I met Rocco Granato only once; he and his wife Jackie came to Toronto last year for a Rock/Wings game. I didn’t get a picture with him at the time, and when I realized later that I should have, I thought “next time!” knowing he was a frequent traveller when it came to lacrosse.
But there won’t be a next time.
Rocco tragically passed away on December 29 from complications of bacterial pneumonia. Everyone at In Lacrosse We Trust is devastated by his loss. Our hearts go out to his wife and love of his life Jackie, his two children Chris and Samantha, and his many family members and adored pets.
Despite only meeting in person once, I worked with Rocco for the last six years here at ILWT. He was the heart and soul of this organization. He embodied our mission statement – to cover lacrosse at every level. He wrote about the NLL, MLL and PLL. He attended LaxCon every year. He did play by play for the Drexel Dragons at the NCAA level. He even travelled to Vancouver for the 2019 WILC, and those are just the things I can think of off the top of my head. He was the first to request a media pass for every big event, planning his vacation time around our great sport.
I didn’t know most of the details of Rocco’s life. Here’s what I do know: He was a proud Army vet. He loved his mom, who he lost to cancer two years ago, dearly. He LOVED dogs. He was an integral member of the Wingnuts, his Fann Cup team. He always had fun stories about the people he met at his job at the Holiday Inn. He was an active guy – in addition to cheering for the Wings (and any other Philly-based team) and playing for the Wingnuts, he was a baseball umpire.
He was my go-to guy. I could always count on him for detailed analyses at the drop of a hat. He would cover a game if someone bailed at the last minute. He’d scour box scores and highlights to make sure every detail was correct. Lacrosse mattered to Rocco, and he mattered to us.
In eight years, he wrote 550 stories for ILWT.
The outpouring of affection for Rocco on social media this week tells you exactly what kind of man he was. He was so friendly and so passionate and left a good impression on everyone. That his favourite players have honoured him on their social media means the world. It means that what he did mattered. In covering lacrosse, he touched the lives of everyone he interviewed. He had so many more stories to write.
Friends, respiratory illnesses are no joke, especially during our current pandemic. I’ve had pneumonia. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Rocco was stolen from us much, much too early.
Allow me to preach for a moment. We have to stop the spread of Covid-19, another serious, deadly respiratory illness. Wear a mask. Social distance. Endure the damn lockdowns, because they won’t last forever. Rocco did. He wore a mask religiously (a Wings’ mask, of course). Follow his example. Even if we do all this, it could still get us anyway because this virus is a tricky, indiscriminate bastard. If we ALL do our part, maybe we can save someone else who has no business dying young.
From Matt Caruk:
Fann Cup 2016 was at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville. Friday night was their meet and greet night, and there was an Oakville Rock/Six Nations game with all the Fann Cup folks in attendance. Knowing he’d be there, I asked Rocco if he wanted to do colour commentary with me on play by play, and give him a chance to talk about Fann Cup, Philly lacrosse, U.S. lacrosse, etc. It was like I gave him a million dollars. He absolutely loved it. He asked Jackie to video him and take pictures the entire night. Taking him down to meet the coaches for lineups, etc., I could tell how excited he was. I knew he’d called games for the old InLax “radio” network, but he said he’d never done anything as big as an MSL game. I’ve never seen a grown man so giddy in all my life. It was the one and only time I met him in person. But I could tell that 1) he loved lacrosse 2) he loved his wife 3) goddamn did he have fun that night.
Rest In Peace, Rocco pic.twitter.com/GoAtreNOeg
— Philadelphia Wings (@NLLwings) December 30, 2020
We are truly saddened by the passing of Rocco Granato. His passion for lacrosse and his hometown @NLLwings was unmatched. We send our deepest condolences to his wife and family. As a reporter, fan and Fann Cup player, Rocco was beloved in the lacrosse community. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/L5SfBsEtRb
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) December 30, 2020
Rest In Peace❤️🥍❤️
— Devan Kaney (@DevanKaneyTV) December 30, 2020
Always took time to catch up with Rocco after home games. Warm and welcoming, a man’s man. My condolences to his family.
— Franky Brown (@Browniee_83) December 30, 2020
Terrible news for the Philadelphia lacrosse community with the passing of my buddy @wingsphanatic. Devastated to hear. Rocco was was of the all time great guys who loved lacrosse and especially the @NLLwings. My thoughts are with his wife Jackie, daughter Sam and son Chris. RIP
— Brett Manney (@BManney13) December 30, 2020
A great man with so much love for Philly lacrosse. Rest In Peace Rocco. https://t.co/JJn2lwyR2H
— Ben McIntosh (@BenMc90) December 30, 2020
Very sad news this morning. Rocco was as passionate as they come and was always great to me when I was in philly and just a genuine great guy. I’ll miss the conversations at the rink with him. Rest easy Pal
— paul dawson (@bigdaws02) December 30, 2020
The lacrosse world lost a great one last night. @wingsphanatic was my sidekick for so many @TheBayhawks @YCPMLacrosse games and countless talk shows. More importantly he was a great friend. I will miss you buddy. pic.twitter.com/cD9DK4gWaw
— Jared Welsh (@JWelshPxP) December 30, 2020
Rest in peace, Rocco. And may strength & peace find their way to your family during this difficult time.
— IL_Indoor.com (@IL_Indoor) December 30, 2020