Eldridge and Navaretta Scholarship Endowment
1982 Men's Soccer team
TypeScholarship / Fellowship
Value$Scholarship will be endowed and awarded when it reaches a minimum of $25,000.
PurposeTo support undergraduate scholar-athletes, specifically for the Men's Soccer team. (GF000490)
Recipients will be chosen by a three member selection committee, made up by the university's Athletic Director, Head Soccer Coach, and Assistant Soccer Coach. The recipient shall be a male soccer player at Florida Institute of Technology who is a full-time student in good academic standing with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
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1976 FIT-JBC Men's Soccer team
J. Michael Eldridge Personal Biography Mike was born in Mt Airy, NC in 1949. He graduated from North Surry HS and was a multisport athlete. He earned a BS in 1972 and an MA in 1973 from Appalachian State University, where he played soccer on ASU’s first Southern Conference championship team. He was also an assistant coach there during his graduate work. Mike began his teaching and coaching career in 1974 in Florida through the Brevard County Public School system. He married Sherry Greene Eldridge late that same year, and he taught school and also coached at Melbourne High School until he was hired as the head soccer coach at Florida Institute of Technology.
He became an USSF Nationally Certified Soccer Coach and went on to coach there from 1974 until May of 1983. Mike was elected President of the Florida Intercollegiate Soccer Coaches Association in 1978 and again in 1981. Mike embraced a team made up of many international players from all over the world and the US. His win/loss record of 89-43-22 was achieved with very little scholarship money. His teams from 1978 thru 1982 were annually ranked in the top 5 in the NCAA Division II South Region. His team achieved 3rd place in the University of Central Florida Bowl in 1977; 2 nd place in the 1978 Pepsi Cola Invitational and 1st place each successive year thru 1981; 3rd place in the 1980 Methodist College Invitational tournament and 1st place in 1981 and 1982 consecutively. Mike continues to be very proud of all those athletes who worked so diligently to achieve these accolades. He is even more proud of the men they have become outside the sport. Mike began to work in the Financial Services arena part time with Fidelity Union Life in 1980, while continuing to coach at FIT. He became extremely successful and nationally recognized in the industry. After the birth of his daughter, Ashley, and with a heavy heart, Mike made the difficult decision to leave Melbourne and his coaching position at FIT to pursue his Financial Services career. His son, Paul, was born in 1986, and Mike passed his love of soccer on to a new generation. He coached Paul’s club teams with an over-all record of 57-20-6, until Paul reached the Olympic Development team in NC.
Paul played in college and two years professionally, so soccer was a huge part of Mike’s family life In 1984, Mike began a very long career with IDS Financial Services. In 1992, while working in Minneapolis with a team of 30 advisors and staff to redesign and rebrand the company, he simultaneously earned a Certified Financial Planning degree through the College of Financial Planning and continued to build his Financial Planning practice in Boone, NC. IDS became American Express Financial Services as a result of the Design Team’s efforts over a 3 year process. The company continued to evolve as Ameriprise Financial Services. Mike retired in 2015 as a Platinum Financial Planner, after a 31 year career with the company. His 54 year history of refereeing continues for high school, middle school and collegiate games in Wilmington where he and Sherry have retired. His love of the game is still a big part of his life.
Peter Navaretta Personal Biography
Peter was born in Brooklyn, New York with soccer boots on his feet. He played soccer from a very young age in school and recreational programs. His father died when he was a teenager but luckily his soccer coach was there to support him and guide him to apply to colleges to play the sport that he loved.
He received an athletic scholarship at Ithaca College where he received numerous awards and recognitions as an athlete in three sports including soccer. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he moved to Washington DC employed by Ogden Corporation. The soccer athlete in him led him to the British Lions Soccer Club. He played defense for this multi-national amateur club which won the United States National Amateur Cup in 1969. The team received their awards at the British Embassy presented by tennis professional, Arthur Ashe.
In 1971 Florida Institute of Technology opened a campus in Cocoa Beach/Port Canaveral. Peter held the position of Director of Student Affairs. He was impressed with the curriculum and philosophy of the school but realized something was missing...an athletic program. So with nothing more than a thought and feeling of confidence he planned and formed a soccer team. This campus, its programs, faculty, and students including the soccer team relocated to Jensen Beach Florida. FIT had purchased the St. Joseph's College campus transforming it to Florida Institute of Technology Jensen Beach Campus.
It was here in Jensen Beach where soccer exploded under the guidance of Coach Navaretta. His team of players from around the world including Africa, France, Kuwait, Columbia, and Mexico held clinics for the area youth players which in turn inspired the creation of local youth programs including Stuart Youth Soccer Club. Upon leaving FIT he started the boys and girls soccer program at Martin County High School. The successful programs started in Martin County by Coach Navaretta trickled down to Palm Beach County and to St. Lucie County to the north. But he gives credit to the players at the small Jensen Beach FIT campus who were the true proponents of the sport of soccer.
Peter's career took a turn in 1983 when he accepted a Financial Advisor position at E.F. Hutton. Forty years later he continues to work at Oppenheimer & Co. Peter hopes this endowment will serve as a "steppingstone" to a male soccer athlete to help further his education while enjoying his soccer experience at FIT. Soccer will always be in his heart and soul, and he is grateful to all the players he has had the opportunity to coach.