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Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic returns to Lee County Feb. 26 – March 28

Baseball and softball players from around the U.S. will converge in Lee County Feb. 26 through March 28 for the 26th Annual Lee County Parks & Recreation Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic. The event offers men’s and women’s NCAA Division III baseball and softball teams, as well as NAIA softball teams, an opportunity to participate in “spring break” tournaments before their seasons begin. An estimated 500 games will be played with teams primarily from the Midwest and Northeast. Notables include those from Olivet College, Johns Hopkins University, Kenyon College and the College of Wooster. Games are played at CenturyLink Sports Complex, Lee County Player Development Complex, North Collier Regional Park and Terry Park Sports Complex. Admission to the games is free for spectators.

Last year’s Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic drew more than 4,400 sports visitors to Lee County, generating roughly 6,600 hotel room nights and approximately $2.8 million in direct spending.

“Lee County Parks & Recreation’s Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic is an event that offers men’s and women’s NCAA Division III baseball and softball teams an opportunity to participate in regular season games during their respective spring breaks from their cold weather-climate states,” said Dana Kasler, Director of Lee County Parks & Recreation. “Each year, the Cusic draws return visits from former players who come back to Fort Myers to vacation. The weather is good, the level of play is outstanding, and many tourists, snowbirds and residents can find their alma mater from up north on our schedule of play.”

The tournament is named for Gene Cusic of Aurora, Ill., who was a teacher, coach, principal, superintendent and administrator in Illinois schools. He also taught a year in Lima, Peru and served as Principal of the Oxford Summer School for the American Institute for Foreign Study. He retired to Fort Myers in 1988 and joined the Lee County Parks & Recreation staff as the athletic program manager. He established the Collegiate Classic in 1990 with only 11 teams. The event took off and, at one point, boasted 300 teams of men’s baseball and women’s fast-pitch softball. It became so popular that as many teams that signed up were also turned away. Cusic died in 1995, but the event remains a mainstay on Lee County sports calendars.

For the complete game schedule, or for more information, please visit www.LeeGov.com/parks/athletics/cusic.

Lee County Sports Development was created in 2003 to meet the growing demand for sports development in Lee County, and is recognized by the Florida Sports Foundation as one of the state’s 25 Regional Sports Commissions. The Lee County Sports Development office leads the recruitment and implementation of amateur and professional sports events and activities in Lee County, with the goal of providing economic impact to Lee County. Through local partnerships with Lee County Parks & Recreation and others, the Lee County Sports Development office provides services designed to address the needs of local, national and international sports entities including housing, access to venues, event management, transportation assistance, event promotion, marketing and local sponsorship opportunities. For more information, call 239-533-5273 or visit www.leegov.com/sports.

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