LAKELAND – Florida Southern College broke ground on Nov. 4 on a multi-million dollar renovation to the Barnett Athletic Complex that will give the College state-of-the-art facilities for softball, soccer and lacrosse.
The renovation will include construction of a softball stadium on the southwest corner of the existing Barnett Field; construction of a dual-purpose soccer/lacrosse field, air-conditioned press boxes, electronic scoreboards, natural turf with irrigation systems, and stadium lighting. In addition, restrooms, a concession stand between the fields, almost 90 parking spaces, and permanent fencing with three admission gates will be added to the complex.
Florida Southern College President, Dr. Anne Kerr, also announced that the new softball stadium will be named in honor of longtime Moccasin softball coach, Chris Bellotto, who is in her 35th season at the College with 1,266 career victories. Bellotto reached the pinnacle of success in 1993, leading the Moccasins to the NCAA Division II National Championship. Her career wins is third most all-time in the Division II.
"I am honored and humbled to have the softball field named for me," said Bellotto. "I am grateful to all of the donors who have supported this important initiative for our championship athletic program."
Dr. Robert L. Fryer, Jr., Chair of the FSC Board of Trustees and a former Moccasin athlete said "I thank everyone who has participated in this exciting and important project to create a world-class athletic facility for our nationally renowned athletics program."
In addition to the Chris Bellotto Field, the following facilities were made possible thanks to the genorsity of numerous donors: the soccer and lacrosse grandstand (Chuck and Connie Bovay); Mocs' Championship Blvd. (Dr. Fryer); softball home dugout (Peter Golotko); and the soccer/lacrosse press box (Tom and Sally Petcoff). Thanks to an anonymous donor, the softball press box will be named for Lois Webb, longtime FSC volleyball coach and former FSC director of athletics.
Other donors in support of the Barnett Athletic Complex include Ann and Ward Edwards, Hal and Sylvia Smeltzly; John Rodda of Rodda Construction; Dan Fowler of Lunz, Prebor and Fowler Architects, and two other anonymous donors.
Construction will begin on the complex in January and is expected to be completed in time for the fall 2017 season.
Originally built as a soccer field in 1954 and known as L.N. Pipkin Field, a softball field was added about 1980. Lights were added in 1990, and the complex was renamed for Mr. Hoyt W. Barnett, a longtime supporter of the FSC Department of Athletics.
The women's lacrosse team is the defending NCAA Division II national champion, even though the program began just six years ago under Head Coach Kara Reber. FSC was the first women's lacrosse program outside the Northeast to win a national title.
The men's and women's lacrosse teams have been playing at Bryant Stadium, north of downtown Lakeland. The improved complex will allow the College to host lacrosse games on campus, making it easier for students to support those teams.
The athletic program at FSC ranks in the top five in NCAA Division II, with 29 national championships.