Nassau Community College Pitcher / Keep Smiling Foundation Founder Andrew Ammazzalorso Encourages Athletes to “Keep Smiling,” As Better Days Are Ahead.
Published by: Holly Ruvo
Interviewed by: Ben Ruvo
Andrew Ammazzalorso, Nassau Community College Baseball ’20
Andrew Ammazzalorso is a 20 year old Junior Right-handed Pitcher at Nassau Community College, studying exercise science. He Runs a Pancreatic cancer foundation called Keep Smiling Foundation, started two years ago. They have raised over $2,000 and have over 500 professional athletes spreading awareness for them.
Ben: How has your athletic career been shaped since you were a kid until now?
Andrew: My athletic career has always been my choice ever sense my Mom signed me up for Tee-ball when I was a kid. The values that my Mom and Dad have instilled in me over the years are to always earn what you receive, and that nothing you get should be given to you. For me it has always been “Am I going to be the best player on the field” that day and I can always think back to that question after practice or after that lift or after that game and answer it truthfully for myself. I pride myself on being able to go out and play no matter what life threw at you and give 110% effort no matter the situation.
Ben: Can you please give us some insight on your mental health experience?
Andrew: My mental health experience as a person has been okay through the years especially as an athlete. As an athlete they expect you to always be okay inside and always play no matter what. Deep inside you are not though. Me personally I used and still use Baseball and weight lifting as a way to escape the noises in my head and noise of everyday life. I am not afraid to say I battle my own mental health issues and that I have been depressed before. All people battle some sort of mental illness. For me I was depressed when my Dad passed away and for the past 4 years since it has happened I still battle those demons of depression every now and then but I get through it knowing he would want me to fight, for me I am able to control the voices/demons with baseball and weight lifting.
Ben: How has your mental health journey impacted you as a college athlete?
Andrew: My mental health journey as a college athlete has been a long one and is still going on. Like I said I am not afraid to admit I battle mental illnesses but I have outlets and friends to help me combat that. Most athletes have demons like these to contend with but we use our sport/ hobby as a way to channel it and make the pain go away. For me it has made me into the man I am today and I have learned to cope and deal with the things that have happened in my life, mainly losing my Father. But my Dad also made me into the man I am today and I can thank him so much for that every single day.
Ben: Do you have any advice for people who are dealing with these disorders right now?
Andrew: For people dealing with disorders: do not give up, do not lose hope, Keep Smiling, and I promise you better days will be ahead of you and good things will come to fruition.
Ben: What do you think schools and coaches could do to address this issue more?
Andrew: Schools and coaches should be more understanding of the weight they put on their athletes who represent their school and or program, because in the end it is just a game and we care for the player. Life can go on without the game but players’ lives and health is the thing that we should most care about.
Ben: What does mental health awareness for athletes mean to you?
Andrew: Mental health awareness for athletes means to me that people need to know that athletes are humans too, they are there to prove you with an entertainment, they are not perfect, and college athletes, ( to coaches ) are kids trying to chase a dream and use that sport as an outlet for stress or an outlet to make a better life for themselves and their family.