Fitness funds: Efforts underway to underwrite new Sizemore Fitness Center at OCHS

The Orange County High School (OCHS) Hornet Fitness Center has been renamed, and OCHS Alumni and Friends Association administrator Bill Hager hopes that new name will be followed closely by a lot of new equipment.

After leading a successful campaign in 2016 to purchase new band uniforms, Hager recently turned his attention to renovating the fitness center in the school’s old gymnasium to better meet the needs of OCHS students, as well as to honor his former coach and longtime friend, Paul Sizemore.

Sizemore was raised in southwest Virginia and had a successful career as a football, baseball and track athlete, first at Coeburn High School and then at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. After completing college and serving for four years in the Army, Sizemore was recruited by his former high school principal, C. J. M. Kyle, who had since become Superintendent of Schools in Orange County, to teach math and coach at OCHS.

Throughout his 30-year career at OCHS, Sizemore was a well-known and respected coach with a 69 percent winning record in football, baseball, basketball and wrestling. Chuck Mason, mayor of Orange, played basketball for Sizemore, and commented on how the coach’s reputation spread to the surrounding region during his tenure.

“He was an unbelievable coach and an incredible guy,” Mason said. “We won a lot and a lot of the athletes from the surrounding areas wanted to play for him.”

Hager, who had played for Sizemore and later served as one of the many hosts of “The Paul Sizemore Show” on local radio station WJMA, felt that the dedication of the fitness center in Sizemore’s name was not only a way to demonstrate the respect he earned at the school and in the community, but also a way to generate increased interest in renovating the fitness center by alumni who would remember his legacy.

“I said to the [school] board, ‘If you approve this, I know it’ll happen,’” Hager explained.

Ultimately, the Orange County School Board did approve the renaming of the fitness center to the Sizemore Fitness Center, as well as Hager’s campaign to add equipment and make improvements to the center, at its June 4 meeting. The official dedication of the Sizemore Fitness Center will take place Sept. 7, and the fundraising campaign kicked off last Friday.

Proceeds from the campaign will be used primarily to buy cardio and strength training equipment, which will be utilized not only by the various OCHS sports teams, but also by a variety of other programs such as for JROTC training. Overall, approximately $50,000 is needed to complete the project, an amount which Hager hopes to raise over the next 50 days.

Those interested in donating can do so by sending a check made payable to “OCHS Fitness Center Fund” to: Orange County High School, 201 Selma Drive, Orange VA 22960.

For more information and updates on the campaign, visit the OCHS Alumni and Friends Association Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/1539543663016465/.

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