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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Father of women’s soccer player makes donation to team

Dean Vagnozzi previously donated heart monitors to the women’s soccer program. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

The father of St. Joe’s women’s soccer player senior Gabrielle Vagnozzi made a donation of $27,000 to the women’s soccer team.

The money donated by Dean Vagnozzi, a former real estate investor, is being used for new bleachers, benches and shelters at the Sweeney Field. Dean Vagnozzi said he made the gift in honor of his daughter’s final soccer season at St. Joe’s and to honor the soccer organization.

“I love what soccer has taught her, and I’m just helping out the best I can,” Dean Vagnozzi said. “I just see how much soccer has meant to my kid, I see how much she loves it, I see the work ethic she has [acquired from soccer].”

Gabrielle Vagnozzi has been playing soccer since she was six years old, and said she decided to attend St. Joe’s because she said it felt like she was joining a family.

“SJU changed my life,” Gabrielle Vagnozzi said. “With the soccer team, I now have 30 best friends.”

Dean Vagnozzi said he donated money for benches and shelters as a way of giving back and saying thank you to St. Joe’s and to the team that changed his daughter’s life.

“Gabrielle has said it a million times that it’s like a family,” Dean Vagnozzi said. “The school [is] close knit and that’s probably the word I would use,” Dean Vagnozzi said. “Family.”

Head Coach Jess Mannella said the culture she fosters in the women’s soccer team emphasizes the importance of school, soccer and creating the feeling of family.

“We always say that we want [the girls] to be bridesmaids in each others’ weddings and godparents to their kids,” Mannella said. “I’m talking on the field and off the field. It’s special that you get these 25 or 29 other people to be a part of it.”

Gabrielle Vagnozzi said she did not find out her dad donated money to the team until one of her coaches mentioned it to her.

“My dad donated because he knows how much St. Joe’s means to me and how much these past few years have been the best of my life,” Gabrielle Vagnozzi said. “This is his way of giving back.”

According to head coach Jess Mannella, Dean Vagnozzi’s donation will be used for new seating facilities so players have a place to sit during games that is sheltered from rain and other weather elements.

“[The benches look] very professional. We set [them] up as more of a soccer atmosphere [in] a stadium, so now the benches are on the other side [of the fan section],” Mannella said. “That’s great for the student athlete experience, it’s great for the fan experience, and it’s also great for recruiting.”

Gabrielle Vagnozzi said the new shelters make Sweeny Field look better and protect the players when it’s cold.

“When we walk out, we put all of our jerseys on the bleachers and it just looks nice,” Gabrielle Vagnozzi said. “It looks good with the bench.”

To Mannella, this donation is a representation of what the Vagnozzi family has meant to the women’s soccer team.

“The Vagnozzis have been amazingly supporting of our program,” Mannella said. “We appreciate them more than anything and really, it really helped us look higher level. We’re doing much better on the field the past four years since Gabby’s been here and been successful, so we’re just very thankful.”

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