SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — It’s been four years since sports were played at Peabody Stadium.
Once the state health department allows kids to return to in-person learning, not only will they walk back onto campus with a state-of-the-art stadium but a new gym is on the way as well.
This is all thanks to Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, who’s partnering with the Hutton Parker Foundation, Sonos, and Perform Better to provide a new gym at Santa Barbara High School.
"We're really excited about being able to use the space we have down underneath our stadium,” SBHS athletic director Todd Heil said. “Something that can be utilized by as many students and athletes as well."
This marks the first project of its kind from the Austin Ekeler Foundation, which he launched during the 2020 NFL season.
His foundation’s mission is to implement resources that can provide an opportunity for people to better themselves.
With the Santa Barbara High School gym, the Foundation, Perform Better and Sonos will create a reusable resource that can be enjoyed by a large number of young people for years to come.
Ekeler also has family members who live in the area and have attended Santa Barbara High.
"I'm super excited that we have a Charger that's donating to our community and cares about our community,” Santa Barbara Unified School District superintendent Hilda Maldonado said.
Santa Barbara High boys basketball head coach Corey Adam believes that the fitness facility will elevate his athletes.
"I think about the last four groups of seniors, who unfortunately didn't get to have this,” he said. “For the guys moving forward, this is pretty special."
The gym will be located directly underneath Peabody Stadium’s stands with brand-new exercise equipment, sound systems and flooring.
"Our weights are pretty old, I think they're the ones that I used to use twenty plus years ago,” Adam added. “It’s great to get some fresh equipment."
"They'll be racks, benches, rowing machines and stationary bikes,” Heil said.
The blank space will soon become a source of pride for the Dons.
"They're basically coming right in,” Heil said. “Being able to put their touches into that space."
Not only will the new gym be available to athletes but all students will have access to increase their fitness.
"When they finally get to come back to Santa Barbara High, the kids will feel welcomed with a sense of belonging and pride,” Maldonado concluded.
The $104,000 project is expected to be complete this March.