News | December 23, 2021

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Soccer lovers fund much-needed new turf for FGCU fields

Larry Pickering and his wife, Susanne, are Missouri transplants who love Eagles athletics.

Fall 2021 Fall issue of FGCU360It began when they purchased season tickets for men’s and women’s basketball. Then they started sponsoring academic scholarships for the student-athletes.

“Then I got more involved,” Pickering said. “I joined the athletic board four years ago, then the executive committee.”

The Pickerings started sponsoring soccer scholarships. “We have six grandchildren and two are really good soccer players,” he said. “They got us interested so we watch some soccer. I’m always amazed at what fantastic athletes they are.”

The couple have funded several men’s soccer scholarships. “One of the players has just gone pro and he still stays in touch,” Pickering said.

Pickering said he and his wife have also become good friends with men’s soccer coach Jesse Cormier and his wife, Amy.

So, when Cormier told him the soccer field was in bad shape and in dire need of significant upgrades to prevent further injuries to the student-athletes, Pickering stepped up. Through the family’s foundation, they donated the funds needed to rework the field, adding sand topped with new turf.

Besides being safer, “the new turf requires about 39 percent less water,” Pickering said, “and should change our ability to recruit good players.”

Cormier says the athletics department is extremely grateful for the Pickerings’ friendship.

“What Larry and Susanne give FGCU goes far beyond the financial support,” Cormier said. “They’re amazing people first. Their selfless nature, character, wisdom, generosity and support of our campus community, athletic department and our soccer programs fuels us all and has had a dramatic impact on the success of our institution.”

In honor of the gift, the teams now play on Pickering Field at the FGCU Soccer Complex.

“We are so thankful for the amazing generosity of Larry and Susanne in making this project come to life and for their overall support of the university and athletics,” said women’s soccer head coach Jim Blankenship. “The Pickerings’ investment in FGCU soccer not only benefits our current team, but will impact future generations of young men and women as well. We hope to make them proud and are truly honored and humbled to play our home contests at Pickering Field.”

Pickering is enjoying watching the teams play on the new turf. ”It gives us a lot of pride to see the nice field that is helping to minimize injuries,” he said.