San Marcos breaks ground on Warkentin Stadium field

Although the earth movers beat them to it, members of the San Marcos Field of Champions committee and major donors John and Mardi Warkentin dug up some old grass with their blue and red shovels during a ceremonial ground-breaking for a new synthetic field surface at the renamed Warkentin Stadium on Tuesday.

With the Warkentin’s incredibly generous $500,000 donation, the project to install a state-of-the-art turf field and a new all-weather track is well on its way to being acomplished.

Parts of the grass and top soil were already stripped away and dump trucks were rumbling in and out of the stadium.

San Marcos hopes to have the field completed by its first home football game on Sept. 23.

The field will also be used by youth sports organizations like YFL and the Santa Barbara Soccer Club.

“We like the idea of giving to kids and sports,” said Mardi Warkentin, whose three children, Kara, Mark and Paul, were all standout athletes at San Marcos. “We like what sports did for our children. We thought this would be great to do.”

“Our kids went through that place, and we really appreciate the work and time and effort the coaches put into it with our kids,” said John Warkentin. “This is a thank you for them.”

San Marcos Athletic Director Abe Jahadhmy said the project proved that when the community and school work together great things can happen.

“When the community gets together and decides to do something like this, it becomes very special,” he said. “It’s quite an accomplishment what San Marcos and the community has done.”

Dave Odell, the athletic director at Westmont College and  president of the Santa Barbara Soccer Club, echoed that sentiment.

“In this ecomony, it’s going to take public-private partnerships like this to get projects like this done,” he said. “As long as the school district is under a budget crisies, this is the only way things are probably going to happen.”

Scott Puailoa, a former San Marcos three-sport star  whose late father,  Santini “Sut” Puailoa, was the school’s first football coach and has the field named in his honor, said his father would be “extremely excited that there will be a bunch of kids out there playing on the field. That’s what it was all about for him, the kids.”

Puailoa remembered going to watch his father coach at San Marcos in 1960 and the home side of the stadium was nothing but a grass hill.

When the new field is completed in the fall, “that will be a special day,” Puailoa said. “It will be a special time for our family and for the community to be able to participate and see something as great as this.”

UCSB men’s soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg, who co-chaired the project with Rich Ridgway, said the Warkentin’s donation is exciting, “but the real exciting time is going to come in the fall, when we walk out here for the first time and see what will be the finest field, I think, not only on the central coast but anywhere in California, the west coast and anywhere else, certainly at a high school.

“We’re going to have a surface here in which kids are going to enjoy playing every single day they show up. They’ll be excited to come out to practice and play games here.”

Members of the Field of Champions committee and major donors John and Mardi Warkentin break ground on the new turf field.



  1. Congrats to San Marcos! This field will be a great asset to the entire community.