Sprinkler shot ruins Aspen High’s basketball floor | AspenTimes.com

Sprinkler shot ruins Aspen High’s basketball floor

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

Talk about a brick.

An errant shot this summer during a basketball camp at the Aspen High School gym took out a sprinkler head and the resulting torrent of water ruined the floor, school officials said Friday.

Now the floor must be completely replaced before the school’s sports teams can again use the facility, said John Maloy, Aspen School District superintendent.

“It was an accident as far as we know,” Maloy said.

The floor will cost about $300,000 to replace, though the entire cost will be covered by insurance, Maloy said.

Steve Ketchum, a former Aspen High School head boys basketball coach who runs the Aspen Basketball Academy, said the incident occurred during the last day of the last camp in late July.

“It seemed like Murphy’s law just kicked in right then,” he said. “We were doing shooting drills like we always do.”

The players were lined up against the wall practicing their shots when one of them shot a ball higher than he should have, Ketchum said. As bad luck would have it, the ball hit one of the sprinklers near the roof that didn’t have a protective cover on it, he said.

“We heard a loud pop,” Ketchum said. “Then a hissing sound and water started shooting out of it.”

Maloy said the water fell on the floor for 20 to 30 minutes before a company that deals with water damage arrived and affixed a hose to the sprinkler head that directed the water outside. However, hundreds of gallons of water hit the floor before it could be diverted, he said.

Ketchum said he sent the campers upstairs to the Skier Dome — the school’s older, smaller gym — before he and all of the other available school district employees grabbed brooms and mops and pushed the water outside.

But it wasn’t enough to save the floor.

A vinyl coating underneath the floor caught a lot of the water and later caused the floor to buckle, Maloy said. The insurance company later declared the floor “a total disaster” and said it had to be replaced, he said.

The district put the job out to bid and last week entered into an agreement with the Denver company that initially installed the floor to replace it, Maloy said. The new floor should be installed by early November, just in time for the girls and boys basketball teams to begin practice, he said.

Meanwhile, the only athletic team affected by the incident is the volleyball team, which is practicing in the Skier Dome, Maloy said.

Ketchum said he felt “horrible” about the incident, though he admitted the news wasn’t all bad.

“The silver lining in this cloud is we get a brand-new floor,” he said. “It was starting to show signs of wear.”

Ketchum, who now coaches a high school team in Parker, said a similar incident occurred 10 or 12 years ago in the Skier Dome when a player drop-kicked a soccer ball and hit a sprinkler head. That prompted the school to install protective covers on all the sprinklers, though balls have continued to fly since then and sometimes knock the covers off, he said.

In fact, when he sent his campers upstairs to the Skier Dome, he said he counted at least half a dozen sprinkler heads in that facility without covers.