A great surprise for a great coach and leader. Behind the scenes, and as hush-hush as you can keep a secret among dozens of people, the Thurston County Police Athletic League (TCPAL) planned a make-over of the gym. Keeping the secret remodel off the radar was a feat that required everyone’s support. Coaches, administrative assistant Tanisha Owens and even Mrs. Spry kept a lid on the grand plans.

“We decided to surprise Coach Spry as a way to show our gratitude and appreciation for everything he’s done for not only our children, but every single child whose life he’s had an impact on,” says Tanisha Owens, administrative assistant.

Coach Lydell Spry arrived at the gym on March 7, 2021 and rolled up the bay door to his trainees chanting a workout cadence. Staff and gym members greeted Spry, all wearing matching t-shirts with Operation Coach Spry printed on the back. After a blessing was said over the day and the coach, he was led through a tour of the renovations. Coach Johnson shared a few words to those gathered, and coach Spry stood on the ring’s outer ledge so he could express his thoughts and thanks to all. He spoke with encouragement for his young trainees, shared his hopes for their futures and gave them life lesson advice. The afternoon culminated in a barbeque outside and Mrs. Spry signature sweet potato pies.

“I was elated that everybody kept the big secret about what they were doing. They leave me speechless,” said Coach Spry.

Coach Spry, someone who was the on receiving end of mentorship as a young man, provides the same leadership for his community. Originally from Los Angeles, traveling abroad with the army elite boxing team and once training as an Olympic hopeful, Spry offers experience and insight to those he trains. Both founder and president of the league, he has invested countless hours and his own money investing in the gym to make it a place where young people can learn a skill, self-discipline and accountability.

The TCPAL building has office space, a full boxing ring, a variety of punching bag types and exercise equipment. Staff and those in the program have the necessities to train, but a few added amenities and updates would make a few operations go more smoothly. To make the gym’s heating and cooling more cost effective, the upper half of a room dividing wall has been completed with additional framing and drywall up to the roof. The changing room has been transformed into a locker room, with lockers, benches and the gym logo will be displayed on a newly painted floor. An 85-inch television will hang on the freshly painted gyms walls. A new storage space for sparing gear and weights is in the works as well. Materials and labor for the renovations have been supplied by local businesses, such as Capital Painting Company, Builders First Source, and Sherwin Williams. Numerous area contractors and Army C company 1-23 first brigade from Joint Base Lewis McChord also donated their time in labor.

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