Rick Piesko, who managed Dr. Phillips Little League’s 6- to 8-year-old coach-pitch softball team, died suddenly Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Like any community-based sports organization, the Dr. Phillips Little League is one big family.
This week, that family — and those around the Dr. Phillips area — is mourning the loss of one of their own.
Softball manager Rick Piesko died Wednesday, Oct. 24, of a sudden heart attack — he was 48. Piesko leaves behind his two daughters Lauretta, 15, and Sophia, 8. His viewing and funeral were held Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Holy Family Catholic Church.
“He was an amazing dad — he loved his kids more than anything in the world, and he did everything for them,” said Deanna Piesko, Rick’s ex-wife. “He coached our youngest daughter’s, Sophia’s, softball team the past three or four years. He loved softball, and he loved Dr. Phillips Little League. Both of our kids have played with Dr. Phillips Little League.”
The love for his daughters is actually what got Rick — a longtime sports fan — into coaching softball for DPLL in the first place.
After Lauretta and Sophia decided they wanted to try out for softball, Rick Piesko dived head-first into the opportunity; he was that kind of a father.
A few years ago, Rick Piesko took up the mantle of manager for the 6- to 8-year-old coach-pitch softball team for DPLL, where he got to coach Sophia for the last two years.
And if you ask anyone, including DPPL Board of Directors member Matt Grant, they will tell you that there was no person more perfect for coaching those teams than Rick Piesko.
“Little League, despite what many people want to make it is rec league — it should be fun — and Rick always had the right attitude,” Grant said. “He took it seriously, because he wanted the girls to have a good experience, but he never took it too seriously that it was anything other than what it was. This is rec league softball, everyone should be playing and everybody should be having fun. He made softball fun for all of his girls.”
Although his personality made him a great fit for his role as a softball coach, there was another trait that many in the DPLL community remember: his willingness to help.
Anytime DPLL needed help in anyway, Rick Piesko was the first person to raise his hand and offer assistance.
His reliability was known throughout the community, and it was always appreciated, said Lee Liddick, who has been coaching in the DPLL system the past two years and is currently taking over Grant’s job of overseeing softball.
“When I went to him and asked whether or not he would take the other (coach-pitch) team if we created a second team, there was no hesitation — he took it on,” Liddick said. “And I noticed that with Rick over the past couple of years: Anything needs to get done, he was always there to do it.
“He was always the first one in line to put his hand up — he will take care of it,” he said. “I never saw him late, he was always here early — he would help me get the field and stuff ready during his games. He was just that kind of guy. He is the epitome of someone you want in your organization when you’re dealing with kids.”
Although his time coaching softball was a big part of his life, his daughters were even bigger.
Any time he could spend with Lauretta and Sophia, he would, and they both knew the love and care he had for them.
His daughters always will have those memories of him, which for Lauretta happened the weekend prior to his passing.
“She said to me Thursday, ‘You know, I didn’t get to say goodbye to him, but I had the best day with him on Sunday — we got to go golfing and we had dinner,’” Deanna Piesko said. “‘And the last words that he said to me and I said to him was, ‘I love you.’ What more could I possibly ask for?’”