By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Staff Writer
When somebody has a passion for something, that drive and determination lives on long after they are gone from this Earth. John Biasi had an unending passion for softball, and helping young women throughout South Jersey achieve their dreams of playing at the collegiate level. Many years ago he launched the New Jersey Gators travel program and it has become one of the top softball factories in the region, placing dozens of players in NCAA programs.
Biasi, a Haddon Township resident and native of Pennsauken, left some huge shoes to fill when he passed away suddenly on March 28. He was only 53 years old.
Not long after, on April 6, an outdoor memorial service was held at Lions Lake Softball Complex in Voorhees, Camden County. The event nearly filled the entire field with former players, parents, fellow coaches, friends — and just so many other people who were impacted by the life of John Biasi, who was known as a fiery, boisterous coach who demanded the best from his players, and so often got just that.
“I played for John for about two years. He was tough on us, but in a loving way, and he really was a great coach. He helped us all reach our best potential and made us feel like we could reach our dreams. I cried when I found out. It was mostly shock. We had just seen him on (the previous) Thursday. But we just have to keep on trucking, that’s what he would want us to do,” said Allison Amadio, a freshman at Cedar Creek who helped lead the Pirates to a South Jersey Group 2 championship this spring. “He started this program, he built it from the ground up, he ran it. This was a full-time job for him, it was 24/7. Nobody knew when he was able to sleep. He was such a big factor in the success of all of this.”
What makes Biasi’s passing even more heartbreaking is that in short order he would have become a grandfather for the first time. His daughter, Katelyn “K.B.” Anthony, of Glassboro, is pregnant with her first child.
“To me, he was always ‘Dad.’ He was never just an average dad, and everyone who knew him, knew that. He strived to be the best dad he could be and did everything he could for me, likewise, the same love and dedication went into his coaching and players. He started coaching me in T-ball and we both got to know who would become some of my lifelong friends, and their parents. I remember spending weekends with him at local fields, just the two of us having a blast. He was my best friend,” K.B. said in a prepared statement at the memorial service. “He was my hero, my idol; I always thought he was invincible.”
The New Jersey Gators website (newjerseygators.com) had this testimonial posted after John passed away:
“For years, he championed the sport as well as his individual players. He challenged those around him to be the best they could be in all aspects of life. He has inspired so many excellent athletes. But beyond the fields, he has inspired so many more to be excellent people; to serve others, to seek to do what’s right, to make the most of every opportunity, and to shoot for the stars The softball community has lost a legend, a leader, and an inspiring & empowering coach and friend that can never be replaced. John spent countless hours coaching our children. There wasn’t a day that passed that he didn’t think about what was next. He poured every ounce of his energy into making us who we are. He wanted everyone to know who the NJ Gators were. His passion was unparalleled.
“John loved to win, but more importantly he loved to make our girls bigger & better, stronger & more powerful. Not just physically, but emotionally too, and that’s what made the difference. John was tough. He never settled for less than the best. Our children have strength and knowledge that is beyond the norm. John drove them to be best. John never let anything go. He never gave up. He was outstanding at developing our children physically and emotionally. Gator Nation will never be the same.”
Devin Coia, a Vineland High School graduate and rising sophomore at Monmouth University, credits Biasi with helping her achieve her goal of playing Division I softball.
“I played for the Gators since I was 12, so for six years. It was an amazing six years. I came back this winter to work with the team and that’s something I’ll always do. He’s the best coach I could have asked for. I wouldn’t be at Monmouth if it wasn’t for him. My best memory was at nationals and I was catching — and he was a catcher, so he was always hard on catchers — and I remember we played this one team that liked to steal, but every runner that tried I threw out, and he was so proud of me. He hugged me after the game, he was so excited. All of us, that’s all we wanted to do was make him proud and I felt like I made him proud that game,” she said at the memorial event. “The training here helped make me the player I am today and I attribute a lot of the reason I’m playing at school right now to him. I think the reason I was successful in high school had a lot to do with him, and during the recruiting process you can’t ask for a better coach. There are so many colleges coaches (interested in this program) because of the relationship John had with them. He did everything to make sure we got a chance to go off and play at school.”
Coia was, understandably, emotional at that event when remembering a man who meant so much to her and her family.
“I’m very proud, and emotional, too. Looking back, he had such an impact on us and got us all to where we wanted to be,” Coia said. “We’re living our dreams because of him. That’s why I’m so emotional. He impacted so many people’s lives and if he were here he’d be so happy to see all his past players.”

Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays