Mark Vacca

Vacca wins inaugural Mastracco award

Published Jul 30, 2017 at 9:00am

The inaugural Peter Mastracco award was presented to Mark Vacca last week at the Teugega Country Club Member-Guest Golf Tournament.

Peter passed away last year and was a popular coach and teacher in the Rome school system. His memory will live on for many years in this tournament and the selection of Mark was spot on. Peter’s plaque will go to the golfer who shows sportsmanship and the zest for life that Peter showed us all in his courageous fight against cancer.

Mark is a 1988 Rome Catholic High graduate who was an outstanding athlete. He played baseball and football and was a first team Inter-Valley League all-star in both sports.

Mark went on to college at Hamilton where he played football and baseball for the Continentals. His coach was Rome Sports Hall of Fame legend Mike Davis. They remain close friends today.

Mark is a successful businessman in Rome as the owner of Vacca Financial Services. He is a person who just keeps giving back to our community.

Last year, with just a few weeks to live, Peter Mastracco came to our golf tournament for about an hour to say goodbye to all his lifelong golfing friends. Lots of tears and hugs went out to this great man. It was a very emotional afternoon for all of us.

Do you remember Pete Arnold? He was an outstanding basketball player for Rome Free Academy back in 1962-64 and his coach was Lew Bennett. One night in 1962, he performed the incredible feat of pulling down 32 rebounds against Utica Free Academy. He was only a junior and went on to play college basketball at Hartwick. I am willing to bet that Pete’s 32 rebounds is still a record today. 

I ran into Dennis Parry last week and he still looks in basketball shape. Did you know he was a co-captain of the varsity hoop team back in 1964? His job was to feed Eddie Jackson, one of the best all-around athletes in RFA history. Dennis spends a lot of his senior life on the golf course.

This week is so exciting in Rome with Honor America Days. I will be missing Carl Eilenberg however as he won’t be attending this year. His voice sends shivers down my spine during the parade and Rome Sports Hall of Fame Banquet on Sunday night. He told me that next year he will be back.

Bill Tracy passed away a few months ago and I miss him at Teugega County Club. His name is on so many club championships from back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Did you know he was the city of Rome golf champion at the young age of 16? He was a special man who loved sports and our community. May he rest in peace.

Tom Delahunt was a three-sport athlete for RCH back in 1982-83. He was one of my all-time favorite athletes that I ever coached and was a great kid. He just took a new job at La Salle University as vice president of enrollment. The city of Philadelphia is getting a special family.

A few years ago, I was sitting on North James Street watching our awesome Honor America Days Parade. As a group of U.S. Army veterans marched by, a friend of mine turned her back saying she detested our military. I moved my lawn chair to a different location and have never spoken to her again.

We need to thank all our troops particularly those for whom we can never express enough gratitude, for they would give their lives so that all of us may be free.