Giovanni Vitrano Foundation awards first three scholarships

Scholarships are handed out to award soccer players on their way to college in honor of former Leon and TCC soccer star, Giovanni Vitrano, who died last year.
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 11:01 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - It’s been six and a half months since 20-year-old Vitrano, a former soccer star at Leon and TCC student tragically died in an accident at a Tallahassee apartment complex.

Despite the hurt, his family shone a light in the darkness.

In just half a year, the family founded the Giovanni Vitrano foundation hoping to award scholarships to soccer stars that excel on the pitch and in the classroom.

On June 2, the organization handed out its first three of those scholarships, giving three worthy footy stars from the Big Bend a total of $7,000 towards their college education.

“These are great high school students, athletes, pillars of the community and to be able to help out a little bit I think that’s the key,” said Foundation President and Gio’s father Ron Vitrano. “It helps ease the pain of what happened because you know Giovanni died six and a half months ago but to watch these young students and athletes walk away with these awards it warms my heart.”

First off, Maddie Kopka, a Sail High School student who played at Florida High, earning a 3.9 GPA and is heading to Trinity Washington University in Washington D.C. won a thousand dollar scholarship.

“It’s really competitive here,” said Kopka of the Tallahassee soccer scene. “Everyone who’s in it is a great soccer player... and it’s an honor to win out of all those people.”

The grand prize winner, Alejandro Alonso from Gadsden County, had a 3.6 GPA and dual enrolled student. He’s the second in his family to finish high school and the first to go to college. He says that his family played a big role in his support.

“They’ve always been there to support me and give me the motivation I need when I’m feeling down,” said Alonso of his family who’ve supported him through the journey. “It’s never easy when you’re doing multiple things in life but you have to have something to get through it. My family has been that something.”

Lastly, Ethan Stewart, a Leon star who is heading to Texas to attend Southwestern Assembly of God University after a degree in sports management and children’s ministry also received a thousand dollar scholarship.

Stewart played with Vitrano during his time on the pitch for “Big Red” and remembers him as a welcoming presence.

“When I first got the call to varsity my sophomore year Gio was the first person to come to me,” recalls Stewart. “He really taught me that in soccer, your team is family and you can’t really have anything like that so being able to receive a scholarship that’s in memory of Gio is awesome. It means I have a part of him that’s always going to be with me.”

Maddie Kopka, Alejandro Alonso and Ethan Stewart are the soccer stars that excelled on the pitch and in the classroom.

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