Gary Israel

I am sure there are many Estero residents who have mentored students, colleagues and others. After all, Estero is a very compassionate and giving community! This month, we are putting the spotlight on two outstanding members of our community who inspire, encourage and support leadership development.

When looking up the word “mentor” in the dictionary, I am amazed that there isn’t a photo of Coach Karl Smesko in the margins! The founding coach of the Florida Gulf Coast University Women’s Basketball team is simply the most successful and most prepared coach in women’s basketball, with the highest winning percentage in Division I history, putting FGCU ahead of Tennessee, UConn and Stanford and making FGCU the only school to have a winning percentage over 80 percent.

However, our cover story is NOT about his successes on the court at Alico Arena – it’s about the influence Coach Smesko has had on the coaching careers of his former players. In the style of Paul Harvey, we invite you to enjoy “The Rest of the Story.”

Our second Estero mentor spotlight goes to Grandezza resident Jim Shields, who graciously gives of his time, treasure and talents for the educational benefits of local youth. While Jim’s modesty makes him prefer not to be in the spotlight, it is his leadership that’s behind many efforts to increase educational opportunities for Estero students.

Jim’s latest commitment to education in the community is a brand-new version of his decades-old “Breaking Par at Grandezza” golf fundraiser and gala. Supported by Engage Estero (formerly ECCL), this event is a collaboration with the newly founded nonprofit LEAD Estero – standing for Leadership Enrichment and Development. Check out this month’s “Happenings” page and consider participating in either the Saturday, April 1, golf tournaments or the Sunday evening gala in support of LEAD Estero.

Our Village Connection this month describes two major state and county road widening projects slated to accommodate the continued growth in our area.

And finally, Real Seafood Co. is our big “catch” in local dining this month, offering premium fresh fish and seafood from the waters of New England, Nova Scotia, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Enjoy reading about our favorites, as they may become some of yours, too!


Until next month, remember to…

Enjoy the Good Life: Estero Life!!


Gary Israel, President & Publisher 

Estero Life Magazine


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