In Memorium: Tony Lisa

Over the weekend we lost a fellow coach, a friend, a mentor, and someone who brought a lot of joy to our sport.  Tony Lisa was not only a coach at his alma mater, Rowan University or Glassboro State as it was known when Tony stalked the soccer pitch for the Profs, he was also a president of the CSCAA, a shoulder to lead on in hard times and someone who was always learning.  His obituary is linked below, but I wanted to share some words from his former colleagues:

"He was a dear friend, and he made his mark in this word by spreading joy, laughter, and love.  I had the opportunity of becoming a really close friend of Tony’s, and it was an amazing gift.  He always made me feel a little better, he was quick-witted and funny, his smile was radiant from ear to ear, and it always raised me up to be in his presence.  He loved spreading kindness and laughter.   Please take any of the following.  It is hard to write just one thing or quote so pick any of the following

It was an amazing feeling to be a really close friend of Tony’s.  It began in his love for his family, and we all saw how he loved Connie, Suzanne, and Bryan.  Lately, he was so proud of his grandchildren, and he always mentioned them and spoke so strongly about them.  Then that piece quickly spread to his love for you and your family.  We talked about swimming but only after we talked about family.

For Tony, it was always about helping the other person.  He had an amazing way to make us all feel valued like we were “the most important person or coach or teammate or swimmer or family member'.  He would begin a phone conversation with Hello Coach George Kennedy and always end our conversations with “love you man”. He was one of a kind.  I loved him like a brother, and will miss that “Love you man”. - George Kennedy

"Tony was the “Bob Hope” of swimming. For the younger coaches, that means you couldn’t help but smile when he was in the room. Always a joke, an ane, and a laugh! He dedicated his life to our sport and we are deeply grateful to him. He’ll be missed on the pool deck. We thank him for all he has given to the CSCAA during his career."
-    Susan Teeter

“It just breaks my heart to think about losing Tony...a great friend and a great coach. Whenever I saw him it was always an enthusiastic “Hey Buddy!” and a great big hug. And, there were those perfectly timed phone calls out of the blue, just when I needed them.  I could feel in my heart how much he cared.   I will never forget how hard we laughed when he was the MC (with Don Megerle) for the CSCAA Awards banquet, especially the one at our convention in Prescott, Arizona. Tony had fun coaching and truly shared his light with others."
-    Anne Goodman James

"Tony Lisa was a larger than life character who impacted everyone he touched in a positive way. He cared deeply about people and had the ability to make everyone he interacted with feel like they were the most important person on the planet. He was kind, generous, genuine, and very funny. Tony was one of the best friends I ever had. He was Uncle Tony to my children and he affected all of our lives in a profound and unique way. I am so grateful for the time we had together. I will always consider the three seasons we shared a pool deck as some of the best of my career. He earned the trust and respect of everyone at West Point because of how much he cared. Tony was a mentor and confidant who was always there for me. I'd frequently ask myself, "what would Tony do?". When I got the job at Army I asked him who I should hire- he said: "hire me." Those two seasons when I got to be with him every day were a gift that I will treasure forever. His support and trust, and belief in me (sometimes more than I believed in myself) were transformative. A few years ago I had a coach leave mid-season for the first time in my career. I immediately called Tony and asked him what I should do- he said, "hire me." Tony was always there for his friends, no matter what. He was an Air Force veteran who loved his country and loved West Point. And he truly loved coaching swimming. I know he liked making people swim faster, but he LOVED helping young people learn and grown and transform into adulthood. Tony was tough, selfless and very human. We texted about his cancer treatment the day before the heart attack. He said, "my biggest fear is that I am going to whine and be a little baby. Others are way sicker than I". That's Tony, always worried about others more than himself. I told him that I loved him and that he had nothing to worry about because "you're Tony Lisa. The man. The myth. The legend." I hope he knew is his heart that truer words were never spoken..."
-    Mickey Wender

"We will miss you Tony, but you'll always be with us."- from your "Three Amigos"

Tony's New Jersey Times Obituary