Dozens of students and faculty gathered on the Quad on a warm Thursday evening to honor and support victims of sexual abuse.
As students trickled one by one to the paved circle on the Quad, soft murmurs among the usual buzz of the Quad, was all that was heard.
The sun was setting on a long, warm day and a heavy topic was at hand. There was a soft glow surrounding the figure of Coach Nick Fuscardo, who made his way towards the circle. He humbly greeted some in attendance before grabbing a chair and sitting in the southeast portion of the circle.
Fuscardo was perfectly content, despite having just lost a tough game to Saddleback hours earlier. Joined at first by two players and then later by three others, they sat back, covered in a dusting of the red sand; spirits weighted by their already physically and emotionally toiling afternoon.
It was nothing more than Fuscardo’s kind heart and loving nature that earned him this honor.
Fuscardo, who grew up the child of Italian immigrants, was instilled with the values of respect for all he encounters, women included. It’s apparent to anyone who meets him. Upon first meeting Fuscardo, one is welcomed with open arms as if you’re old friends who had only seen each other last week. His patience and honesty inspires the company he keeps.
“I have two daughters. I’d want any man to respect them completely,” the longtime coach said. “If anyone were to hurt them; their boyfriends, spouses…I’d want them to come to me immediately.”
It’s not just about his daughters. Fuscardo carries this attitude with him to the baseball field as well. He expects the same from his players.
It’s Fuscardo’s respect, honesty and kindness policy that make him the inspiring man he is. But don’t take his warmth for weakness. His wisdom and leadership skills are what have gotten him to where he is today.
“A student who participated in last year’s event nominated Coach Fuscardo because she was only going to share part of her story with the [Fullerton College] community, but after seeing the sincere compassion on Coach Fuscardo’s face, she felt his support and decided to share her whole story,” said Yvette Ramirez, speech professor and co-founder of the Take Back the Night Committee.
It was during last year when Fuscardo and his baseball team did exactly what they had done this past Thursday night.
After finishing up a grueling game the team made the effort, taking the lead from their coach, to take off their caps and sit in support of a few brave women who spoke up at the first Take Back the Night Vigil. It was Fuscardo’s kind warm face, as well as his fervent attention, that inspired Nancy Noble to speak and discuss her full story.
Noble, the former wife of a coach who committed sexual assault against minors, was so moved by the warmth and genuity of Fuscardo. She spoke up again this year and discussed how the spouses, children and loved ones of predators suffer as well. Although it may be a completely different type of pain, it’s punishment nonetheless.
Ramirez, Noble and Krystal Patterson, another student and speaker, have formed the Take Back the Night Committee at Fullerton College. Together they decided to honor Fuscardo at his April 9 game with the “Yvette Ramirez Award,” which is “given to individuals who have the courage to step outside the box and encourage survivors to share their stories.”
The award is sponsored by Mosaic Movement which is a nonprofit that focuses on supporting advocacy in communities all throughout our nation.
Beyond the individual impact, there was an even greater one made. The Fullerton College Men’s baseball team made history last year by being the first college athletic team in the nation to acknowledge, attend and support a Take Back the Night vigil. This year was no different.
“We’re just really proud of Coach for standing up for a good cause,” said Riley Roberts, first baseman for The Hornets.
Roberts was one of the five players who showed up on Thursday night in support of Fuscardo and the Take Back the Night vigil. Infielders Laine Huffman, Brett Halasz, Anthony Seminaris and center fielder Bill Austin, sat on the ground in respectful silence. Their attention not just for the speakers at the microphone, but for their mentor who sat at their right.
Having young athletes intently listening to their peers, raised the importance of the message of the vigil. These young men provided moral support by a simple act showing that support exists within the college community.
Fuscardo’s attitude and actions speak volumes. Even as he sat on the small white folding chair as the sunset on the Fullerton College Quad. A man’s man raised in an All-American male dominated sport, putting aside any trace of machismo and supporting those who may have been perceived as weak and broken; with nothing but an open ear and a loving patient heart.
For more information on Take Back the Night Organization visit takebackthenight.org/
For information on Sexual Assault Awareness Month: April at Fullerton College visit cadena.fullcoll.edu