Obituaries

Aida Maria Ioppolo, 94, of Gainesville. FL, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 8 at Woodlands Care Center in Gainesville. Before moving to Florida 10 years ago, she lived in South Strathmore, Manhasset, NY for 50 years, where she worked in administration for the public schools. After retiring, she was very active in community affairs, serving as president of the Manhasset Active Seniors. In 1995, she was honored by Proclamation by the Town of North Hempstead for her community involvement and concern, leaving an indelible mark on her fellow citizens."

She is survived by her daughter, Edie (Dave) Wood, Gainesville, FL; son, Frank (Mella) Ioppolo, Sr., Orlando FL; brother, Tony (Connie) Contiguglia; four grandchildren, Frank (Charisa) Ioppolo, Jr.; Vanessa Ioppolo, Heather (Blair) Brown and Christina Wood; three great-grandchildren, Olivia and Trey Ioppolo and Sophie Brown and a host of admiring nieces and nephews

A graveside ceremony on March 13 was held at the Cemetery of The Holy Cross in Brooklyn. Donations may be made to any of the Manhasset High School scholarships in the name of Aida Ioppolo.

Arrangements were under the care of Moring Funeral Home, Melrose, FL.

Rocky Pacent

Manhasset lost a champion this past week. Rocky Pacent, the face of Manhasset girls softball in recent seasons and coach of girls softball travel and Williamsport teams, passed away last week, ultimately losing his battle with fast- moving and merciless cancer. He is survived by his wife, Elaine, and daughter, Paige, and will be fondly remembered throughout Manhasset as a man who dedicated countless hours to the girls softball program but who, more importantly, touched the lives of and had a lasting imprint on every young girl who passed through the program, their families and his fellow coaches.

In his honor those who knew him and worked alongside him in the girls softball program have collected and shared their memories.

A long time Manhasset resident, Pacent founded his own business, Pacent Engineering, and was a devoted family man. He added a passion for softball when daughter Paige become old enough to join the fledgling Manhasset Baseball League. "I coached with Rocky for 10 years, starting with my first grade girls T-Ball team which Rocky's daughter Paige joined in kindergarten, timid and having never played softball before," said Jimmy Accardi, Rocky's predecessor in coaching the girls and long time director of the girl's division of the Manhasset Baseball League. "She's since grown into a lovely young lady - with a real mean fastball. Every girl who passed through our system during his time with us knows "The Rock." Rocky Pacent was Manhasset Softball and will truly be missed by us all."

Over the years Rocky's involvement in the softball program increased as he was instrumental in helping the league become successful, in town and against outside competition, organizing Williamsport tournaments and helping the league expand to include summer and fall travel teams. In addition to helping to raise the league to the next level, he has also had an impact on the many coaches who have followed his example of commitment and devotion to the girls program. "Rocky was the driving force behind Manhasset softball for as long as I have been a part of the league, intimately involved at all age levels, all skill levels and all seasons - not just with his daughter's teams" said Bob Hart, a successor of Pacent's in coaching the younger girls' Williamsport team. "He had a passion for the game, but his greatest pleasure was watching our daughters grow up playing softball. Rocky's legacy is that he helped build a softball program that won nine Williamsport district titles and competed against some of the best softball teams on Long Island. Rocky's absence will leave a huge void in the softball program that will be very difficult to fill, but because of him we have a great foundation for the girls program going forward."

As great a legacy as he has left with respect to the leagues, perhaps Rocky will best be remembered by his players and the impact he had on them. "Rocky had a way of getting his players to love the game almost as much as he did, teaching them to compete at the highest level, but to have fun playing the game at the same time. He had a unique talent for getting to know each player on his team and figuring out how to bring out the best in them," said Dante LaRocca, who coached against Rocky and whose daughters ultimately played on some of Pacent's teams. "He instructed, prodded, taught, encouraged, joked - whatever it took - but always kept them focused on softball. Even this winter he reminded my daughter 'You're playing for me this spring, better get your glove broken in now'."

