Parents aren’t always right, but then sometimes they are. It can take us by surprise and often takes us a little while to realize it. So when my parents met Dan “Provo” Provenzano for the first time and told me “there is a story there” I didn’t really know what they meant. But they were right, as they sometimes are. Provo definitely has quite the story.
Provo was born in 1973, to mother Mary Jo Cerretto Provenzano in a local Rochester hospital. He studied at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio and became the athletic equipment manager at UR in 2006. Since then, Provo has become an integral part of Rochester athletics.
Provo has a way of reaching out to even the shyest of freshmen, making them feel welcome in the athletic community. Among strict coaches, a sometimes frigid training staff and, of course, the daunting seniors who rule the team (at least inside the locker room), Provo is a beacon of warmth and, let’s face it, maternal care.
Not because he does our laundry (ok, maybe a little) but because when you step onto Fauver stadium and officially become a “Yellowjacket,” Provo assumes the role of the omnipresent positive force in your collegiate athletic life. No longer are you hugging mom after a stellar performance or getting a “toughen up and you’ll get ’em next time” punch in the shoulder from Dad. Now it’s Provo, greeting you after every half of every game with a fist bump from out the window of his office with a sly smile,and word of encouragement.
Don’t be fooled – Provo is more than just a cheerleader and laundromat operator. He is a star entertainer amid hundreds of wannabes. His stage: the counter over which he hands out equipment. His audience: the athletes and anyone else brave enough to enter the dingy dungeon that is the Fauver locker area. You can almost always hear Provo singing and jamming out on his air guitar to songs ranging from “Get Low” by Lil John to “Cotton Eye Joe.”
Provo has gained celebrity status on campus for his entertaining antics and for the genuine compassion that he demonstrates for each and every athlete lucky enough to know him. It was an honor to have him join me for a lunch break at Douglass Dining Center, and it was no surprise that our table quickly filled up with other student athletes eager to be graced by such star power.
But Provo doesn’t do this job for the fame. “I love the kids and the parents…” he says, “every now and then you get treats like homemade chili… but the kids make it more than a job.”
Every year for four years, I have been to an athletic banquet celebrating the end of another season. Women’s soccer coach Thomas “Sike” Dardaganis always does his bit on thanking the staff – the trainers without whom the team would never have survived past the first few days of preseason, the athletic director for whatever it is that he does, and then there is Provo.
Sike starts out by saying to the crowd – mostly parents, many of whom are fairly unhappy with the outcome of the season, Sike’s coaching style, or their daughters’ playing time –“this guy loves your children probably more than you do.” Cue eye roll.
You can feel the tension in the room as bewildered parents contemplate whom this could possibly be. But all is made right when Sike asks for a big round of applause for…drum roll…Provo! The tension is relieved and parents nod their assent and applaud fervently. I mean, he washes our stinky, sweaty laundry every single day. If that’s not love then I don’t know what is.
Provo’s magnetic personality and positive attitude make him a captivating entertainer. Parents of UR athletes can be assured that their children are in good hands with this star.
“He is a funny guy and is always so positive,” student athlete and junior Ashely Hunt said of Provo. Senior Kathryn Rowe agreed. “Provo knows us all so well and makes a point of connecting with each and every athlete, plus he’s hilarious,” she said.
Parents and students alike should know that this guy does more than just keep your jerseys smelling good. Provo is a celebrity on campus at UR, a star, and perhaps even a diamond in the upstate New York snow.
Van Der Ven is a Take Five student.