High school receives new locker room, courtesy of Dwyane Wade


JEFFERSON, La. — There wasn’t much of a locker room here at Riverdale High. The floor was an ugly linoleum, the lockers themselves were brown, yellow and white (strange because the Rebels’ team color is red) and the room had been built in 1976—and not updated once since.

That’s when Dwyane Wade and Gatorade stepped in.

After halftime of Riverdale’s three-point win over Ben Franklin on Saturday, a crew of workers snuck into the Rebel locker room at the behest o

f Wade, and utterly revamped the room, replacing the outdated metal lockers with handcrafted wooden lockers in the style of an NBA locker room.

Yes, it took them only an hour. And, yes, the players were utterly shocked when they saw the transformation.

The old locker room:

The new one:

The Rebels were equally shocked when Wade, in town for the weekend’s All-Star festivities, showed up to greet them.

“This is like an NBA locker room now,” Wade said. “You want kids to have that. My locker room, we had like iron lockers. Our coach’s office was in the shower. He did his stuff in the shower area.

"But that is a time, as a player, you spend so much time around your teammates—you are getting silly after practice, you celebrate your wins here, you bring your defeats here. For them to be able to come here, they can come in and feel proud.”

It capped a particularly special day for the Riverdale coach, Robert Mays. He has been the team’s coach for 17 years, plus three more as an assistant, and the win over Ben Franklin pushed the Rebels’ record to 16-7. That put Riverdale on track to earn a coveted spot in the Louisiana state playoffs. The Rebels have not made the postseason during Mays’ tenure.

“This means a lot,” Mays said. “This gives them a place to come to, a place to relax, a place to bond. This is a big upgrade. They are going to want to come and be in this locker room, and that is really gratifying for me. And with this win, today, this is probably going to put us in. It is a big day for us.”

That registered with Wade.

“Whenever you come for All-Star weekend, you always look to give something, to give back,” Wade said “Basketball is obviously the thing that brought us all here, so to be able to come here and find this high school close to downtown, having a great year after a lot of hard years, for me to be able to add something to that, I am just happy that I can be a small part of it.”