To the Editor:
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “coach” as “An instructor or trainer of athletes.” That definition may be true, but Coach Don Mezzanotte was much more than that.
He was a man of integrity, compassion, discipline, hard work and fairness. I know first hand what an outstanding stand-up man he was, as he was my football and baseball coach at Pilgrim High from 1963-1966.
Those were great years with many cherished memories. During those three years, Coach Mezz was a no-nonsense coach who demanded commitment, dedication and perfection. We, as his players, totally responded with three Division Class-A titles in 1964, 1965 and 1966. Coach had a classic motivational saying: “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” The many titles and state championships he had proved that very statement.
More importantly, on a personal note, I would not have achieved All-State Catcher in 1966 if it wasn’t for Coach motivating me on and off the field and in the classroom. His personal interest in making me a better ballplayer was only part of the equation with me. Through baseball, football and hockey, my confidence, self-esteem and work ethic inspired by Coach translated for me in the classroom, too.
Now 72 years old, I look back on those years and realize Coach Mezz helped change my life and made me the man I am today. Now retired and having been inspired to be a teacher, coach athletic director and administrator in the Warwick Schools for 32 years, I owe a tremendous amount to Coach Don Mezzanotte.
He always said, “Next to your mom and dad, it’s usually a coach or teacher who helps influence your life.”
Thanks, Coach, you were so right. God bless and rest in peace.
Pilgrim High School Class of 1966