The first time I met Rocky Pacent he was wearing a softball jersey, shorts and had a towel around his neck. Actually for most of the six years I knew Rocky that was what he wore. While I'm certain he must have owned a suit or two and had a few ties, I never saw them. What I did see was a man who had a unique presence. Rocky never walked anywhere. He strutted. It was Rocky's way. He had a mission and a passion and it was Manhasset Girls Softball.
Every spring, summer and fall, three-fourths of every year, Rocky was coaching, leading and inspiring the girls that played for him and the coaches that worked with him. I saw the difference he made in the lives of the girls he coached and it wasn't just being better ballplayers. He taught the skills, developed the desire and commanded the respect of his girls. Rocky knew that the gods lived in the details, he spent hours choosing the right tie-dye uniforms for his teams. "If you feel good, you play good," Rocky told my daughter when he dropped off her Williamsport uniform. I coached against Rocky but most of the time I coached as his assistant. I liked it better that way because every time his team took the field I knew his girls were ready, well prepared and instilled with the passion of their coach. I loved to see him work his magic on those girls. Rocky's teams won a lot of games but even when they didn't win, he made every girl feel as if they did. I'm fairly certain Yanni put at least one of his children through college on the profit from the ice cream that Rocky bought for his girl's teams after games.
For the countless hours you spent over the last decade teaching my daughter, and scores like her, not only to be a better softball player but a better person, thank you. For being my friend and always having my back, thank you. 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.