San Marcos High’s football team will be playing this fall on a synthetic turf field in Warkentin Stadium – the new name that the school’s outdoor arena will carry after four decades as Valley Stadium.
John and Mardi Warkentin were present at a groundbreaking ceremony last week. Their family donated $500,000 toward the funding of a durable, permanent turf on the heavily used field. Part of their donation was earmarked toward improvements of the running track at the stadium.
With the big boost from the Warkentins, “The Field of Champions” campaign has raised $900,000 toward its goal of $1 million, according to co-chairs Tim Vom Steeg and Rich Ridgway..
John Warkentin made his name in track and field as a national champion in the decathlon (1970). The son of a missionary, he was born in India and grew up in Fresno. After graduating from Fresno State, he moved to Santa Barbara with his wife Mardi to continue his training under the guidance of UCSB coach Sam Adams.
Amateur rules were strictly enforced in those days, and all Warkentin received was a meager subsidy from the AAU. “We got a dollar a day,” said Mardi, then a nurse. But after John got law degree, they went into the real estate business, and it proved profitable.
The Warkentins raised three children. Although outstanding athletes, none of them performed in the stadium during their high school years at San Marcos. Kara and Paul were tennis stars, taking after their mother. Mark Warkentin was a swimmer who competed in the open-water swim at the Beijing Olympics.
Donors are still being sought to complete the funding of the turf field and the track upgrade. Anyone interested should contact Scottee Reid at (805-679-7592) or visit thefieldofchampions.com.