The Field of Champions Campaign Nearly Reaches Fundraising Goal

Groundbreaking Held on June 21 at new Synthetic Turf Field at San Marcos High School

The Field of Champions committee, a nonprofit group that has been working to raise funds to develop a permanent turf field at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, announced that it has received a $500,000 donation from the John and Mardi Warkentin Family.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Thursday, June 21, 2011 at noon at the San Marcos High School at the newly-renamed Warkentin Stadium. The event acknowledged the start of construction on the new synthetic turf field at San Marcos High School. The new field will be completed over the summer in time for use when school starts again in September.

The $500,000 gift from the Warkentin Family includes $100,000 designated for improvements to the nine-year-old track and the addition of track and field competition space.

According to Tim vom Steeg and Rich Ridgway, The Field of Champions campaign co-chairs, another $75,000 is needed to completely fund the new field and track improvements. $900,000 has been raised to date on the $1 million campaign. Donors of $500 or more will be listed on the new Donor Wall which will be established at Warkentin Stadium.

Present at the ceremony were John and Mardi Warkentin who contributed the largest gift to date to the campaign; the stadium has been renamed Warkentin Stadium. The Warkentin Family is well known and respected in the Santa Barbara sports community. John was a multi-sport high school star athlete in Fresno prior to focusing on the decathlon in college. One of the top decathletes in the world and the United States for over a decade with national and world rankings from 1967 to 1979, John was never ranked lower than fifth in the United States each of those years. John trained with legendary coaches, such as Dutch Warmerdam while he attended Fresno State and Sam Adams at UCSB.

He and Mardi moved to Santa Barbara specifically to train with Coach Adams during the 1970’s. John’s wife Marjolein, or Mardi, was the top high school women’s tennis player in the Fresno area during the 1960’s. John and Mardi raised three children, Kara, Mark, and Paul all who attended San Marcos High School. The Warkentin children were all excellent athletes, close to the top in their respective sports in the history of San Marcos High School.

A multiple Channel League tennis singles winner and CIF singles finalist, daughter Kara attended USC on a tennis scholarship where she attained the role of captain and played number one singles and doubles on the USC Woman’s Tennis team. After USC, Kara played one season on the WTA (women’s professional tennis circuit) and served several years as the San Marcos girls tennis coach.

A CIF Champion for the Royals, son Mark competed on numerous USA Swimming National Teams and won gold medals at both the World University Games and Goodwill Games. In 2008, as the U.S. Open Water swimming National Champion in both the 6 mile and 15 mile, Mark represented the USA in the Beijing Olympics in the 10K Open Water swim race.

Paul followed his sister and brother as Channel League champion in tennis singles and also attained top U.S. national rankings in tennis. After San Marcos, Paul attended Ohio State and later the University of Arizona on tennis scholarships. Paul continued his tennis career with three years on the men’s professional tennis circuit tour.

Also recognized at the event was Valley Club golf pro Scott Puailoa, a former three-sport star at San Marcos. The Sut Pailoa Field was named for his late father, athlete and coach, Satini Puailoa Sr. His wife Patty Puailoa attended the ceremony. The Puailoa Foundation donated $10,000 to the new field.

The fundraising partnership “The Field of Champions Campaign” was forged to achieve the common goal of enhancing the quality of the Sut Puailoa Field at San Marcos High School, used by over 24,000 youth athletes, community groups, coaches, teachers, spectators, and community members a year. The successful completion of the campaign will result in the replacement of the 40-year-old existing grass field with synthetic turf, a safe and more environmentally sound playing surface. The new state-of-the-art field will replace the existing stadium soccer/track/football/general purpose field at San Marcos High School. The 1,900 student high school is governed by the Santa Barbara School District.

The new turf field will eliminate down time due to muddy fields, lack of grass, dangerous holes, and months of re-seeding every year. In addition, the new field will provide operating cost savings, such as a significant reduction of labor costs, chemicals and fuel for mowing, seeding, fertilization, pesticides, irrigation, field preparation, and striping. The environmentally-friendly turf field filler material is made of recycled tires.

Capital campaign committee members include co-chair Rich Ridgway (Investec Real Estate Companies) , co-chair Tim Vom Steeg(UCSB Men’s Soccer Coach), Lorie Bacon, Daniel Brennan MD, Robert Brennan DDS, Jim Crook, Lisa Douglas, Katina Etsell, Ryan Fell, Billy Gallagher, Paul Gamberdella, Tom Gilmore, Mark Hall, Scott Puailoa, Rochelle Rose, Sal Rodriguez, Darcia Stebbens CPA, Heike Venturino, Stewart White DDS, Erik Wipf DDS, Steve Woodward, Abe Jahadhmy (Athletic Director, San Marcos High School), and Dave Odell (President, Santa Barbara Soccer Club).

“Donations can be in your name, in memory or in honor of someone, or a business name or sponsorship. Substantial donations made now will help us reach our goal quickly,” stated Ridgway. Major gifts and pledges have been made by the Santa Barbara Soccer Club, Cal South Field Development Foundation, Jackson Family Foundation, Williams-Corbett Foundation, Bixby Foundation, Douglas Family Foundation, Sut Puailoa Fund, Volentine Foundation, Bull Foundation, San Marcos Booster Club, and others.

Co-chair VomSteeg stated, “It is a well know fact in our community that we are limiting the opportunity for recreational activity for our youth by not having enough quality fields to play on. The completion of this project will not only add substantial hours of recreational play but will open up space on other fields in our community for other user groups. It really is a win/win situation.”

Anyone interested in contributing to The Field of Champions should contact Scottee Reid at (805) 679-7592, donate on-line at, or mail to TFOC, P.O. Box 60208, Santa Barbara CA 93160. Donations can be earmarked for the turf field or to track improvements


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