September 25, 2003

Freshman Takes Center Stage at Shea Stadium

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On the Sunday before Labor Day, freshman Tricia Amato did something any average college student would do on a Sunday afternoon. She took a nap. After her nap, Tricia then did something that very few people, let alone college students, ever do — she sang the National Anthem in front of a crowd of 26,000 at the New York Mets Shea Stadium.

“Singing the National Anthem was just a great experience in general,” recalled Amato, “and I’m really happy to have been able to do it.”

Amato’s path to the home plate of Shea Stadium begins in her hometown of Syracuse, N.Y. at Westhill High School. Supported by her parents, Robert and Virginia, Amato has been singing since she was young, but it wasn’t until high school and her involvement in school musicals that she realized the passion she had for singing.

“I just love everything about it. It’s really interesting to see the effect your singing has on people and how they relate to you through it,” said Amato.

In Amato’s senior year of high school, Ron Fickland, the boys’ soccer coach at Westhill asked Amato to sing the National Anthem at the team’s games. When the boys’ team went to the sectional finals, so did Amato, singing the National Anthem for the game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

It was while singing at the Dome that Amato got what would be called her “break,” catching the eye of Don Famillio, stadium announcer at the Carrier Dome. Impressed with Amato’s singing, he asked if she’d be willing to sing at P&C Stadium, home of the Triple-A Syracuse Skychiefs. He also told Amato that he could arrange an audition for her to sing the National Anthem for the New York Mets. Although not a Mets fan, Amato and her family jumped at the opportunity for her to sing at a major league sporting event.

“It’s not the Yankees, but I’ll take what I can get,” she joked.

Amato sent a recording of her Carrier Dome performance to the Mets, and within a week, she received a phone call from Josh Golden, the Mets Anthem representative, to schedule a date for her to sing. She and her family chose August 31, an afternoon game between the Mets and the Phillies. Just one week after Amato had moved into Cornell, she was making her major league debut at Shea Stadium.

“I think we were more excited and nervous about it than she was,” said father Robert Amato. “Tricia just sort of took it all in stride.”

The actual day was a blur for Amato. Despite a late departure from her cousin’s house in Staten Island, Amato arrived on time with her family for a 10:00 a.m. sound check at Shea Stadium. After the sound check, her family and friends waited around the stadium, watching practice and getting autographs. Tricia took a nap in the green room.

“It’s strange, but taking a nap is probably what I remember most from that day,” recalled Tricia Amato. “I think it really helped because I woke up from the nap and just went out and sang the National Anthem without really being nervous.”

Not many can take a nap before performing in front of tens of thousands of people, but for Tricia Amato it was no big deal. She’d sung the anthem countless times before, and had run through it twice in her cousins’ bathroom before leaving for the stadium. That’s all the preparation Amato needed to turn out a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

“It was really surreal,” Amato remembers, “Afterwards, people were cheering my name and my family was screaming and waving towels the stadium had given us, which they’d written my name on with a magic marker. It was just really amazing.”

Archived article by Paul Testa