NVGAG a Family Affair
Father and daughter Pete and Lori Falzarano of Stirling, N.J., have a lot in common … a strong family resemblance, pitching the first no-hitter at Watchung Hills High School (Pete in baseball; Lori in softball) and coaching each other in athletic competitions. They also live next door to each other in what they both laughingly describe as Italian family tradition.
Pete, a former football player at N.C. State and Army Veteran, coached Lori for years teaching and pushing her to excel as a pitcher in fast-pitch softball. Now Lori, a recreation therapist at Lyon’s VA Medical Center, coaches her dad in shot put, discus, checkers and croquet to compete in the National Veterans Golden Age Games.
It took a little convincing from Lori to get Pete involved in the Golden Age Games. But finally Pete agreed to compete.
“She became the coach and I became the student,” Pete said with a smile. “The best comparison is your parents raise you and at some point you raise your parents. She pushes me the way I pushed her.”
Lori, who has coached the Lyon’s VAMC team for 11 years, credits her dad for her success as an athlete and sees her role as a natural next step.
“The reason I was so successful (as a pitcher) was because of him,” she said recalling Pete was at all of her games as she grew up. “What I’m doing is the same thing he did for me.” For years Pete came to all of her games, caught for her when she practiced, arranged travel for tournaments and all the other things parents of athletes do to make the sport possible for their children. Now Lori says it’s her turn.
The truth is, though, both coaches had to learn sport techniques too. Pete had to master the underhand fast-pitch technique as he coached Lori. And Lori had to learn proper technique for shot put and discus to coach her dad who has won gold in discus in eight of his nine appearances at the Golden Age Games. Pete has also competed twice at the National Senior Games and hopes to qualify again for their 2013 events.
“She’s the best coach I’ve ever had,” said Pete who was a teacher and high school athletic director after leaving the Army. “What I forget, she remembers. What I don’t do, she sees. She has insight and knowledge that have made me a better athlete in the field events and all around.”
Lori has high expectations for the nine athletes on their team. She demands they work hard, train regularly and exhibit good sportsmanship while supporting each other.
“When you play sports at any age it really teaches you about life,” Lori said. “Somebody wins; somebody loses … you’re part of a team and you have to work together to win.”
Pete and Lori have learned those lessons well. He won gold in both discus and shot put in the men’s 70 – 74 age division at the 26th National Veterans Golden Age Games.
By Tonya C. Lobbestael, Public Affairs Officer
Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston, SC