Allen LaRezza will admit he didn’t attend Immaculate Heart Academy softball games when his younger brother, Anthony, was the team’s head coach.
“Honestly, Anthony never said a lot about his coaching,” said Allen of his late brother. “But as I got to know the IHA kids this year, I can see how much Anthony meant to them. Wow, it’s really something special.”
Allen LaRezza never expected to refer to his little brother in a past tense, but Anthony’s sudden passing on Feb. 4, 2016, has left his family, as well as the extended IHA family, deeply affected.
On the field, the Blue Eagles have looked good. After playing well in the March scrimmages, head coach Diana Fasano’s team won its opener, on April 1, defeating Paramus Catholic, 2-1.
IHA was scheduled to play its home opener, against DePaul Catholic, on April 4, but the game was postponed because of rain. The teams will now meet on April 6, and Allen LaRezza, along with his brother, Joe, will throw out the first pitch in what will assuredly be a memorable moment.
Anthony’s brothers celebrated Ed Bates’ birthday in March. Joseph LaRezza (far left) and Allen (second from right) are expected to be on hand when IHA plays its home opener on April 6, to throw out the first pitch.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Allen. “It will be fun to see the kids play. You know, growing up, at home, Anthony was the little brother that we’d all send to the store. None of us really knew what kind of coach he was. I guess you can say he was a legend. I’m not sure that’s the right word, but it sure seems that way.”
Yes, Allen, Anthony certainly was a legend on the softball field.
Tomorrow’s game will be the start of what will be a busy week for the Blue Eagles. The team is also preparing for this weekend, when the annual IHA Invitational, which has been renamed in Anthony LaRezza’s honor and memory, will take place on the IHA campus, on April 9 and 10.
Here are the schedule of games, thanks to head coach Diana Fasano.
Games on Saturday, April 9:
IHA VS. MOORE CATHOLIC (NY) at 9 a.m.
SADDLE BROOK VS. RARITAN at 11 a.m.
ST. JOSEPH (CT) VS. NOTRE DAME at 1 p.m.
BUTLER VS. NOTRE DAME at 3 p.m.
Games on Sunday, April 10:
IHA VS. IMMACULATA at 9 a.m.
ST. JOHN VIANNEY VS. ROBBINSVILLE at 11 a.m.
CARAVEL ACADEMY (DE) VS. WEST ESSEX at 1 p.m.
NEWARK ACADEMY VS. JEFFERSON at 3 p.m.
Newark Academy is coached by one of Anthony’s closest friends, Sergio Rodriguez, so it will assuredly be an emotional, but hopefully, a happy time during the two days of the Anthony LaRezza Invitational, because Anthony always enjoyed this event.
The IHA community would also like to let friends and fans of Anthony to know that in the beloved coach’s name, they can use your backing in helping the team support the Tackle Kids Cancer campaign. It’s a chance to raise awareness and support the fight against pediatric cancer, the number one cause of death, by disease, among children in the United States.
Together with the NFL’s New York Giants, IHA will support the Children’s Cancer Institute, at Hackensack University Medial Center, to help raise funds for research and programs through the Tackle Kids Cancer campaign.
There is much more information about donating by clicking on this link, for details, and the IHA softball program would be greatly appreciative for your support.
The goal has been raised to $5,000.00, and thus far, over $1,000.00 has been raised.
Fasano noted that the fundraiser should be ongoing, with some IHA alumni coming up with ideas to raise funds, based on team victories this season.