SUZETTE COOK/Alachua County Today
The Santa Fe High School Raiders football team got their first workout in on Aug. 25 since the completion of a state of the art 12 station workout room made possible by patrons. Nose guard Steven Williams, above, takes his turn.
ALACHUA – It is 8 a.m. and Building 25 at Santa Fe High School is about to fill up with the Raider Varsity Football Team.
Head Coach Bill Wiles has his list ready. Jog, Raider jacks, plank, side bridge, leg throw, bench bar, squat bar, shrug, iso neck with partner.
This is the first full workout for the Raider team in the school’s new weight room that is about four times bigger than it was a few months ago. Walls are down and with the help of fundraising leader Faye Zuidema, local businesses and patrons stepped up to support the request for a better way for all Raiders to build strength.
“We had a vision,” said SFHS Athletic Director Michele Faulk. “It was going to cost about $52,000, and Faye Zuidema got a lot of community business leaders involved. In less than two months, we raised $62,000.”
On Aug. 21, patrons were invited to Building 25 to see what their donations turned into.
“You can do so many different things with this,” Faulk said and pointed to one of 12 universal workout stations that cost about $5,000 each.
Coach Wiles came in for a quick visit before kickoff and shook hands with platinum sponsors Greg Waitcus of Santa Fe Ford and Alan Hitchcock. He made his way around the room and greeted and thanked all of the patrons involved.
Faulk addressed the attendees, “We wanted you to see, this is what your money went for and our kids can’t stay out of here. This community amazes me beyond words. You are so giving in less than two months we raised this money.”
On the donor wall, plaques list the sponsors: Santa Fe Ford, The Hitchcock Family, Darrell Timberlake, Coach Warren Buck, O'steen Brothers, Inc., The Crane Foundation, High Springs Electric, Inc., Zac Zedlais, Bev's Burger Cafe', Rothseiden Family, Jack and Faye Zuidema, Cedar Lane Farms, Inc., Rembert Family Foundation, Inc., Hitchcock's Foodway, Santa Fe High School Advisory Council, Captial City Bank, Raoul Wallenberg, Reverend Hillery & Donna Bassriel, The Thomas Family:Clay, Kevin and Jackson, Renasant Bank, Custom Lighting, Inc., Bottita Family, Gussie M. W. Lee and Family, Main Street Pie Co., Mason J. Hancock, Alachua Farm & Lumber and Joel DeCoursey, Jr.
Former Raider athletes and coaches names are on the wall. Former SFHS Coach Warren Buck is standing next to one of his players who also donated to the project. Darrell Timberlake, class of 1989, broke the record in points in a game, Coach Buck says. Buck graduated from SFHS in 1964 came back to coach in 1974. “I coached for 30 years,” Buck said. “We’ve never had anything this nice before. I know they’ll utilize it use it real well.”
He pointed to Timberlake said, “He still holds the record 54 points in one game against Interlachen.”
Timberlake was a forward for the Raider basketball team, and he also helped support the expansion with a substantial donation.
“It’s fantastic,” Timberlake said about the facility. “We’ve been very blessed and very honored to help the school out.”
Principal Dr. Beth LeClear joked that the place “looks like a college locker room,” and added, “Our community knew that we needed something for our children, and look at what we got. It’s amazing. No other place than Santa Fe.”
Assistant Track Coach and Algebra Teacher Basil Wetherington said he is excited to get his athletes on the equipment.
“These are half-rack multipurpose, so we can do all of the Olympic exercises, the traditional static, all the compound exercises, suspension training,” Wetherington said.
“You’re talking about complete 100 percent total body exercise, all confined in a small space that you can get 3 or 4 athletes at each rack. With 12 racks, that’s 48 to 50 athletes working out at once, plus excess space to do our other exercise.
Platinum sponsor Alan Hitchcock said he has always been a fan of the Raiders’ sports teams.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “Because it’s really a state of the art, brand new, first class facility that I hope the kids will really be excited about building their bodies and making themselves into bigger stronger athletes.”
Hitchcock said he was a basketball player and that he continues to follow SFHS sports.
“I’m a big supporter of Coach Wiles,” he added. “And I hope this really helps him take us to the next level.”
Wiles knew exactly what to do with the new equipment as he took over the workout room on Aug. 25.
“Front plank hold for 30,” he shouted out directions. “On your front, 30, on your right, 30, on your left, 30. Make sure your body is straight.”
Then he introduced his athletes to the equipment. “Take those off, lay them on the floor,” he said about weights on the rack. “Put them on about two or three, there you go,” he instructed.
Clink clank clink clank, metal on metal sounds took over the room.
The players dug into the workout.
“It a good atmosphere, said Isaiah Cromarty, 16. “It makes me want to work out.”
Junior Tryston Dejesus agreed. “It’s really nice, way better than we used to have.
Senior Defensive Nose Guard Steven Williams said his exercise of choice is the bench press. “It looks good,” he said about the new facility and added what he plans to get out of it.
“A lot of strength, a lot of team building.”
At the end of the workout, the team gathered in the center of the room and built up to the same team cheer they execute before taking the field. “Raiders, Raiders, Raiders,” they yelled in unison.
They showed up for that first workout filtering in one by one, stopping at the sponsor wall and reading the names of the people and businesses that made the workout space a reality.
They left Building 25 in a group, as a team and headed to class with more energy than they arrived with.
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