tampabay.com

Jaguars promote assistant to coach

Roger Rivard steps in for Academy's Al Peacock, whose son recently died.

By SCOTT PURKS
Published January 18, 2007


TAMPA - Academy of the Holy Names softball coach Al Peacock cried last week when he told his team he wouldn't be able to coach this season. His 33-year-old son, Bryan, died just before Christmas.

Peacock, the Jaguars coach the past two years, said he needed more time to grieve for his son, who succumbed to a life-long struggle with kidney complications.

Assistant coaches Roger Rivard and Gary Nash wiped away a few tears themselves then both vowed to carry on with the Jaguars.

On Wednesday, Academy officials confirmed Rivard would be the head coach and Nash the assistant.

"I'm glad I have the means and time to help," Rivard said. "I'm glad I'm here. I believe in this school and these girls."

Rivard, whose daughter, Emily, played four years for Academy before graduating in 2004, has served as an assistant for a few years and as a Tampa Mustangs head coach many years.

Academy junior catcher Becky Vyzas said the team couldn't be happier that Rivard was the one who took over.

"We loved playing for (Peacock), and it was hard for all of us to see him so hurt by his son's death," Vyzas said. "It is a good thing, though, that Roger was there for us. We know Roger, and he knows us. We all feel now that everything is going to work out."

It looks like Academy should again be competitive with anyone, largely because of Vyzas (.547 avg., 41 RBIs, three homers as a sophomore), sophomore pitcher Kayla Suskauer (14-1, 0.42 ERA) and senior shortstop Kristina Cruz (.420 avg., 31 RBIs, five homers).

The Jaguars went 21-4 last season before losing in the region finals, a finish that could be improved this time around.

For the moment, everyone is optimistic with Rivard at the helm.

"We are all still tremendously saddened by the passing of Al's son, Bryan," Academy athletic director Pete Young said. "Everyone will miss Al, and we hope he can stay involved in some capacity.

"Now we're very fortunate and thankful that we have coaches of the caliber of Roger and Gary who can step in to run the program for us this year."