Sad news struck FHS and Southeastern on January 22 upon hearing the news that beloved teacher and coach Matt Anzivino, AZ to many, had passed away. He coached baseball at FHS and taught at Southeastern. He touched the lives of many past and present students in his lifetime. Many were devastated by this upsetting news.
Anzivino was born on July 24, 1981, in Chesterfield County, Virginia. He grew up in Warrenton, where he graduated from FHS in 1999. He played baseball here coached by Mark Ott. He continued playing baseball in college at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina, where he graduated in 2003. He was a teacher and head varsity coach in Richmond at Varina High School. After this, he taught at Southeastern for about six years. He left an impact on many at Southeastern with his fun learning techniques. During this time he continued his passion for baseball by being both the JV and assistant varsity baseball coach at FHS, leading others to succeed at the same place he had.
For a while, Anzivino was struggling with bladder cancer. This is when cells in the bladder start to grow too fast and as the cancer cells develop they can form a tumor that spreads to other areas of the body. However, he defeated this challenge, unfortunately, cancer came back. A few years later he found himself struggling with the disease yet again, and on January 22 at Novant Health UVA Prince William Medical Center, he passed away at age 37 still fighting. His memory will live on in the minds of family members, students, and teammates that will miss him and remember him for the great man he was.
Coach AZ’s team shared a story that really illustrated his unique personality. “After we knocked off Riverside last year, which we weren’t supposed to do, we had a big dog pile in the middle of the field. Coach AZ ran in from the dugout and dove into the dog pile, which is not something coaches usually do,” said senior Carson McCusker. He was not the only who remembers Anzivino this way, senior Lane Pearson said, “Just his excitement and how he ran on the field and jumped on the dog pile.” This story truly shows you what type of person he was.
McCusker remembers, “just his spirit and he always brought high energy and positive attitude to the baseball field every day, [and] he really helped our team.” Anzivino was someone these boys looked up and was a role model for them. Everyone who ever met him said he was always positive. Pearson commented that Coach AZ will be remembered for, “His positivity and how he went about his day and was never negative and loved all the kids.”
Any of the baseball players who played on Coach AZ team will portray someone who was just a great person. “He was super nice and caring for all the kids, and he was just a super positive guy,” said Pearson. McCusker added, “He was a great man and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He really inspired me to be a better person.”
“Outgoing,” was the one word Ott gave to describe Anzivino, “He was always happy and smiling. He would do anything for you, and he truly cared about his athletes.” He was nicknamed “AZ” and that is what he went by for many. Ott said, “he always had a smile and was always passionate towards people.” Coach Anzivino, Mr. Anzivino, “AZ” or whichever name you knew him by was always there to lend a helping hand and will be greatly missed by many.
By Catherine Smith – Staff Reporter