SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Loved ones are remembering a well-known Fredericksburg-area soccer coach who died after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Rappahannock Area Health District reported the death late Sunday as a Spotsylvania man in his 50s. The Fredericksburg Football Club (FFC) confirmed the man who died was Peter Armatis, 54.
“We are saddened by the news that Spotsylvania has lost another member of our community to complications of COVID-19 and we would like to offer our deepest sympathies to his family and friends during this time of intense grief and sorrow,” said Battlefield District Supervisor Chris Yakabouski of the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “Any loss to our community is devastating, but it is especially tragic to lose an individual who positively impacted many young lives through his dedication to coaching youth soccer. Our hearts go out to the entire Fredericksburg Football Club family.”
According to the FFC, Armatis served as a coach and board member with the club, beginning his time as a recreation coach and working his way up to coaching one of the club’s Black teams, the highest youth level in the club. Most recently, he was coaching the club’s 2007 Boys Black and 2005 Boys Red teams, preparing them for the Spring season.
“When I came on board six years ago, coach Peter was a recreation coach who had a passion for coaching and showed a true and honest love for the game. He continually asked questions and looked for ways to help his team and the club,” said Grover Gibson, FFC’s President and Executive Director.
“[He was] bigger than life,” said Kevin Leahy, Armatis’ friend and fellow coach. “They broke the mold when it came to Peter."
For Leahy the shock of Peter's death has left many who knew the coach numb.
"Just going to miss him, you know,” said Adrian Batchelor. “It's tough."
Batchelor, the FFC Recreation Director, shared time coaching both on the same and opposing sidelines, said Armatis’ personality was very influential on others. He added that he was a person that you would instantly warm to because of his appreciation and passion for all aspects of life.
“Peter was just in a class of his own from that perspective - offering mentorship to others, both in and out of the soccer community. Peter put his best foot forward in everything that he did. He was passionate, competitive, caring, responsible ... Just an all-round great guy,” Batchelor said in a release. “He was a wonderful family man and his good nature just spilled over to everyone that he met. From a fellow husband, parent, coach, teammate, friend, brother from another mother, he will be missed immensely.”
Armatis passed away April 1 after being diagnosed with COVID-19. His friends said he was a healthy man, but had been dealing with a previous sickness.
“It was up and down the last couple of weeks and it looked like he was getting better and he thought he was getting better and then he’d crash again,” Leahy said.
While COVID-18 may have claimed Armatis’ life, his friends said he won’t be defined as just another number in the pandemic.
“Peter was the most prepared coach I’ve ever worked with,” said FFC 2005 Boys Red Assistant Coach Chris Sweet. “He was always the first one there and the last one to leave.”
Sweet worked alongside Armatis for one of the Fredericksburg Football Club travel teams. He, like many fellow coaches, said the 54-year-old taught more than just soccer skills.
“Working with people first; soccer was second,” Batchelor said. “It was all about building character and being good people.”
“They’ve lost a coach, obviously, but they’ve really lost somebody who really cared about them as people,” Leahy added.
To show Armatis’ family just how much he meant to them, players took part in a caravan on Friday.
“His family was first, his family was everything,” Batchelor said.
“The family was out there in the front yard as the caravan came by and all the kids had their jerseys on and sat on the passenger side with the windows down,” Leahy added.
“Every single one of those boys want nothing more than to get back out on that field and win one for Peter,” Sweet said.
Meanwhile, the FFC plans to honor Armatis’ memory in another way.
The club set up a scholarship fund through GoFundMe Charity entitled, “Go FFC, Go Navy, Go Blues,” which reflects Armatis’ love of the club, the Navy and English Premier League side Chelsea Football Club.
“For large portions of our community travel is out of their price range; they can’t afford it,” Leahy said.
The fund will help support those kids who might not be able to afford this opportunity.
“One thing Peter always said is you can’t coach effort,” Sweet said. “So if this kid has the drive and the effort to do it, then we’ll find a way to do it.”
To donate to the fund, click here.
Spotsylvania County reported its first coronavirus-related death last week as a man in his 60s.
Anyone who came in contact with both men has been contacted by the Rappahannock Area Health District and asked to monitor their symptoms and self-quarantine for two weeks from the date of exposure.
The Rappahannock Health District includes the city of Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Caroline, King George, and Stafford Counties in Virginia.
In some patients, COVID-19 can lead to severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, heart or lung disease or compromised immune systems.
To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:
- Stay at home to the greatest extent possible
- Practice social distancing. Maintain at least six feet of space between yourself and other individuals when you must be out in public
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Avoid contact with sick people
- If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor
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