Some wore Towson University items, others bore UMBC jerseys and Columbia Volleyball Club gear.

There was at least one player from the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, another from the University of Michigan, and a coach from UCLA.

Despite the diverse allegiances, the roughly 300 people who gathered Saturday at Towson University's West Village Commons Ballroom were all members of Team Giovanazzi — honoring the life of Greg Giovanazzi, a NCAA volleyball champion, college and Olympic coach and Catonsville resident.

And they were members, too, of the team of his wife, Deb Moriarty, vice president for student affairs at Towson University and president of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, and their daughter, Casey Giovanazzi.


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"It's incredibly overwhelming," said Moriarty of the support. "All week we've been wrapped in a blanket of love from the university and the community. It will sustain me for a very long time."

Giovanazzi, 54, died in his sleep March 19 at the family's home. He had suffered from debilitating migraine headaches for much of is his life, at times causing great pain, yet nevertheless excelled as a coach and mentor to hundreds of players.

During the "Life is Good" celebration in his honor at TU, colleagues and friends recalled Giovanazzi as a man filled with passion for life, a love of sport and a capacity to lift those around him.

"He was a wonderful father, a great husband and always supportive of Deb's role as a community and chamber leader," said Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson chamber.

The event was a reflection not only of love for Giovanazzi, but admiration and respect for Moriarty as well.

That respect was reflected in the turnout of the Towson community, and also in their attire. Moriarty had asked for an informal event, suggesting "Hawaiian shirts" — and no funeral flowers.

Paul Schwab, a Towson attorney and Lutherville resident, showed up in a yellow and green short-sleeve flower print.

"I think it's the first time I've worn this," he said, smiling.

"Deb has been so involved in the community, on events and with the Towsontown Spring Festival," said Schwab, a chamber member. "She's done a great job. It's important to come out to support her."

Hafford said the chamber fielded calls of condolence all this past week, and got together with members of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations and Radebaugh Florists, also in Towson, to solve the "no funeral flowers" request.

Instead, arrangements of bright spring flowers stood atop every table in the hall, and the heart-shaped urn that held Giovanazzi's ashes were accompanied by flowing red and yellow blossoms.

"We wanted to do something, so the chamber an the GTCCA paid for the flowers," said Hafford. "I think it suits him. He touched so many lives, and was so bright."

GTCCA President David Kosak added that, "in times like this, you see how Towson is one family."

"That's what makes our community unique," he said. "It's important. When a member of our family needs us, we're there."

Ed Kilcullen, past president of the GTCCA, said he came as a show of support for Moriarty, a friend he has come to know since their time serving as co-chairs of the University Relations Committee. In that capacity the two worked on issues that, at times, had divided TU from Towson neighborhoods.

"She's demonstrated a real commitment to the community," he said.