued against the project, which got underway this week.

And in fact, the coaches of the high school's respective basketball teams are certainly not disappointed.

"We're ecstatic," said PHS girls coach Joe Racicot.

"We're happy about it," said PHS boys coach Steve Ray.

The issue is, however, that the work will carry through until October, which very neatly covers the volleyball team's season.

Prior to the green-lighting of the project, Pittsfield Schools Athletic Director Jim Abel made arrangements for the team to play its nine home games at the Berkshire Community College gym.

In addition, according to Pittsfield coach Brian Lawton, the team will practice at the Egremont School gym on Egremont Ave.


Lawton did not dispute that there are clear disadvantages to playing all 18 league games on the road. But, he said, the safety factor was becoming more and more of an issue.

"It was getting pretty bad," he said. "Kids were slipping in practice and in games. We never had a major incident, but you could see it coming."

Lawton said that there was an incident last year where a Taconic player slipped and sustained an injury, and that raised alarm bells.

"And as the year went on, as kids would come in off the streets and walk across the gym, the dirt would accumulate, and it just kept getting worse," he said.

The Generals are coming off a strong season, in which they won 10 games and qualified for the Western Mass. Division I tournament, advancing to the semifinals.

"The problem is, we're all concerned that we'll lose our fans," said Lawton. "In previous years, the football team would finish practice, and they would come in and root for us. We'll always have the parents in here, but I don't know if people will want to make the trip from PHS."

"It's kind of annoying," agreed Carpenter. "We don't get a lot of people coming to our matches as it is, except for our parents. So this won't help."

"Plus," said De Carlo, "we practice at Egremont, and we'll be playing at BCC. So we won't really get used to playing at either place."

Carpenter said the team was also offered the opportunity to play at the gym at Taconic High School, but opted for BCC.

"We didn't want to play on the floor of our rival," she said.

This is not to say the Generals believe all is lost. Both DeCarlo and Carpenter believe the team will be competitive in the league.

"We've had some good practices," said Carpenter.

"I think the most important thing is that we're playing together as a team already," said DeCarlo.