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SRQ DAILY Feb 10, 2024

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"As New College continues its trajectory of growth, our vision is to introduce more athletics opportunities and scholarships for scholar-athletes."

- Richard Corcoran, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  RNC Chair? Gruters Deserves Trump's Consideration
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Joe Gruters couldn’t stay out of party politics long. He’s expected today to win a race for national committeeman, making him one of three Republicans representing the state within the Republican National Committee. he could also grab now for one of the biggest brass rings in politics.

Rumors mounted in the last week that Ronna McDaniel, the current RNC Chair, offered to step down and to let Donald Trump, the likely 2024 presidential nominee, put a confidante in charge of the national party. With Gruters already seeking an RNC position, with Trump’s endorsement no less, he immediately emerged as a possible choice.

He hasn’t tamped down whispers, though he’s made clear he will follow Trump’s lead.

“Whenever you’re even mentioned for something like that it’s pretty spectacular, but at the end of the day the president’s continuing to build his team so we can win in November and I support wherever he goes,” Gruters said.

What’s going for the Sarasota pol? For one, he recently made another run for an RNC officership. In his last weeks as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Gruters ran for national treasurer, though he was always an underdog and ultimately lost. Still, the experience meant he campaigning with many of the RNC members who have a vote.

That said, it’s a presidential year, and there’s ultimately one real voter when picking an RNC Chair. If Trump picks a favorite choice to lead the RNC, that person leads the RNC.  On that front, Gruters can point to years of loyalty to the once-and-future nominee.

In 2016, Gruters became an early voice in Florida politics endorsing Trump, back when he seemed a longshot for the GOP nomination. Then the Republican Party of Sarasota Chair and a candidate for state Representative, Gruters’ biggest claim in state politics at the time had been a willingness to support Rick Scott early in a run for Governor. Like that bet, putting chips on Trump paid off for Gruters, and he delivered results for Trump in return.

Gruters co-chaired the Florida arm of Trump’s campaign. The operation managed to win Florida in the Primary over former Gov. Jeb Bush and sitting Sen. Marco Rubio. Then the nearly unimaginable happened and Trump won Florida in November, essentially sealing his victory over Hillary Clinton.

Two years later, Gov. Ron DeSantis tapped Gruters to head the state party. He did so spectacularly through both the 2020 presidential election, when Florida was one of two states where Trump improved his vote share. Then he helped DeSantis win re-election in 2022. Along the way, he secured Florida Republicans a voter registration advantage over Democrats for the first time in state history.

When another contest of Florida men emerged in the current nomination fight, Gruters became the first state lawmaker to endorse Trump over DeSantis. Since then, DeSantis folded and Trump has the nod all but sewn up.

But this could be a more complicated climb to the top still. First, Gruters previously showed loyalty to McDaniel, so he needs her to step aside before considering the run. It’s also a hard metric to compare Gruters to other contenders like North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley, who still heads a party in a true swing state. Granted, Gruters can lay a realistic claim Florida no longer looks purple thanks to his own hard work. And there may yet be another candidate who emerges.

But sources tell me Gruters, despite a fairly moderate record as a state Senator, enjoyes some enthusiasm from the far-right. Steve Bannon, an influential podcaster, former White House strategist and one-time Sarasota resident (on paper at least), reportedly favors Gruters. And if Trump wants an RNC director he can connect with, it’s a shorter commute from Sarasota to Mar-a-Lago than to North Carolina.

Ultimately, this all comes down to the preference of one of the least predictable figures in modern politics. But if Gruters is given the chance to make his case to Trump, he certainly has one to make.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media. 

Photo courtesy Facebook: Joe Gruters and Donald Trump.

[Higher Education]  A Labor of Love: The Rise of New College Athletics
Richard Corcoran, rcorcoran@ncf.edu

Building the first-ever intercollegiate sports program at New College of Florida goes beyond winning games and championships. It is a lesson in mindset and perseverance, and a labor of love. The energy and enthusiasm surrounding Mighty Banyans athletics are undeniable, as these scholar-athletes bring their all to the field, classroom and campus every single day.

Last Saturday evening, our highly successful Athletics Gala fundraising event brought together over 300 community members who showed unwavering support for what we have achieved in just under a year. The aim of this event was not only to celebrate our growth, but also to raise funds for the continued expansion of our athletics program.

In a remarkably short amount of time, New College has accomplished a lot. We now have six varsity teams taking to the field, and we have been fortunate to recruit coaches and athletes who have heart and are driven by excellence. With the support of our community partners, we have gained access to premier local sports venues such as IMG AcademyManatee County's Premiere Sports Complex and Hal Chasey Gymnasium at State College of Florida, enabling our teams to compete at the highest level.

