This past weekend, former Johnston basketball player and current URI student Cam Iasimone premiered his self-made documentary called, “Coach” in honor of the late Dan Mazzulla, who passed …
This past weekend, former Johnston basketball player and current URI student Cam Iasimone premiered his self-made documentary called, “Coach” in honor of the late Dan Mazzulla, who passed away in 2020 after a battle with brain cancer.
Mazzulla is a legend in the Rhode Island basketball community, enjoying hall of fame careers for both the Panthers and Bryant as a player and became arguably the best coach in Johnston High School history.
The documentary covered his early playing days all the way until the years just before his passing. The project received rave reviews from those in attendance and I think that it is important to bring more stories like these to the community.
This is special because there are two stories within one. Mazzulla gets his due after passing away during the time of the pandemic, when everything was somewhat of a whirlwind. The other story is that a young kid found success in making a passion project dedicated to his former coach. It is a feel good story on a tough topic.
Again, although there was plenty of coverage and praise for Mazzulla’s career at the time of his passing, it all happened rather quickly. Now that the dust has kind of settled and our lives have returned to almost normal, this film came out at a great time and it is amazing to see the community gather to celebrate the late coach.
I also think there is an inspirational aspect to this whole thing as well. It shows that you don’t need to be a big-time filmmaker to create something special, impressive, and resonates within the community. Iasimone is clearly on his way to a successful career and to put together a project this extraordinary at such a young age, it is outstanding and something that will be remembered for years to come.
For high school and college kids with big dreams and aspirations, let this be a reminder that you do not have to wait until your diploma is in your hand to get your career started. You are always better off starting a step early than a step late, and age does not matter if you put your heart into what you are doing. It will radiate just as the passion did in Iasimone’s piece, which by the way, is available online.
So here’s a shout out to Iasimone for a job well done. I hope he continues to create more content because he clearly has a knack for it. To the Mazzulla family, I’m thrilled to see you have another piece to remember and to celebrate regarding your legendary name.
The next topic I wanted to touch on regards the “student” aspect of student-athletes.
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League recently unveiled their nominees for student-athletes of the year for kids that excelled both on the field and in the classroom. It’s always important to remember the importance of succeeding in class, and in sports, oftentimes we forget about that, myself included.
At the end of every season, we always rush to see the players the make the all-state teams and get the accolades for their athletic performance. Again, I will admit, I am right there in the front of the pack to check it out.
But there is also academic all-state among other awards that put an emphasis on the players’ work in school which can’t be ignored.
Of course, the biggest reason why the “student” aspect is paramount is because we want these kids to receive a proper education that will serve them well in the future, regardless of what that may hold.
When it comes back around to sports, if there are students that are looking to earn scholarships or even just to suit up at all in college, they’re going to have to keep their grades in check.
College scouts and recruits oftentimes gather their intel on athletes via the media, social media outlets and whatnot. These academic awards are rarely highlighted by the media. The most they’ll get is just being included at the bottom of the press release.
Let’s make it a common practice to include and emphasize the academic portions of these all-state teams and accolades. It’s easy to forget how important that part is, but these kids have a tough job each day. I always say, there are few jobs as tough as being a student-athlete. Class, practice, games, part-time jobs, there’s a lot on these kids’ plates on a daily basis.
So, starting now, let’s give a shoutout to some of the kids that were nominated for the RIIL’s student-athletes of the year. From our coverage area, they included: Alex Morin (Hendricken); Norah Flinn (Cranston East); Brady Kitterick (Cranston East); Marcus Chung (Cranston West); Alessandra Messina (Cranston West); Josephine Olagundoye (Johnston); Derek Salvatore (Johnston); Elizabeth Cavanagh (Pilgrim); Ethan Pezzullo (Pilgrim); Ryan Dacey (Toll Gate); Sydnee Perreault (Toll Gate).
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