Test results have confirmed that popular soccer coach Peter Armatis died from COVID-19, making him the second known virus-associated death in the Rappahannock Area Health District.
Armatis, 54, is also the second Spotsylvania County man to die from the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The first man, Christopher Hall, 61, had some pre-existing conditions, but Armatis was physically active and healthy, according to friends.
“Any loss to our community is devastating, but it is especially tragic to lose an individual who positively impacted many young lives through his dedication to coaching youth soccer,” said Spotsylvania Battlefield District Supervisor Chris Yakabouski. “Our hearts go out to the entire Fredericksburg Football Club family.”
Armatis had “a passion for coaching and showed a true and honest love for the game,” said Grover Gibson, Fredericksburg FC’s president and executive director said in a news release from the club.
The coach died Wednesday, and it took more than a week for results of his COVID-19 test to come back, said Chris Sweet, a fellow coach and friend who spoke on behalf of the family.
On Sunday night, the local health district released confirmation of his case and reported Monday morning that it’s tracking 86 cases in the Fredericksburg area. Of that total, 42 are in Stafford County; 25 in Spotsylvania County; nine in King George County; eight in Fredericksburg; and two in Caroline County.
Sweet said he wasn’t aware of any underlying health conditions Armatis had. He said the coach started feeling sick on March 14 with gastrointestinal issues. He quarantined himself for 10 days and, when his condition didn’t improve, he went to Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center on March 24.
By then, Armatis had a low-grade fever, cough and trouble breathing. Sweet said he was put on a ventilator the next day, and was doing OK, but by March 31, “his body just kind of went into overload, and then he passed away April 1.”
Members of the Fredericksburg FC gathered Friday night to show their grief in one of the few ways that’s possible during this pandemic. More than 30 vehicles lined up for a drive-by parade in the Armatis family’s neighborhood.
Players hung black backpacks over the passenger-side doors to demonstrate support for his widow, Stacy Armatis, and their three children: Olivia, Jake and Will.
Stacy Armatis and her sons sat in their front yard and waved to the mourners, then wrapped their arms around each other in consolation. She told The Free Lance–Star on Friday that Peter Armatis was gregarious and outgoing.
“The way people would describe him is that he’s never met a stranger,” she said about her husband, a 10-year Navy veteran and avid golfer.
Adrian Batchelor, FCC recreation director, described him in the press release as an “all-around great guy.”
“Peter was just in a class of his own from that perspective—offering mentorship to others, both in and out of the soccer community, Batchelor said. “Peter put his best foot forward in everything that he did.”
The club has set up a scholarship fund that reflects his many interests. It’s on Go Fund Me and is named: “Go FFC, Go Navy, Go Blues.” Proceeds will help underprivileged kids who want to play for the club.