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Funky Gym Comes Back to Life for New Edmonds Sports Academy

Owner Michael Burdett is currently focusing on basketball at the Edmonds Center for the Arts retro icon, which he's helping to replicate the feel of the old high school.

Fifty years ago, a modern, state-of-the-art gym was built at the location of Edmonds’ original high school, which is now the renovated . Today, the gym – officially the Fahey Family Gymnasium – is a delightfully retro and funky link to the past. Wide-eyed visitors imagine the movie Hoosiers when stepping through its doors for the first time.

Now, third-generation Edmonds resident Michael Burdett – his family’s been here 74 years –is giving the gym a new presence as it becomes the center of his new Edmonds Sports Academy, which debuts on Saturday with an open house at the gym. It’s a soft opening, and Burdett hopes to have well-known basketball players at the grand opening next month.

At Edmonds Sports Academy, Burdett and a team of local coaches and trainers will offer personalized programs and coaching to athletes of all ages. From basketball clinics designed to dramatically improve players’ skills, to youth camps, tournaments and adult open gyms, ESA will have specialized, affordable coaching to select basketball players.

Burdett has been involved in sports, both playing and coaching, his entire life. After graduating from in Edmonds, he played basketball at O’Dea High School in Seattle and was recruited and started all four years at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.

After returning to Edmonds, he’s gone on to spend the past two decades coaching youth players in various sports in the Edmonds area, including roles with SnoKing and Bothell select teams. His coaching years have culminated in several championship seasons and college scholarships for his players.

Burdett, who is a financial coach with an office in Edmonds, was one of the founders last year of the nonprofit girls’ basketball feeder program, where he is board member. The first year featured 67 girls in grades five through eight.

“I saw that kids were leaving town and not playing with their friends," Burdett said. "I want the kids to stay in town, for them to play with girls from Meadowdale, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.”

The EWHS feeder program dovetails with the Edmonds Sports Academy. “There are no open gyms for girls,” Burdett said. “If there is one, boys show up and girls are reluctant to play with them. At the academy, the open gyms are age, grade and sex appropriate. The whole idea is about throwing the ball in and letting them play for an hour and a half. Getting the parents and coaches out of the way, letting them call their own fouls.”

The gym will not just be available to select players. There will be open gyms for all ages, all abilities, as well.

“I’m 51, but I still play three times a week,” said Burdett. “The problem for guys like me is that if I go to an open gym, there are high school kids or youngsters there. We don’t want to play with them because they’re too quick.”

At this time, ESA is only offering basketball, but plans are to have other sports, including baseball, indoor soccer, volleyball and dodgeball.

“We’re excited to add additional facilities throughout the community as ESA continues to grow,” said Burdett, who established the Tom Petosa Golf Classic, one of the largest golf tournaments in Snohomish County.

Although not affiliated with the – the academy pays an hourly rental rate for the gym – the ECA welcomes the new tenant. Burdett is also an ECA board member.

“It’s great to have this business in the city,” said Joe McIalwain, ECA director. “There will be a cross-pollination involved between us and them, so it helps us all.”

You can be sure that Burdett will be shooting a few hoops on Saturday himself during the open house. It was where he played hoops way back in the ninth grade, when it was known as Edmonds Junior High. He also had his first dance at the school that year, when he worked up the nerve to ask a girl out.

Burdett’s father, who graduated from the original high school in 1955, will also be on hand, wearing his school letterman jacket from that year.

“If you look at the colors inside the gym, you’ll see I went totally went old school,” said Burdett. “When my dad graduated, they were called the Edmonds Tigers. So I brought back the Tigers logo and the old colors.”

The center of the basketball court still sports the old logo from a former tenant, Puget Sound Christian College, which left the location a decade ago. Burdett hopes to place his own logo there. He also will be working with the Edmonds School District to use additional local gyms since there are only two baskets at the site.

Even with that downside, and the fact that the lighting is a little dim, Burdett can’t wait to see the old gym come back to life. “It’s like Hoosiers, man. You got the wood bleachers. It’s not the perfect gym, but the kids love it.”

The Edmonds Sports Academy debuts Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fahey Family Gymnasium of the Edmonds Performing Arts Center, 410 Fourth Ave. N, Edmonds (the gym entrance is on Sixth Avenue North). For more information, go the academy’s website.

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