The weight room in Darlington's A.J. Huffman ('67) Memorial Athletic Center has received a complete overhaul from floor to ceiling, including brand-new equipment, thanks to a generous donation by current parents Harry and Terri Pierce, topping off money raised at the Purple Tie Tiger Tailgate in November 2021. The new space will be called the Pierce Tiger Pit and has been dedicated in honor of Tommy Atha, longtime head football coach and assistant athletic director.
"We are excited to bring back the Tiger Pit name to acknowledge the former weight room before the Huffman Athletic Center was built and keep some great Darlington history," said Harry. "We are also very happy to recognize Coach Atha with this gift by honoring his leadership and commitment to the entire Darlington Community."
Atha has taught P.E. at Darlington since 1993. In addition to his roles as assistant athletic director and head varsity football coach, he has also served as a middle school girls' basketball coach. Atha has led the Tigers football team to the state playoffs 17 times and coached them to three consecutive region championships.
"It is a tremendous honor to have the Pierce Tiger Pit named in my honor," said Atha. "I am blown away and truly humbled that the Pierces would honor me in this way. They have always been such great supporters of Darlington, and our new weight room takes it to a whole new level."
The Pierces have a long history of supporting the efforts of Darlington School. Terri currently serves on the Board of Trustees and has previously served as the president of Pre-K to 8 Tiger Pride and Darlington's Parents Council. Harry is an avid Darlington Tigers fan and loves to attend sporting events on campus. Together, Harry and Terri support The Darlington Fund at the J.J. Darlington level and are annual patrons of the Purple Tie Affair.
"Harry and I are both honored to support the school in any way we can," said Terri. "We love serving and giving back to the school that is giving our family and this Darlington Community so much. There are so many ways to get involved and give back, and we encourage everyone to find what they love at Darlington and do the same."
This is not their first gift in support of Darlington's athletic program. Previously, they donated new electronic goal adjusters for the Johnson Field House and a new score-keeping table in the Van Es Arena. The weight room renovations will feature brand-new weights and weight racks, cardio and weight machines, and more. The renovations will be complete in time for the 2022-2023 school year.
"The Pierce Tiger Pit will change the lives of so many of our student-athletes," said Athletic Director Eddie Guth. "It will allow them to remain healthy, competitive on the playing fields, and will take our competitive edge to the next level. This will give every one of our student-athletes the opportunity to go as far as they want to go with their fitness and health."
Harry and Terri are the parents of seventh-grader Sara Jo and Victoria ('16).
"We are so grateful to the Pierce family for making this happen for our students and community as a whole," said Chief Advancement Officer Julie Lucas ('97). "They give their all to the school just like our students and teachers do, and we are excited to share the Pierce Tiger Pit with everyone soon."