Source: Gwinnett Prep Sports
One of Peachtree Ridge’s most distinguished families is the namesake of the high school’s new athletic building.
The Heyward Performance Center, slated to open before the 2020-21 school year begins, was approved as the facility’s name Thursday night by the Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Board of Education. The multi-purpose building will be used for training by all of the Lions’ athletic teams, and for physical education classes during the school day.
“We have a person, Mrs. Charlotte Heyward, has approached the Peachtree Ridge administration about wanting to make a donation that would support this building,” Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks told the school board Thursday night.
The 4,000-square-foot building, situated near the school property line at the back end of the stadium, will house artificial turf and workout equipment for conditioning, as well as two locker rooms and restrooms that can be used during stadium events.
“We’re excited the Heyward name is going to be a legacy at Peachtree Ridge,” Peachtree Ridge athletic and activities director Ryan Lesniak said.
The Heyward Performance Center at Peachtree Ridge High School is named for the Heyward family, shown in this photo.
The Peachtree Ridge School Council proposed the naming idea to GCPS officials, and cited the monetary donation from the Heyward family — which it called the “largest gift in the history of Peachtree Ridge High School” — in its recommendation letter. The donation funded the entire interior of the building, including workout equipment.
“Her donation will equip the building in its entirety,” Wilbanks said.
Four of Charlotte Heyward’s children have played a variety of sports for Peachtree Ridge, including Cameron Heyward, now with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cameron, a Pro Bowl defensive end and two-time Steelers NFL Man of the Year, played on the Lions’ state championship football team in 2006 and also played basketball in high school. Corey Heyward was a Peachtree Ridge basketball player who played the sport at Georgia Tech, Connor Heyward is a football player for Michigan State (and also was a Peachtree Ridge basketball player) and Meagan Henderson was on the Lions’ track and field team before competing at the college level for Elon. The Heyward boys are sons of the late NFL running back, Craig “Iron Head” Heyward.
Charlotte Heyward was excited about the vision of the new athletic building and wanted to help with the project.
“As we began rolling out plans for the facility, it kind of stuck with (Charlotte), it resonated with her, knowing that the vision was not solely a football facility,” Lesniak said.
The Heyward Performance Center’s centerpiece is its 70 feet long and 40 feet wide artificial turf surface, which will be surrounded by workout equipment like resistance bands on wall hooks, battle ropes, dumbbells, agility ladders, plyometric boxes and more. Head strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Muyres and his staff also get to work with four brand-new TANK sleds like the ones used by the Steelers. They are sleds on wheels with a built-in braking system that allows for changing resistance with the click of a button, rather than having to add or remove weights onto a manual sled. The TANK sleds can be used indoors or outdoors.
“There’s a lot of stuff that is really going to help all our kids,” Lesniak said.
Curt Yeomans contributed to this report.