By Anthony Caruso III
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 12/31/20
The lacrosse world is mourning the passing this week of Rocco Granato, a popular lacrosse writer also known as the “Wings Phanatic” for his devotion to the Philadelphia Wings.
An official cause of death has not been announced yet. He was believed to be 55.
Granato wrote for In Lacrosse We Trust since 2012, covering the Wings and the National Lacrosse League. He also was a Wings season ticket holder since the franchise’s inception in 1987.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, Rocco Granato,” the Philadelphia Wings said in a statement. “Rocco has been a devoted Wings fan, and a Wings Season Ticket Member since the National Lacrosse League’s inaugural season in 1987.
“Rocco has not only left his mark on our franchise, but his passion for the game has made an impact on the entire Philadelphia lacrosse community. Rocco will forever be a part of our Wings family. Rest in peace, Rocco.”
Granato also covered college lacrosse for ILWT.
“Late last night, we were devastated to learn of the passing of longtime ILWT member Rocco Granato,” In Lacrosse We Trust said in a tweet. “Rocco had been with ILWT since 2012, covering lacrosse everywhere he could with a level of enthusiasm unmatched by anyone. He was one of the game’s fiercest supporters.”
Granato was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve from 1983 through 1995. He is survived by a wife and two children.
Kevin Crowley, a Wings player for five seasons (2012-2014; 2019-present) and Philly club coach and director for Fusion, said on Facebook that Granato was a great ambassador for the sport.
“From that moment, I began to realize what it meant and why it was so special to be an athlete in Philadelphia,” Crowley said. “Scrolling through his Facebook pictures, you can tell he lived and breathed Philly sports, especially his beloved Wings. He embodied the spirit of Philadelphia sports fan and the loyal, loud, and proud. Above all, he was a great friend, who always had my back. My heart goes out to the Granato family. You’ll be missed Rocco!”
Another Philly lacrosse coach and director, NXT’s Brett Manney – captain of the New England Black Wolves who previously played for the Wings – said Granato’s passion was rare.
“I would say that he is arguably not one of the biggest Wings fans, but also one of the biggest lacrosse fans,” Manney said. “He loved the professional teams from Philly, but more importantly, the few hometown Philly professional players had a sweet spot in his heart. Rocco was loyal, loving, passionate, and proud to be a fan. He trekked from Vancouver to New England to watch lacrosse and his legacy I hope lives on in a special way.
“He always waited for me after games even when I was the last one of the room. When we would play in Philly, I would tip my hat to him after the anthem knowing he was a proud veteran.
“I can even remember the last time I saw him after the last game we played before COVID-19 shutdown was in Philly. And there he was waiting for me. He asked me for the 50th time when I am coming back.”
Some social media tributes: