Nicole Perez, Marshall Vigneault honored by Fuzz Foundation
Two Jamestown athletes were recently named the 2012 Fuzz Foundation award recipients in recognition of their extraordinary team leadership and dedication to their sports, academic achievements and contribution to the community.
Rachel Andreozzi and Megan Fox named North Kingstown High School graduate Nicole Perez and Prout School graduate Marshall Vigneault this year’s honorees. Andreozzi and Fox, both former yearround Jamestowners, started the Fuzz Foundation for Dedicated Athletes in honor of their father, Donald “Fuzzy” Andreozzi, who died in 2008. Andreozzi now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Fox resides in Cranston.
According to Andreozzi, Fuzzy owned a couple of restaurants on the island. He opened his first venture, the Sandwich Stop, before his daughters were born, and they don’t remember that business. But they do remember his second establishment, Fuzzy’s, which was in the location where Jamestown Fish stands today.
Fuzzy coached youth sports with the Jamestown rec department and was a supporter of the local school sports teams, his daughters said. He coached every rec department team his daughters joined – he was there for fall soccer, winter basketball and spring softball, and he attended all their games when they played school sports.
He also donated pizza – “tons of pizza” – to the rec department’s annual tournament. Most important, he was one of the people who truly believed it didn’t matter if you won or lost, but it did matter how you played the game.
For one example, Andreozzi mentioned a letter he penned one time after he broke their “rule” about not giving advice after a game – unless asked. His letter posed as an apology, but it was really a lecture, she said, from a father to his 12-year-old daughter.
“All I ask,” he wrote,
“is that you do your best. No more, no less.”
“I don’t know if dad necessarily coached because he wanted to win,” Fox said. She believes he did it to help kids out.
“He may not have known all the strategies, and he may not have had the top plays, but he insisted on dedication and how hard you try,” she said.
Fox played field hockey and lacrosse at Rocky Hill in East Greenwich, and those sports were not Fuzzy’s favorites. Her father might have been a little bored with field hockey, she said. But he “did some research” on the rules and attended all her games. Running into one of her old teammates, she said, the first thing the friend said was remembering Fuzzy at their games “standing by the stone wall.”
According to Andreozzi, Fuzzy may not have been singe-minded about winning, but his attitude made the youngsters want to win. “His support pushed you to be awesome. We wanted to win.”
She could count on her father at her games even when she played college sports.
“He was my biggest fan,” she said.
Andreozzi said her mother has told her that her father originally became involved with youth sports as a way to stay close to his daughters. Their parents divorced when the children were young. However, their mother, Carol Hopkins, and Fuzzy stayed best friends. Hopkins is an islander.
Recently, Hopkins gave Andreozzi a box of memorabilia that Fuzzy had collected over the years, including every newspaper story about her athletic accomplishments, as well as the programs from all her sports events, going back to middle school. On every program, he had written down the names of the players who scored and the number of assists.
“He was obsessed with statistics,” she said, a trait she connected to his college days at the Uni- versity of Rhode Island. “He was a math major and really good with numbers.”
And although her father loved professional sports and followed the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics, he attended the youth games to root for his children and his friends’ kids.
On his last birthday, Andreozzi took her father to a Red Sox game, and it was the first time he’d been to a professional game in 25 years.
Fox said Fuzz Foundation athletes must demonstrate they share Andreozzi’s ideals, such as dedication.
Perez played soccer for the North Kingstown girls’ varsity team. She was honored by the Rhode Island Girls Soccer Association with the Sportsmanship Award. Vigneault was a pitcher and outfielder for the Prout varsity baseball team. He was named Second Team All-State this season.
About 10 islanders apply for the $500 scholarships annually. Ideally, Fox would like to see about 25 students apply annually, but that may be a high bar to set. Andreozzi noted the scholarship rules limit the athletes who are eligible. They have to be graduating senior athletes from Jamestown who plan to play sports in college.
Fox said she specifically looks for students who are “well rounded” and have succeeded in academics, as well as in sports. They don’t have to be sports stars or A students, but they need “decent grades,” she said, and a recommendation from one of their coaches, which demonstrates their dedication to the team.
Students also write an essay explaining why they should receive the award.