Inside the Jay Willard Gym at EHS | Photos Shayna Matteoli submitted by

After more than 70 years of hosting Loggers’ games, rallies and other community and school events, Eureka High School’s historic Jay Willard Gymnasium will soon be torn down, and a series of special events will be held this weekend to give the gym a proper farewell. 

The event, put on by the EHS Athletic Boosters, will span across three days and includes a basketball shoot-out contest on Friday, a “Last Classic” dinner with special guest speakers on Saturday and a final walk through the memory-filled gym on Sunday. 

Shayna Matteoli of the Athletic Boosters has been putting a lot of effort into the goodbye event, tracking down alumni and hall-of-famers to speak during the Saturday night dinner. As an EHS alum and past athlete, with two children at the school now, Matteoli said it’s important to pay homage to the gym that holds so many memories.  

“It’s a historical gym,” Matteoli told the Outpost over the phone on Wednesday morning. “I think it’s really important to people — not only people who went there but also other people in the community.” 

The event meant not only to commemorate the gym itself but also to honor the person for whom it’s named, the late EHS coach Jay Willard (1898-1973). Willard taught physical education at the school from 1927 to 1963 and coached football, basketball, baseball, track and golf for various lengths during that time. Willard received many honors over the years, including being named teacher of the year, and he was added to the California Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame. You can read more about Coach Willard’s legacy in this tribute article from the Humboldt Historian

Willard’s granddaughter, Melinda Sheridan, will be speaking during the Saturday night event after traveling all the way from British Columbia to honor her grandfather. There will also be many speakers, including past coaches and athletic directors, Loggers hall-of-famers and other alumni. 

Coach Willard

Though many folks are fond of the Jay Willard Gym, which was built in 1950, Eureka City Schools had seismic and economic concerns with the aging building and determined that it would be best to build an entirely new gym. After breaking ground in 2020, the new facility is nearly complete and expected to open by the beginning of the next school year. Demolition of the old gym is expected to begin after school lets out in June. 

Matteoli said it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to the old gym and welcome in the new. “Our new gym is beautiful, but it’s nothing like the old one,” she said.  

The farewell event will take place this Friday, April 28 through Sunday, April 30. The Saturday night event costs $60 per person and includes a dinner and silent auction, in addition to the guest speakers. All of the proceeds from the tickets will go directly toward supporting the EHS athletics department. But, if the cost is too steep for you, the Friday night basketball event and the Sunday farewell visit are both free and open to the public. 

You can find tickets and more information at this link. You can email any questions to