These accomplishments, achieved with remarkable efficiency, have earned us admission into the prestigious National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Sun Conference. This membership, which begins later this year, is a testament to our commitment and determination.

Just over a week ago, our baseball team made history at Bradenton's legendary LECOM Park. Surrounded by the New College community, they secured the Mighty Banyans' first-ever win. The support and cheers from students were unrelenting, and we’re simply proud of the community we are building.

Our softball team achieved a significant milestone when they hosted the first-ever on-campus sporting event on February 3. The transformation of our east campus into a functional regulation field is also the beginning of our mission to create top-notch facilities and recreational spaces for our students and community. As we continue to refine our Campus Master Plan, providing our athletes with state-of-the-art playing and training facilities on campus will be a top priority.

Behind the scenes, Mariano Jimenez, Jr., our Director of Athletics, has been the driving force behind this transformative journey. Mariano's passion and unwavering faith in our scholar-athletes have been the cornerstone of our success. When he joined New College, he faced a strong challenge, and his vision, perseverance and belief have elevated our sports program to a place no one could have imagined in less than a year. The infectious school spirit and energy he brings have engaged students throughout campus life.

As New College continues its trajectory of growth, our vision is to introduce more athletics opportunities and scholarships for scholar-athletes. Golf, lacrosse and volleyball are already on the horizon for the 2024-2025 season. We are committed to continuously evaluating additional sports to be integrated into our athletics program and we invite you to witness the rise of Mighty Banyans athletics by visiting GoMightyBanyans.com.

We are incredibly proud of our entire community at New College of Florida, and under Mariano's leadership, the scholar-athletes are doing something that has never been done before, embracing the wins and the challenges with unwavering dedication both in the classroom and on the field. Their perseverance and mindset, fueled by Mariano's passion, inspire us all.

Richard Corcoran is president of New College of Florida. 

Photo courtesy New College: The Mighty Banyans' first baseball game.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Theresa Caputo Live, The Experience , April 11, 7:30pm
For more than a decade, Theresa Caputo, known worldwide as the Long Island Medium, and star of the new Lifetime Series Raising Spirits, has touched the lives of millions of fans, comforting supporters when they need it most. Now Sarasota fans will get their chance at healing when the acclaimed medium and beloved personality appears live at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Thursday, April 11 at 7:30pm. Known for her unique ability to communicate with those who have passed on, Theresa Caputo Live: The Experience brings Theresa face-to-face with her fans as Spirit guides her through the audience. A full-stage video display ensures that everyone in the theater has an up-close experience regardless of seat location. Through personal life stories, candid humor, and intimate details about her gift to communicate with those who have passed, the beloved television personality and best-selling author delivers healing messages to her audience, reassuring them with the revelation that their deceased loved ones are still with them, just in a different way. Recognized as one of the most renowned mediums for over 20 years, Theresa Caputo Live: The Experience is an awe-inspiring event you won’t want to miss. Learn more about Theresa at www.theresacaputo.com. Tickets start at $64.23 and can be purchased at www.VanWezel.org, by calling the box office at 941-263-6799 or by visiting the box office. Pre-show dining is available through Mattison’s at the Van Wezel which is located inside the theatre. Reservations can be made on VanWezel.org or through the box office.
[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Wild About Nature Festival , April 6, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Join us for a day of fun and outdoor adventure at the Wild About Nature Festival on Saturday, April 6, 2024 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Reconnect with the great outdoors and help foster a love of nature in the next generation as you spend a day in the sun on the beautiful shores of Little Sarasota Bay at Bay Preserve. Families of all ages are encouraged to take part in this fun-filled day of nature-based education and exploration. The wide variety of activities includes dip-netting, face painting, hula-hoop lessons, crafts, games, and more. There will be live music and food trucks making this a guaranteed good time. This is a FREE family festival open to all. Registration is not required. The event will take place at our Bay Preserve headquarters located at 400 Palmetto Ave. in Osprey. For more information, visit conservationfoundation.com.
[SOON]  GALA: 2024 Transformation Gala , March 22, 5-10pm
The Sarasota Performing Arts Foundation proudly announces the return of the 2024 Transformation Gala on Friday, March 22, 2024 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Featuring Kristin Chenoweth, New York Times best-selling author and Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and singer, the 2024 Transformation Gala promises an incredible evening dedicated to experiencing the transformative power of the arts. Set along the beautiful waterfront of Sarasota Bay, the 22nd annual event supports the PAFs vision for a new Performing Arts Center and its transformative arts education work that touches the lives of more than 33,000 educators, military families, and students. The night begins with a bayside cocktail celebration and exceptional dining catered by Michael’s on East, followed by a thrilling concert featuring Tony Award-winning artist Kristin Chenoweth in the Van Wezel Hall. The celebration concludes with a rocking private afterparty in the grand foyer. Proceeds from the gala help to fund PAF educational programs, support our partnered educational programs at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, contribute to the planning of the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center, and solidify the future of the arts in Sarasota. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit sarasotaperformingartsfoundation.org.
[SOON]  MUSIC: Rick Springfield Returns to The Van Wezel , March 13, 7:30pm

