North Adams, MA- In a fitting tribute to a legend, a large capacity crowd of alumni and community members gathered Saturday to say their final goodbyes to a coaching icon. Joseph Zavattaro, better known to all as Coach Zav, passed away in late July at the age of 86. "Coach Zav" served as the head baseball coach and athletics director at MCLA for over 30 years.
The day began with a funeral service held at St. Elizabeth's church in North Adams. Following the service, guests congregated in the Amsler Campus Center Gym to reminisce about the life and legacy of Coach Zav. Emceed by a pair of Zavattaro's closest friends and college alumni, Paul Kujawski and Wayne Soares, stories were told about his career in coaching along with the impact Zavattaro had on student athletes. Both Kujawski and Soares played under Zavattaro. Each commented on the impact that Coach had on their respective careers and life decisions.
Invited guests grabbed the microphone to speak to Zav's impact on their own lives. The speaker lineup included the following:
- Dr. James F. Birge- MCLA President
- Bill Holowaty- Former Eastern Connecticut State Baseball Coach
- Ron Shewcraft- Former MCLA Men's Soccer Coach
- Dick Syriac '71- MCLA Hall of Fame Inductee
- Jeff Puleri '12- MCLA Assistant Athletics Director
Zavattaro's legacy is far reaching. He amassed over 500 wins in his storied career along with 11 conference championships. Zavattaro would send a countless number of players on to the professional ranks and is a member of numerous Hall of Fame's. Under Zav's leadership at the college, he spearheaded the design and implementation of the Athletics Complex (which bears his name) and the creation of the athletics department. A remarkable athlete is his own right, Zavattaro was a local standout in Baseball, Basketball, and Football in the Berkshires. He would play professional baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization before coming back to school in North Adams and mapping out his legendary career.
As one final tribute, Zavattaro was formally inducted into the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletics Conference Hall of Fame. A banner listing some of his most memorable accomplishments will be raised to the rafters of the Amsler Campus Center Gym while a replica also hangs on the baseball field dugout at MCLA.
Coach Zavattaro seemed destined to be with us until the end of time. Following the events of Saturday, it's clear his life and legacy will live on forever in the hearts of so many former student-athletes and friends.