Former Kent State soccer player’s gift will help pave the way for KSU soccer field renovations

Lance Lysowski

Alumnus played for Flashes in the sixties

The Kent State soccer team received a unique gift last week in the form of a donation from Kent State alumnus Ron Zoeller, a letter winner for the Flashes’ men’s soccer program in the 1960s. Soccer provided the basis to begin renovations of the Kent State Soccer Field.

The Kent State soccer team will continue Mid-American Conference play this weekend when they host Northern Illinois (4-6-2, 0-2-2) at 4 p.m. today and Western Michigan (4-5-1, 2-2) at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Kent State Soccer Field.

The Flashes (6-5, 2-2) will have a favorable matchup on Friday with the visiting Huskies who have gone winless in their last four games, all of which were conference games. Northern Illinois has struggled in their opponent’s offensive third, as they have been shutout seven times this season and are currently sitting near the bottom in the conference standings.

Sunday’s game against Western Michigan brings a different challenge to the Flashes with offensive potential and defensive pressure. The Broncos are strong defensively but have lost three of their last five contests. Western Michigan is in the middle of the pack in the conference in every major offensive statistic.

Kent State is coming off a tough road trip last weekend where the Flashes were shutout in both contests. The Flashes will look to regain the energy and overall success they displayed in their first two MAC games, when Kent State came out on top over Ball State and Miami in shutout victories.

“Playing soccer at Kent State and participating in numerous other school activities helped prepare me for future leadership responsibilities in the business world,” Zoeller said in a press release. “I am pleased to be able to contribute back to the university and look forward to the continued success of the women’s soccer program.”

Zoeller’s gift of $125,000 will serve as the basis for the project, which has a projected total of $400,000. The upgrades will include new grandstands, an esplanade entrance, new fencing around the facility and a press box above the stands. The project is scheduled to be completed for the start of the 2010 season.

“There’s no doubt it’s the most significant donation the women’s program has ever received,” said Matthew Geis, associate athletic director and director for athletic advancement. “It’s going to lead the way for the team into the future and give them a new facility to play in.”

The renovations to the complex will follow other major upgrades to Dix Stadium and the M.A.C. Building. Geis said the donations that sparked these projects have benefited the recruitment of not only student athletes but students in general.



Where: Kent State Soccer Field

When: Today, 4 p.m.

“It’s a great recruiting tool for students and student-athletes alike,” Geis said. “They base their decision on how the campus looks, and upgrades like these are great for the university.”

The athletic department raises an estimated $2 to $2.5 million annually for scholarships and renovations like the one to the soccer field. Geis said these donations from alumni and outside sources are due to the university’s positive impact on these groups and individuals.

“The reason for those who give back is because the university had a significant impact on them,” Geis said. “They usually want to make a difference or make an impact.”

Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said Zoeller’s donation is a tremendous gift and will lift the program into the future with help in recruitment and an overall positive atmosphere.

“Mr. Zoeller has been wonderful to our program, and this just solidifies his caring for our program, and it’s going to lift us into the future,” Marinaro said. “As you’re showing people around it shows the backing the school is putting forth to our program.”

Senior defender Beth Diederich said the team is excited for what a new facility brings to the program.

“It’s an extremely generous donation, and I know it boosts the confidence in our team that somebody was confident enough to have faith in us and donate that to us,” Diederich said. “I won’t be here to enjoy it, but I know the girls here are really excited about it.”

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].