LIBERTY, Ill. — The signs taped to the front doors of Liberty High School saying “Gym Closed” were a clear indication the administration didn’t want anyone coming around.
Even if such warnings were ignored, no one was getting in the gym anyhow.
Chains and padlocks on the doors ensured that.
There was work to be done, and the three-man crew tasked with rewaxing the gym floor didn’t need a distraction or someone inadvertently ruining the project until it was complete.
“That’s why we’re in there in socks,” Breiton Klingele said.
Liberty was one of several area gyms to get a clean coat of wax this summer from the Area Distributors crew of Klingele, Hayden Spilker and Dale Garriga. It just so happened this was home for all three. Klingele is a 2022 Liberty graduate, Spilker part of the Class of 2021 and Garriga is a Liberty resident and one of Area Distributors’ leading sales representatives.
That also was the gym where Klingele and his teammates led the Eagles to their best season ever just a few months ago.
Liberty went 30-6 last winter, tying the single-season school record for victories, and finished as the Class 1A state runner-up, the highest state finish of any team in school history. Klingele, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, earned third-team all-state honors from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and was the Eagles’ leading scorer at 13 points per game.
Giving a gym that holds so many memories a fresh look resonated with Klingele.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to go in there and redo the wax on a floor I played my entire high school career on,” Klingele said. “I’m not going to lie, that gym means a lot. It’s where I played four years of high school and where I played with my brother.”
Nolton Klingele graduated from Liberty in 2021, spent his freshman year at college at Culver-Stockton College and has since transferred to John Wood Community College. With Breiton Klingele one of six area products to have signed with the Trail Blazers, the brothers will be reunited on the court this winter.
But it’ll be different because it won’t be the court they grew up on.
“This is my favorite gym,” Klingele said of Liberty.
It has a nice, shiny floor, too.
“It looks really good,” Klingele said.
Better than his days going up and down the floor in practice?
“Oh, yeah,” Klingele said.
Beyond that, there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with completing each gym floor.
“It is a cool job to see what it starts out as and what the finished project is,” Klingele said.
That’s not a bad way to spend the summer.
“Not at all,” Klingele said. “It’s been a great job.”
With it, he had the chance to enhance a gym he’s always called home.
“It’s easily my favorite one we’ve done,” Klingele said.
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