His players were Rocky's true joy. Coach Chris Jones summed up his passion for all the girls who played Manhasset softball. "I met Rocky during tryouts for the U10 Williamsport softball team two years ago. He devoted his time to these younger girls' tryouts even though he was coaching the older U12 team. By the end of the day, he knew every girl's name, had figured out the position each would be best at and predicted the team would be Manhasset's most successful team yet." [Note: they won in the Long Island sectionals, the furthest a Manhasset team has advanced to date.] Jones added, "Throughout the summer he tracked me down and made it a point to ask how each girl had done in each game. Whenever we met, the conversation would always turn to 'his girls'. You couldn't help but feel his joy when he told stories about his players: Jenna, Hope, Emory, Charlotte, Georgetti, LaRocca, Katie, Roe, Ally, EJ, Aidan, Heaney, Emily and of course Paige. He will truly be missed by all, but the ones who will miss him most are 'his girls'."

Rocky's focus on the girls and motivating them individually enabled him to bring out the best in them on the field. They played hard and competitively and had fun, but they also played for Rocky. "Mr. Pacent respected the girls who not only had good softball skills but had heart - 'moxy' he called it - putting your whole self into the game and loving the sport," recalls one of "his girls," Emory Parker. "I remember him hitting fly balls at practice once and wanting so much to make a play that would impress Mr. Pacent. When my turn came he hit one and rather than making a textbook catch, the impact of the ball knocked me to the ground, but I held on and raised my glove. Turned out better than a clean catch because I made Mr. Pacent smile." Aidan Owens, seventh-grader, remembered, "I was always happy when Mr. Pacent asked me to sub on his team because I knew that even if we didn't win, the game would be exciting and fun. It didn't matter to Mr. Pacent if we won or lost as long as we tried our best he would be proud!

Rocky contributed more than many sport coaches as he taught 'his girls' about things besides how to play between the base lines. "As director of umpires," Craig Schmitt remembered, "any problems that arose involved the boys' teams, never the girls. Rocky was, in large part, responsible for that. Sure, he taught hitting and fielding with that great passion of his, but the girls also learned there are right ways and wrong ways to do things, on or off the field, and a right way to treat those around you - with respect, and whenever possible with a sense of humor. When I became Field Coordinator for the league, the very first call I got was from Rocky who congratulated me with: 'Guten morgen, Field Marshal Schmitt.'"

Rocky also added a unique flair to the Manhasset girls teams as they competed throughout Long Island. He not only made sure the girls were confident in their softball skills, but that they felt good about being on the field. He pioneered expanding girls' uniforms from the traditional T-shirts and caps to include such fashionable innovations as visors, various tie-dyed blue and orange combinations and even wearing different combinations of socks at the same time - Manhasset softball traditions that are likely to survive him.

Another of his frequent assistant coaches, Dino Moshova, noted, "Rocky taught the skills, developed the desire and commanded the respect of his girls, but he also knew the devil was in the details. He even spent hours choosing the right tie-dye uniform combinations for his teams and figuring out which 'look' was best for a particular game. 'If you feel good you play good', Rocky told my daughter when she looked with suspicion at her Williamsport uniform."

While his family and loved ones mourn their loss, the coach most directly affected is likely to be Chris Motti, who most recently coached the travel and Williamsport teams with Rocky. "The thing that jumps out at me most was the pride he had in watching the girls do well and improve; the little smile he would give me when he predicted one of them would get a hit and they came through. He only had one daughter but to him they were all 'his girls' and he was just as happy and proud when any of them did well. He taught these girls to play and love softball, something they will pass on to their kids. Most of all, the guy really cared. The girls will miss him and so will I."

Still, with the great legacy he left 'his girls' and the Manhasset Softball League, his absence will be difficult for everyone he touched. "I coached both with and against Rocky for years," says colleague John Markham, "and it wasn't really spring for me until I saw Rocky on the mound - a little less svelte of course than the year before - throwing batting practice to the girls with his mitt that looked like Ty Cobb's, and chewing on his coach's towel. It's going to be odd for all of us involved in girls softball to adjust, but when the girls take the field, a part of Rocky will be out there too so he'll still be with us and his impact will continue. Maybe they'll adopt tie-dyed wings in Heaven!"

Coach Moshova summarized what Rocky's passing will mean for the coming season: "Spring is upon us once again and soon the gloves and balls will come out for another year of softball but it won't be the same this year. Not for every girl that has ever been on one of Rocky's teams and not for me."

In honor of Rocky Pacent, the Manhasset Softball League is making his initials-RJP-an official part of the league uniforms. The Pacent family has designated The Manhasset Softball League as the recipient of donations. Anyone wishing to make a donation to Manhasset Softball in honor of Rocky Pacent should write to: The Rocky Pacent Softball Fund c/o Manhasset PAL Baseball, 565 Plandome Road, Box 212, Manhasset, NY 11030.


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