On Friday, longtime cheerleading coach Tracy Sormanti died at the age of 58. Her passing represents another heartbreaking loss for an organization that watched one of its longest-tenured players, James White, experience tragedy earlier this season with the unexpected death of his father.
In the wake of her passing, Robert Kraft delivered some powerful words about the impact Sormanti made during her time in New England.
James White tragically lost his father back in September
Set to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football on Sept. 20, the Patriots had to make a drastic change to their game plan hours before kickoff. Veteran running back James White got added to the inactive list after he suffered a tragic loss off the field.
About seven hours before kickoff, his father, Tyrone, died in a car accident. White’s father had been a captain with the Miami-Dade Police Department. His mother, Lisa, survived the crash.
As one of the most respected players within the organization, White earned plenty of public support from his teammates.
“Our hearts are heavy for James,” veteran safety Devin McCourty said after the Seattle game. “It’s just tough, man. There’s no words you can say. Just wanted to go out there and play our hearts out for him. It’s just devastating. I was heartbroken for him.”
Russell Wilson, who played alongside White at Wisconsin, also provided some heartfelt words for his former college teammate.
“My heart’s heavy because one of my teammates, James White, from Wisconsin, one of the nicest guys, one of the hardest workers, one of the best people I know, had a tough one losing his dad,” Wilson said. “My heart has been heavy all day thinking about him. The game was the game. James, I’m praying for you.”
Longtime cheerleading director Tracy Sormanti passed away on Friday
After watching James White lose his father back in September, Robert Kraft and the rest of the Patriots organization are now coping with another devastating death. On Saturday, the team announced that longtime cheerleading director Tracy Sormanti passed away Friday after a three-year battle with multiple myeloma.
She was just 58 years old.
The Rhode Island native joined the Patriots in 1983 as a cheerleader. However, after Kraft bought the team in 1994, he named Sormanti the cheerleading director.
She remained in that position for nearly 30 years. Along the way, her cheerleading squads performed at 10 Super Bowls and visited more than 30 countries.
Even as she battled cancer, Sormanti continued to fulfill her duties. In fact, it sounds like Bill Belichick rubbed off on her a little bit during her 32-year run with the Patriots.
“She rarely missed a game or a practice and took great pride in seeing her squad perform on game day,” the announcement read. “However, her greatest joy came from seeing her cheerleaders accomplish their goals off the field, and she was very proud to assemble squads of not only dancers, but doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs and public servants.”
Robert Kraft pays his respects to a valued member of the Patriots organization
For Robert Kraft, Tracy Sormanti’s death meant much more than losing a valuable employee. The Patriots owner put everything in perspective with some powerful words about what she meant to the organization.
“We are grieving the loss of a beloved member of our family today,” said Kraft. “Tracy Sormanti was one of my first hires after I bought the team, and after nearly three decades, I can confidently say that there was no one more dedicated to her job or caring and compassionate about those she coached. Like all great coaches, she was meticulous in her preparation and brought the best out of her squads.”
He further added, “She earned my utmost respect and admiration for the way her teams always performed, not just on the sidelines, but more importantly as Patriots goodwill ambassadors in our New England communities and on the many Patriots USO military tours she coordinated around the world.”
Given everything she contributed to the franchise, it’s safe to say Sormanti will be fondly remembered within the walls of Gillette Stadium (and beyond).
Ultimately, Kraft summed it up best.
“She truly loved this organization and we loved her,” he said. “Her presence will be greatly missed, but she will never be forgotten.”