He may have had a Pro Bowl rookie season, but Dallas Cowboys’ Leighton Vander Esch hasn’t forgotten where he came from, and when he wanted to give back to his hometown, Vander Esch found a solution that benefits everyone — including himself.
‘It made the most sense’
Via the Idaho Press, Vander Esch wanted to do something for his alma mater, Salmon River High School, and needed somewhere to work out when he was back home in tiny Riggins, Idaho.
Solution? Vander Esch paid for a desperately needed new weight room at the school.
“It was the first thing that popped into my mind because it was a big need,” Vander Esch said. “It just made the most sense. A lot of the racks and stuff were all made in shop class and everybody has been saying we need a new weight room. It was barely even a weight room before, and now to see the excitement level of the guys using the new room has just been awesome.”
“It just shows his roots and how much he’s connected and still interested in helping the youngsters that are trying to follow in the same path he did,” Salmon River football coach Ty Medley said. “The positive momentum it has already created in two weeks has been great. All of a sudden the guys are far more interested in working out because it’s high quality, brand new stuff.”
Since the weight room opened, Vander Esch has been using it most days starting at 6 a.m., working out before school starts.
The old room was in dire condition: in addition to the racks Vander Esch mentioned, Medley said nearly every bench had a hole in it, the barbells were refurbished or falling apart.
Now? There are two proper racks, a cable-cross unit, benches, 25 sets of dumbbells, kettlebells and other equipment.
“I got to see the whole process, and to see the final product is just amazing,” Medley said. “It’s more than I ever would have seen us have in our weight room.”
The project cost $70,000, and Vander Esch paid over $45,000 of that out of his own pocket; agent Ron Slavin negotiated a discount on equipment and installation with Boise Fitness Equipment in exchange for Vander Esch doing some marketing and promotional work with the company.
Vender Esch was involved in designing the room with Boise Fitness, and when the equipment was delivered earlier this month, he was right there to help unload the truck and unpack boxes.
But the weight room isn’t the only thing Vander Esch is doing to help Salmon River: as part of an apparel deal he has with Nike, he’s arranged for the school’s football and basketball teams to get new uniforms.
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