S. Burlington Tuesday, March 31st
The University of Vermont athletic deparment and community lost a special member of its family. After a long battle with kidney disease, Mary Ann Gucciardi passed away this weekend at the age of 86, but her impact will never be gone.
Players, coaches and administrators too numerous to mention have walked through the doors at the University of Vermont, but there's only one Mama Gooch.
"She was, as her name would indicate, she was sort of the Mama of UVM Athletics.", said UVM Director of Athletics Jeff Schulman.
Mary Anne Gucciardi, affectionately known to everyone as Mama Gooch, was a beloved member of the UVM athletic family for decades. She was a longtime leader of both the school's athletic booster club, the Catamont Club and the Friends of Men's Basketball and Men's Hockey.
Following the 1985 season, Mary Anne and her late husband Richard were presented with the Athletic Department Award, honoring their loyal support to the UVM program, and in 1999, the new fitness center on the south side of Gutterson was named in the couple's honor and that name will remain when the new multi-purpose facility is completed.
"Part of what's special about UVM athletics is sort of the family feel that we have and Mama Gooch, for probably fifty years or more, epitomized that.", said Schulman.
But it was the unofficial role Mama Gooch played that may have been her most important contribution to the Catamount Country. She prepared countless charity dinners, regularly hosted UVM teams at her home and provided a constant supply of love and support for both player and coach alike.
"Mama Gooch is one of those people that stand out as a pillar in this community as far as just welcoming, caring, taking an interest, and just made you feel at home.", said UVM men's basketball head coach John Becker.
WCAX Sports Director Mike McCune shares his memories of Mama Gooch. "Reporters don't want to be part of the story, but in this case I'll make an exception. Whenever I've come to a UVM men's or women's basketball game over the years, one of the first things I would do was stop and say hi to Mama Gooch. If she had made cookies or brownies for the players, she would usually save one for me. Several years, should would give me a tie, like this one, for Christmas. And when she did, I would always wear it the next time i was one the air at the station, so Mama Gooch, this is for you."