John J. Sonzogni, Jr. MD
December 01, 2008
It is with deepest sympathy that we say goodbye to one of our own, our Team Physician Dr. John Sonzogni, Jr., who passed away on December 1, 2008 after a brief illness. In 1992, at a time when doctors in this area did not want to work with athletics programs at small colleges, “Doc” took a chance and agreed to take on little ole’ Nyack College. Being the first Team Orthopedic, he was an integral part in establishing the medical care of the student athletes. He saw the Athletic Department grow from 7 sports to 11, from 80 athletes to 180, and change affiliations from NAIA to NCAA Division II. Nyack was blessed to have his expertise and passion. He went above and beyond the call - he gave of himself. Whether being there during games, seeing us in the ER and coming to the office after hours. On several occasions he even met with us at his home – he cared!
He never asked for anything in return - he just gave! For almost 17 years we’ve been blessed to have a man of his caliber working with us. The list of professional teams he has worked with is very impressive, having served as the team physician for the New Jersey Nets, New York Giants, NY/NJ Metro Stars, and Men's and Women's World Cup Soccer teams. He treated people, not just injuries. I’ve seen him be tough with that stubborn athlete, be point blank with the NBA star, yet gentle with that freshman soccer player who is crying after hearing her ACL is blown. Yes, he was rough around the edges, especially when he had to be, but oh, such a heart. He had a touch all his own and an abundance of passion – he cared!
He loved Nyack Athletics and he loved the athletes. He also touched the greater Nyack College Community. It didn’t matter if you were a regular student, faculty, staff, or even a parent, Doc made the time. When insurance, or lack thereof, was an issue, we would hear, “Whatever you need, we’ll make it work!” I think we stumped him a few times. He wasn’t afraid to say, “Hey, I don’t know what’s going on here, but we’ll find out,” and he did. He went the extra mile. Doc took a chance on us. Coming to Nyack and building the Athletic Training Services was not an easy task. Yet, Doc was there. From treating our athletes, donating equipment, getting our athletes into specialists, to overlooking those with no insurance, - he made it work. I’d often ask Doc if he had any more favors left- he’d called them all in. Our athletes have been seen by some of the top specialist in the country because of Doc- he made the phone calls, he got it done – he cared!
Doc leaves behind his son Dylan, his parents John and Mildred, and his three siblings and their families. Often Dylan came to Nyack with his dad. During office visits we would hear the latest story of a fish they caught or the wonderful time they had on a recent trip. His face would light up as he shared his son with us – he was his life. Doc lived life to the fullest and his goal was to share it with as many as he could.
We will miss you Doc. You were more than just our Team Physician – you were apart of our family and you’ve touched the lives of so many here at Nyack College. We will miss your expertise, we will miss you strolling in for physicals just a little late, and we will miss those BIG hands. Thank you for your service, thank you for friendship, thank you for your support, and thank you for your love. My only prayer is that we touched you as much as you touched us!