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High school names gym for Jordan Burroughs

Winslow Township High School honored Jordan Burroughs by naming its gym in his honor in a ceremony on Saturday

It's not every day that a 28-year-old has a high school gym named in his honor.

Then again, how many high schools can claim a graduate with an Olympic gold medal?

New Jersey's Winslow Township High School honored alum Jordan Burroughs by naming its gym in his honor in a ceremony on Saturday.

"You think about all the hours I spent in this gymnasium where you had a dream but you hadn't accomplished anything," the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in men's freestyle wrestling said during a speech in the newly dedicated Jordan Burroughs Gymnasium. "We truly worked our butts off in hopes of something great, in hopes of accomplishing something good.

"You have all these delusions of grandeur and you watch TV, you spend time on social media and you see these amazing athletes from these wonderful places. You dream that it will be you, but you never believe that it actually will be."

Superintendent H. Major Poteat weighed in on Jordan Burroughs' significance as a Winslow Township High grad.

"He epitomizes exactly what we're trying to do here," said Poteat. " ... The climate hasn't changed that much as far as the socioeconomic status of the community.

"He came from one of the more challenging areas in Winslow. We'll always have students coming from that area. But your present circumstance does not dictate what your outcome is going to be. Jordan represents hard work, perseverance, a positive attitude, being a good person, (he's) respectful, accountable. Good things can happen."

Burroughs added his personal perspective on the community where he grew up.

"We're a predominantly African-American community, which I am," said the two-time NCAA champ at the University of Nebraska. "We're a working-class community, which I come from.

"My parents both still work full time. My dad (Leroy) is a construction worker. My mom (Janice) works in a union in Philadelphia. I just want people to recognize it's possible. It takes focus, dedication and really, discipline, to get to this high level of success. But like, I did it. From here. These same teachers, these same facilities, this same community. It's possible. I want people to recognize that."

During his speech, Burroughs disclosed that he received an all-important phone call from area code 856 -- his home area code -- about a week after his being denied an opportunity to earn a second gold medal at this summer's Olympics in Brazil.

"I was a little down on myself and I saw 856, so I figured it was somebody I knew and on the other line was Dr. Poteat," said Burroughs at Saturday's dedication of the gymnasium. "It was really profound to me at that moment of my difficulties and misery. He just reminded me that regardless of my performance they were still going to name the gym after me."

The decision to name the athletic facility the Jordan Burroughs Gymnasium was made by the Winslow Township Board of Education last December.

"It's not all about the accomplishments. It's that people discovered who you were on the way. The love shown immediately after the Olympic Games told me I'm solidified and certified as a legend in the sport and a great individual with a ton of character, so I'm thankful," Burroughs said.

Burroughs expressed that thankfulness to the world beyond his hometown high school in a message on his @allIseeisgold Twitter account Saturday afternoon.

"Thank you to Dr. Poteat and the entire Winslow Township Board of Education for today! It's truly an honor! Jordan Burroughs Gymnasium!"

It was just a decade ago that Jordan Burroughs' graduation ceremony took place in that gym. In fact, he missed his ten-year high school reunion because that night he was at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"I still remember walking out at graduation in a green cap and gown," said Burroughs. "You always want to return better than you left, and I'm glad to be back."

Pretty impressive for a young man who was 16-13 his first season wrestling at Winslow Township High ... but went on to incredible achievements in all levels of wrestling, from New Jersey state titles, national championships, and international acclaim.

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