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TRIBUTE TO A FRIEND How others remember Vindicator sports reporter Pete Mollica



Published: Fri, July 15, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.

JOE SCALZO

Vindicator sports reporter

“If you didn’t like Pete, you didn’t like people. Whether he was talking about YSU sports (his passion), playing golf (also his passion), typing in area golf scores for our paper (definitely not his passion) or making thousands of cheese puffs at the Mt. Carmel festival in Niles (“I have no idea why people love these things so much. It’s just cheese and dough!”), he was a flat-out blast to be around. He was also one of the fastest and most prolific writers I’ve ever seen — I know of at least one competitor who would intentionally try to finish his story first after a game, and lose —but if Pete had an ego about his writing, he buried under a mile-thick layer of grace, generosity and zest for life. I’m going to miss him. I miss him already.”

BILL SULLIVAN

Vindicator sports reporter

“I imagine heaven has a golf course over in the distance. An older course, far more difficult to get on than Augusta National or Firestone. The simple dues are spelled out in an old book: Follow these 10 commandments and the rewards are eternal life (and use of the course). Still, few are allowed to play Heavenly Acres because they didn’t follow the rules. Pete Mollica has a steady 9 a.m. tee time now, ready to show off his golfing form. Pete was never a great sports writer but he was a steady, consistent one. And, maybe that was more important. I worked side-by-side with Pete for 25 years and learned his value to a sports staff by observing his dedication to the craft. He was a tireless worker and was always ready to listen to my jokes, even when time robbed him prematurely of some of his hearing. You always knew where Pete stood; he loved his family, he loved his golf, he loved Youngstown State athletics and he loved his wife Bonnie most of all. I was happy for Pete when he retired 18 months ago because he could now take up golfing more seriously, and not have to share his time with sports. Our department was losing an icon, but he deserved his time out on the course. Now Pete gets to play Heavenly Acres all the time. Hit them straight Pete.”

TOM WILLIAMS

Vindicator sports reporter

“It’s hard to imagine anyone who loved golf more than Pete, whether playing it or writing about it. No one was sadder than when the LPGA Tour stopped coming to the Mahoning Valley nine years ago. Pete was among the first to arrive each day of those tournaments even though the players he’d need to speak with were usually the last ones off the course. He loved every minute he spent covering those professional golfers during those hot summer days. Pete’s passion for life, whether it was covering golf or Youngstown State athletics or watching his children and grandchildren grow up, was an inspiration. He found time to do so much. He’s gone way too soon but I’m glad he was able to pack so much into the time he had with us.”

RON STROLLO

Youngstown State executive director of athletics

“Pete was someone I would see rain or shine at any of our sporting events and you could see he was genuinely happy to be there. Covering our teams was something he looked forward to and enjoyed doing. As a journalist, he was fair in covering our teams, whether it was during the good or the bad times. As a person, he was good hearted and always made you feel at ease. That is a special quality to have. Everyone who knew Pete is going to be sad. But they all know they are better for knowing him at some point in their lives.”

Joe Malmisur

Former YSU executive

director of athletics

“Being a former player, Pete truly knew about the tumult and the shouting. Having had the privilege to sit with him through many of the events that he covered, both at YSU and elsewhere, he tried to treat every player as is if they were one of his own. He loved golf and played football for Tony Mason, so he understood the time and effort necessary in order to become a successful athlete.”

TREVOR PARKS

YSU sports information

director at YSU

“Pete always enjoyed covering Youngstown State sporting events and treated our players, coaches and athletes with a tremendous amount of respect. He was a person everyone enjoyed seeing and talking to. I was very lucky to get to know him and not growing up here, he always made me feel at home. He was a great person who I am going to miss.”

JAMIE HALL

Assistant sports information director at YSU

“Pete loved covering Youngstown State athletics and sports throughout the Mahoning Valley. I am fortunate to have known him for more than a decade when he was covering YSU and lucky to call him a friend. Whether it was a football, basketball or softball game, Pete was always professional but you knew his heart was with the Penguins. He was a kind, kind man and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Bonnie, and the entire Mollica family. His loss will be felt by our entire community.”

JOHN VOGEL

Assistant sports information director at YSU

“I always viewed Pete as the dean of local sports media since I first met him in 2002. He was a trustworthy and true professional, and he always did his best to represent our teams as positively as possible without sacrificing his journalistic integrity. I always enjoyed seeing him with his “Y” hat on at YSU baseball games and chatting with him about sports and his golf game. He will certainly be missed by the Youngstown State community. My prayers go out to his family.”

JON HEACOCK

Kent State defensive

coordinator and former YSU head football coach

“Every day, when I was walking out to practice, he was usually the first guy I saw. He was there every single day. I always appreciated his perspective because he didn’t just show up at press conferences and go write something. He was at every game, every practice and he’d sometimes even come to individual meetings. He was always trying to understand what we were doing with our players. I told my wife when I finished my time at YSU, I didn’t ever worry about anything he wrote because I knew he tried to understand everything we do. He was always upbeat, always positive. He always found something good about something. I always respected that about him. There was never a bad day with Pete and that’s a pretty cool ability to have. He was a class guy, he treated all of us with respect and he was one of my favorites. [His death] really makes me sad.”

JIM TRESSEL

Former YSU and Ohio State football coach

“Pete Mollica’s passion for sports was only exceeded by his love for the Valley and its Sportsmen. He will be missed by all of us who had the pleasure of his company.”

BOB HANNON

President/Chief Professional Officer at United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley and radio voice of

YSU football

“Pete was such a good person. I got to know him well when traveling together covering YSU football. His work was always so positive. He was looking to write about the best in the athletes and teams that he was covering. His passion was golf, and I always thought his best work was his coverage of the LPGA when we had tournaments in the Valley. Some of the last writing he did for the Vindicator was showcasing the local junior golf talent that is competing in the Valley’s best golfer. I am sure those kids and their families enjoyed it. I last talked to Pete about a month ago and told him I wanted to take him out to play. He shared with me his health issues, and we agreed once out of the hospital we would play. Sadly, we never got to play that round of golf. He will be missed.”

GREG GULAS

Former YSU sports

information director

“I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Pete for over three decades. He always found a way to write something positive about the event that he was covering. He was gracious to everyone and was fair in the coverage that he gave, inwardly cheering for the underdog unless he or she was a YSU Penguin or athlete with a local tie.”


Comments

1DavidSkolnick(49 comments)posted 3 years ago

I'm in Florida on vacation. This is the first I've heard of Pete's passing though I knew he was quite ill.

Pete was one of the funniest people I've known. He was able to say so much in just a few words.

I was in the press box with Pete and Joe Scalzo for the first YSU-OSU game a few years ago. Pete had pages and pages of information of each play of that game. I was amazed that he was able to take what must of been dozens of pages of notes and turn it into an interesting story.

He was also a Niles guy. I covered Niles for the paper from 1995 to 2000, and we would talk about the city's politics.

It's truly a sad day. We lost such a wonderful person.

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2JimNasella(1 comment)posted 3 years ago

This loss is sad news for the area on a variety of levels. Pete's local knowledge and love of the area can not be matched. It's a bigger loss on the human level. Pete and Bonnie were unforgettably caring and kind during my stay in Youngstown. Some of my favorite all-time memories are times he and I spent on the golf course.

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