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is excited to welcome Rick Springfield back to Sarasota on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased at VanWezel.org, by calling the box office at 941-263-6799 or by visiting the box office Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Groups of 10 or more should contact 941-263-6726.

[SOON]  GALA: ALSO Youth Brunch , March 3, 11am-2pm

Join us for a brunch benefitting ALSO Youth, a local non-profit organization serving the LGBTQ youth community in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, at Tsunami Sushi and Hibachi on Sunday, March 3rd, 2024. Enjoy incredible food courtesy of Tsunami Sushi and Hibachi, a unique auction, and live music during this event supporting our mission to empower LGBTQ youth and allies and create inclusive communities. Learn more and purchase tickets at alsoyouth.org.

[SOON]  GALA: Polo for Brain Health , February 25, 11:30am-3pm

Join us for the inaugural Polo for Brain Health event by The Roskamp Institute. Watch the exciting Polo match from the club side pavilion or stroll along the sideline and get up close and personal to the action and thundering of hooves. Enjoy lunch and a silent auction of more than fifty must-have items. At half-time, you are invited to participate in the tradition of stomping the divots, or stepping on the turf upturned by the horses and take a carriage ride on the Polo field. The event concludes with the winning team awards ceremony. Advance tickets $100. After 2/11 tickets $125. Proceeds benefit The Roskamp Institute’s research programs on: Alzheimers Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury, Red Tide, Gulf War Illness, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Learn more and purchase tickets at roskampinstitute.org.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Divine Felines, Author Talk and Book Signing , February 22, 6pm

Cat lovers rejoice in celebrating Neko no Hi, or Cat Day in Japan. Join Dr. Rhiannon Paget, Curator of Asian Art, as she discusses her newest book, Divine Felines: The Cat in Japanese Art. This talk will take place in the John M. McKay Visitors Pavilion where Dr. Paget will discuss the feline image and presence in over 300 years of Japanese art. Following the illustrated lecture, Dr. Paget will sign copies of Divine Felines: The Cat in Japanese Art, available for purchase in the Museum Store. This event is free and advanced registration is recommended. A limited number of seats will be reserved for ticket holders. Learn more and register at ringling.org.

[SOON]  FOOD: Cooking for Wishes , February 22, 6pm
Save the date for the 14th Annual Cooking for Wishes 2024, presented by Exceptional Dentistry of Sarasota. The event features an interactive cooking dinner where guests at each table will prepare a one-of-a-kind 4-course meal led by Chef Jamil Pineda and Phil Mancini of Michaels on East. Guests will also enjoy specially-selected wines curated by Michael Klauber. The dinner and Wizard of Oz-themed gala will feature an exciting raffle and Live Auction for a festive evening of cooking, fun, and fundraising. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.cookingforwishes.com.
[SOON]  THEATER: A Night in November , February 21 – March 15, Various times
One of the most highly acclaimed Irish comedies, A Night in November is a hard and humorous look at The Troubles in Northern Ireland during the 1990s. The play follows Kenneth McCallister, an opinionated government clerk who, barely, tolerates his wife, his in-laws, and his Catholic boss. On one fateful night in Belfast, as the Republic of Ireland qualifies against Northern Ireland for the World Cup, Kenneth finds himself watching the fanatical hatred of the crowd rather than the match, an event that profoundly changes his life. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit floridastudiotheatre.org.
[SOON]  SEMINAR: You Are Worthy Life Enrichment Workshop , February 15 – April 11, 6-8pm
The Womens Resource Center presents You Are Worthy, an eight-week series moderated by Chris Florand and Denise Whalin. This in-person series is part of the Womens Resource Center’s life enrichment programs and helps participants improve self-confidence, boundary-setting, and negotiation skills. No program the week of March 14. The program is $25 for all sessions and takes place at WRCs Sarasota office at 340 S. Tuttle Ave. To register, please call 941-256-9721 or visit mywrc.org/youareworthy.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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