The cars inched along White Lake Drive, each link of the 30-plus vehicle caravan marked by a black backpack draped over the passenger-side door. The bags belonged to Peter Armatis’ youth soccer players.
Armatis, a coach and board member with Fredericksburg FC, died Wednesday morning of presumptive COVID-19 complications, according to his wife Stacy. He was 54.
On Friday evening, Armatis’ former wards and colleagues with FFC staged a social-distancing compliant procession through his Spotsylvania County neighborhood. As they drove by, Stacy Armatis and her two sons, Jacob, 16, and William, 14, sat in front of a tree in their front yard and waved back at the mourners.
“He was a very gregarious person, had a very outgoing personality,” Stacy Armatis said of her husband. “The way people would describe him is that he’s never met a stranger.”
Armatis, a 10-year Navy veteran and avid golfer, didn’t become acquainted with soccer until middle age. But what he lacked in firsthand knowledge, he made up for with a voracious appetite for acquiring new hobbies.
“He had never fished in his life, then we had every lure known to mankind,” Stacy Armatis recalled with a laugh. “That’s what he spent all of his free time doing. He would take up an interest and dive in full-speed ahead.”
Starting with pickup games at the Fredericksburg Field House, soccer quickly became Armatis’ passion project. He started with FFC as an assistant coach, working with the club’s recreation teams. This past fall, Armatis was awarded the 2007 Boys Black team, and with it a chance to work with the club’s highest talent level.
“His approach was: how do we connect with these kids as individuals, and how do we build up the player?” said Kevin Leahy, a close friend and fellow coach.
Aiden Marvashti, 14, played under Armatis for four years and rode in Friday’s procession along with his mother.
“You could tell he wanted the best for everyone who was playing, with soccer or anything else,” Marvashti said. “I never saw him get upset with any player. But he wasn’t too supportive; he would make sure things would get done.”
Stacy Armatis said her husband started feeling sick on March 14. Sniffles and a dry cough gave way to intestinal issues and chest congestion, and he was admitted to Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center on the evening of March 24. Less than 24 hours after being hospitalized, Armatis was moved to the ICU and intubated.
He received a test for coronavirus last week, but the results are still pending, Stacy Armatis said. Peter Armatis was already unconscious and under anesthesia when a nurse facilitated a brief FaceTime call three days into his hospital stay.
It was the last time she’d see her husband.
“That is the hardest part of it,” she said. “There was no communication from his end. We’re still trying to get those answers.”
Joey LoMonaco: 540/368-5045