There are moments where words will never tell the true story.
Such is the case today, as the news of the passing of Anthony LaRezza shuttered through. The news came with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
Anthony’s faith had guided him, as he worked through some health issues. He never wavered, instead he did what he loved most, which was coaching high school softball.
Immaculate Heart Academy was Anthony’s stomping grounds, as he guided that program to greatness, including the 2015 NJSIAA, Non-Public A championship, with a team of all underclassmen.
There was that moment, when the winning run scored in the state final, at Kean University, where Anthony jumped up and down in pure joy, as IHA won, 1-0, in extra innings. Anthony had coached state champions before, but this team was special. And has he celebrated with the kids, on the field, drenched in Gatorade, he was quick to remind those kids that 2016 would be just as good.
I’ve written about him for years, on this blog. We had more fun at his tournaments than one deserved to have. We talked about sports trivia, movie trivia, horse racing, and anything else that popped up. But when it came to his players, man, that was special.
Anthony and I had just spoken recently. He called to let me know that he would be going through some treatments, but that he and I would be meeting up soon, at Rutts Hut, for some rippers. Anthony loved that place.
I had taken him to Rutts, a few days after the state championship last spring, to celebrate.
Pictures will tell a much better story of Anthony. This was a fun-loving guy, but also a devoted parent. He was the constant whirlwind.
But he always had time to say hello. He always made sure to congratulate an opposing team, win, or lose, on Twitter, after a game.
The last tweet, on Jan. 26, was perfect LaRezza.
On April 30th we play in the Coaches vs Cancer event.
#IHASB will donate 1 dollar for every Retweet to pediatric cancer research. Goal 1000
It was about a softball game, of course, and the ultimate goal to raise money for cancer research. There was always a goal, always a motivation.
I’ll miss this man more than I can ever describe. I’m not quite sure how I can go to a softball game this spring, and watch. However, the last thing Anthony would ever want is for anyone to feel bad.
Anthony LaRezza was so many things. But most of all, he was a man. He stood for decency, integrity and, having a lot of fun.
I still want to call your cell and hear you say ‘hello’. Or just get a text from you.
I always believe God has a better plan. And sometimes, we are faced with surprises when He calls someone home. Anthony always believed that, and I feel somewhat happy in that Anthony will flash that smile again. And one day, we’ll all see each other.
He always loved my horse racing analogies, especially calling Stef Thomas, Affirmed.
And Anthony always got a kick out of my ‘get your popcorn ready’ quote, for a big softball game.
Thank you, pal. I’ll never forget you.