MONROEVILLE - When fans and players arrive at Monroeville High School today for the Firelands Conference volleyball showdown between the Lady Eagles and St. Paul Lady Flyers, they might think they've entered a new varsity gymnasium. That is because the 60-year-old gym has a newly repainted floor and walls.
Topping off the refurbishments: The words "In Loving Memory of Mary Wilhelm" emblazoned onto a memorial plaque on the floor. The newly redone floor serves to memorialize Wilhelm, the late mother of three who either attended or currently attend Monroeville High School and participate in athletics. Wilhelm died Nov. 18, 2005 at age 49 of natural causes.
The eldest daughter, Melanie, played basketball and graduated in 2004; the middle daughter, Amanda, a 2006 graduate, played volleyball, basketball and softball; and youngest daughter, Carrie, is a junior who plays all three sports.
Athletic Director Ben Paul said the girls' mother was quite involved on the sidelines as a booster parent.
"It would have been impossible to go to a game and not see her there," he said. Whether it was decorating the locker room, providing snacks for players or similar endeavors, Wilhelm and her husband, Harold, was involved, Paul said.
"I think a lot of the kids looked at her as kind of a second mom," Paul said, adding Wilhelm was well-known in the community.
Paul said as a person, Wilhelm always smiled and was friendly.
"If you never met her before (she) would put you at ease the moment you met her," Paul said.
A couple of years ago, school officials started a fund to refurbish the varsity gym's floor. Shortly after they jump-started the fund, Wilhelm died. In lieu of flowers, Harold Wilhelm requested people donate money toward the floor fund in his wife's memory. Paul said people donated between $3,500 and $4,000 toward the fund, and the renovations ended up costing about $4,500. A company worked on the floor, making it brighter, while the athletic boosters painted the gym white.
"The floor is absolutely phenomenal," Paul said. "Redoing this floor really does make it look like a new gym. I think (Wilhelm) would be really pleased with how it turned out."
Carrie said when she sees her mother's name, she feels as though her mom is guiding her through games.
Melanie said she's thankful for the tribute.
"I think it looks really nice and it makes me really happy and proud to know that the school would do something like that for my mom," she said.