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Lawrence Morizio has put in countless volunteer hours while helping the North Haven Pride travel softball program grow as its travel coordinator. Lawrence, who’s lived in North Haven since 2004, was head coach for the Pride’s 16-U team this summer and is also an executive board member for the North Haven Girls’ Softball League. (Photo courtesy of Lawrence Morizio )
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Lawrence Morizio doesn’t get paid for serving as the travel coordinator with the North Haven Pride travel softball program, but you can’t put a price on the feeling Lawrence gets from helping girls become better players in an environment that’s both highly competitive and lots of fun.
Lawrence grew up in New Jersey, where he played high school baseball and later graduated from Rutgers University. Lawrence came to Connecticut in 1995 to attend the Quinnipiac University School of Law and then graduated two years later, after which he moved to North Haven in 2004.
Eight years ago, Lawrence was coaching his oldest daughter Isabella’s rec team, when he heard that softball aficionado Anthony Bates had started a 14-U travel softball squad in town. Lawrence was intrigued by the idea of giving North Haven girls the opportunity to compete against other towns during the summer, and so he worked with Bates to build the program by adding teams at the 10-U, 12-U, and 16-U levels.
“We built this up with the intent of keeping the girls in North Haven, so they could have camaraderie and a nice family environment, but still maintain the competitive edge that other travel teams have throughout the area,” says Lawrence.
Along the way, Lawrence became the travel coordinator who oversees the day-to-day operations for all four of the Pride’s softball squads as they compete in the Connecticut Valley Fastpitch League (CVFL). During the recent season, Lawrence was also head coach for the Pride’s 16-U team, which was in its first year of existence. He does all of this without receiving—or wanting to receive—a single cent in return.
“We understand that we have to maintain competitive balance, but we made the decision long ago that we were going to do this completely on a volunteer basis. We wanted to build it from the ground up, and we felt it would be more rewarding to volunteer our time and effort,” Lawrence says. “There were times I felt overwhelmed, but that didn’t stop me, because I knew the reward was the experience the girls had on the field with their respective teams. To me, that was priceless and worth all the volunteer hours we put in.”
Lawrence says that the Pride emphasizes the importance of “commitment, perseverance, and teamwork,” whether it’s on the field or in other walks of life. Using this principle, the Pride has come a long a way throughout the past decade. This year, its 10-U and 14-U teams each won their respective regular season titles in the CVFL. Last season, the 12-U squad took first place at the Cheshire Flames Invitational.
As much as he wants to see the Pride succeed, Lawrence also wants the athletes to enjoy their experience, and he knows those two things often go in hand in hand.
“It’s a competitive game up and down the ladder, and you’ll always have distinctions based on age, but our credo is the same: If you are not having fun playing softball, you are in the wrong game,” he says. “Softball is an incredibly difficult sport and, if you don’t love it, you shouldn’t play it. So passion is something we tell the players they have to bring at all levels.”
Bates says that Lawrence has displayed the utmost passion while helping the Pride take shape. Bates adds that Lawrence possesses a vast knowledge of softball that’s benefited athletes of all ages in town.
“He knows the game from head to toe, he teaches the kids, and the girls understand the game better from his coaching. They’ve all become better softball players, and they’ve all grown,” says Bates, who’s coached the Pride’s 14-U team since the program’s inception. “A lot of the kids we started with are all on the high school team, and they’re flourishing right now, which speaks volumes about what we’ve accomplished...We are where we are now because of him. It’s just incredible.”
In addition to coaching Isabella on the Pride’s 16-U team, Lawrence was also an assistant coach for his youngest daughter Amalia’s 10-U club. On top of that, Lawrence served as head coach for his son Luciano’s 11-U Max Sinoway travel baseball team and helped out with Amalia and Luciano’s rec teams. While there are differences between the dimensions and distances on the baseball and softball fields, Lawrence owns the same philosophy regarding the process in both sports.
“The mental approach is similar from baseball to softball,” he says. “The repetition in practice, loving to practice, loving fielding a ground ball and hitting off a tee in practice, enjoying your teammates in practice, and seeing that love translate to the excitement in a game—that’s where I’m at my best, making sure the kids enjoy their practice time and do the best they can during the game. Watching them practice and then come out with intensity has been a great joy for me.”
Like Lawrence, Mike Anquillare has been on both sides of that coin as he was head coach of the West Haven High School baseball team for 15 seasons and coached the Pride’s 10-U squad this year. Anquillare praises Lawrence for the way he communicates with his players, as well as the enthusiasm he brings to the diamond.
“He’s a hands-on type of guy. He will get right into practice and, if he sees a player make a mistake, he will approach them, but the key is how he approaches them,” Anquillare says. “He’s not a yeller or a screamer. He instructs and communicates well with the girls, and that is a big key...Lawrence also has a little giddy-up to his step, which is good, and the kids feed off that.”
Lawrence thanks many people for bolstering the growth of North Haven Pride softball. In addition to thanking the players and his fellow coaches for their dedication, Lawrence expresses great gratitude to dozens of sponsors throughout the state who assisted in subsidizing player tuitions this year. Lawrence also thanks his wife Angela for all of her support, saying, “I could not do this without the patience and love of my wife.”
Although Lawrence is the one at the forefront of the Pride’s progression, he appreciates how the efforts of others have played a huge role in giving North Haven softball players the chance to maximize their skills, while having a nice time on the field.
“When I go to sleep at night, that is what I’m thankful for—that we’ve given them a great experience and they’ve achieved so much in such a short period of time,” says Lawrence.
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