FORT VALLEY, Ga. — Looking up into the rafters in the Peach County High School gym, you see two numbers retired. One of them belongs to Natalie White, who played on the girls basketball team from 1987 to 1991.
Kayla Mathis is a junior on the Peach County High School girls basketball team. She says Natalie White set the bar high for her and her teammates.
"Growing up here, you either had this gym, the Spruce Street gym, or the park. We didn't have recreation centers, so it was either outside, the park or this gym," says Mathis.
When she heard the school legend is changing that, she says she was glad.
"This gym will probably keep us out of trouble since we have an open gym. You can go to the gym any time you want," says Mathis.
Through White's non-profit organization, the A10tion Foundation, Inc., the old Hunt Middle School on Tulip Drive will not only have a new gym, but also a classroom for students to learn.
Over FaceTime, White says, "My plan is to focus on three things -- financial literacy, mental health, and fitness."
After having her number retired at both the high school and her alma mater, Florida A&M University, she is now the senior vice president of the L.A. Sparks WNBA team.
Despite her success, White says she never forgets where she came from. "I used to play in this gym, so you can only imagine the upgrades that are needed."
While she's on the west coast, she enlisted the help of her former high school basketball coach and aunt, Maxine Cherry, to oversee the project. Cherry was the girls basketball coach at Peach County High School for over 30 years.
Cherry says, "The kids will get exposed to a lot more than what they've been exposed to, and they'll have freedom to come in and venture out."
Renovations have begun at the gym, which will be called the A10tion Foundation Center.
The fundraising goal to complete renovations is $50,000. White says since November 1, they've raised $8,000.
To read more about the youth center and how you can donate, visit Natalie White's website here.
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