Plans to recognize the late Jeff Sommer started in early August with an orange blossom tree planted in the center of the Estero High campus.
The dedications for the 58-year-old Estero High athletic director, cross country and track coach who died May 2 in Jacksonville while leading the Wildcats girls’ 3,200-meter relay team to a state championship will continue next month.
On September 5, the village of Estero and its mayor, Nick Batos, will officially mark the occasion “Jeff Sommer Day” during a proclamation at the school’s annual DDD Cross Country Invitational at Estero Community Park, Estero High athletic director David Burns confirmed.
“It’s a great way to honor him I think and it will help ensure everything that he built lives on,” said Estero cross country coach Ben Pignatone, who was an assistant under Sommer. “It’s a great thing and the kids will appreciate it and remember it for years to come.
Estero High is also working toward a plan to dedicate the school’s stadium and the complex around it in honor of Sommer, who taught and coached for nearly four decades in the county. The Lee County School Board has not approved the plan yet, as it will need to pass a naming rights policy.
“You have to go through all the cautions and all the correction documentations,” Burns said.
Burns, the former Fort Myers athletic director hired in June to replace Sommer, said there were many ideas to keep the former athletic director’s legacy alive.
“I think it was the general consensus that it was something we should do,” Burns said. “From talking to the people close to him, we came up with a consensus of what needed to be done and make sure every year that event is held with him in mind.”
There are 39 teams registered for the DDD Cross Country Invitational, which is named after Sommer’s coaching mantra of the 3Ds — Dedication, Discipline and Desire.