Phil Delgado’s coaching style is wearing his emotions on his sleeve. His passion for the game and love of teaching his players the proper way to play consumes him.
That same passion is also directed to his family and friends. And when someone he loves has departed this life, that emotion is evident for all to see.
So, when news of Anthony LaRezza’s passing became known, Delgado, the second-year head softball coach at Montclair High School, was quick to credit a man who did so much for his professional career.
“Keep your head up,” said Delgado, to me. “We lost a great one today. Anthony was my guru, in many avenues of life.”
Mike DiPiano, the head girls soccer and wrestling coach at Nutley High, as well as that school’s assistant softball coach, also recalled a good experience with LaRezza.
“My first game as a softball coach was against Ridgewood, at the IHA tournament,” said DiPiano. “Anthony knew me and my family, growing up. He treated me like a seasoned vet, from that first softball game. He sat behind our bench when we went to the (2010) state final, and cheered so hard for us to win. He wanted us to win so bad. He was such a genuine guy.”
I received a wonderful note from ‘Tim‘, who recalled LaRezza’s class and love of the game
“My girls, Lyndsay and Jessica, never had the honor to play for Anthony,” he said. “They were always in the other dugout. However, their five years of travel ball and high school ball in New Jersey would not have been as memorable without meeting and becoming friends with Anthony. Win or lose, we would always look forward to our talks and our shared laughter with Anthony! He was a great guy, who cared about his girls and the world of softball.
“He will be missed by all.”
Kaitlin wrote, “A very sad day for the softball community.”
Ed Bates wrote, “Hard to believe you no longer with us, and all why why this have to happen you the best coach there was.”
Gianna wrote, “RIP to the best coach I’ve ever had. You inspired and pushed me to the player I am today. we love you& miss u Ant.”
The Verona High School softball team tweeted, “Thoughts are with the LaRezza family, IHA, & all the players along the way.”
Just another, in a long line of those who are saddened this night, by the loss of a legend.