By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, posted 10/6/08
Cabrini College junior attacker Casey Grugan says Nick Colleluori continues to be an inspiration to those who played with him at Ridley High.
“I remember how long he fought and how hard he fought,” said Grugan, a United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association third-team Division III All-American last year. “It was unbelievable how hard he worked.
“It’s a shame that something that bad can happen to such a good person. It makes you want to fight that mu ch ha rder.”
On Saturday, Grugan and the Cavaliers will get the chance to honor the memory of a man whose fight against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has led to a foundation and lacrosse tournament that has captured the imagination of the entire lacrosse world.
From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Ridley High Athletic Complex in Folsom, Pa., 13 Division I and III teams will play in the 2nd Annual Nick Colleluori Classic. Over 7,000 people are expected to attend a special Fall Ball tournament that has already helped the HEADstrong Foundation raise over $200,000 for blood cancer research. Admission is $10.
Nick was a standout lacrosse player at Ridley who was diagnosed with lymphoma as a freshman playing at Hofstra three years ago. Nicknamed “Head,” Colleluori himself created the idea of the HEADstrong Foundation as part of his dream to raise awareness and, ultimately, to cure blood cancer.
His fight to live may have ended after 14 months when he died on Nov. 28, 2006, but his cause has grown at a rate perhaps even he would not have predicted.
Nick’s mother, Cheryl Colleluori, the Foundation President, said the goal is to raise $250,000 at this year’s Classic. She noted that the tournament will be manned by 150 volunteers.
“It’s just an honor to play for his name and go back to Ridley High,” said Cabrini senior midfielder Pat Grenier, also a Ridley grad. “He (Nick) was the captain my junior year and he treated every practice like it was a state championship game.”
Grugan, the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Player of the Year last season, said Colleluori intensity set him above the rest.
“He had so much leadership,” Grugan said. “He was such an inspiring person, everything he did he gave 110 percent.”
Cabrini coach Steve Colfer agreed with his players, saying the Colleluori Classic is much more than just another Fall Ball Tournament.
“It truly is one of the greatest honors that has been bestowed on our program in my 9 years as head coach,” he said. “We take our participation and affiliation with Headstrong very seriously. The guys look forward to everything to do with the tournament. We are trying to cover our campus in lime green t-shirts”
Aside from Grugan and Grenier, there are five other Ridley grads on the Cabrini roster: senior midfielder Chris Cavaliere, sophomore midfielder Dan Terenick and freshmen John McSorly (defense), Steve Gregg (long-stick midfielder) and Brian Hill (attacker). Cabrini, located 15 miles north of Ridley in the Philadelphia suburbs, features 31 of its 48 players from the Philadelphia area.
“Our players from Ridley HS know Nick’s story very well,” said Colfer, whose Cavaliers have won the past eight PAC championships and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals last year. “And I ask them to share their stories and memories with their current teammates to educate them about Nick’s courageous battle and so that each of us when faced with adversity can draw on Nick’s courage.
“It motivates all of us to do the very best we can each day in lacrosse and life.”
At 1:00 p.m. there will be a lacrosse clinic and autograph session given by professional and ex-college lacrosse players. It is open to all paid tournament attendees between 3rd and 8th grades. Attendees must bring a helmet, gloves, and arm pads to participate in the clinic.
There will be a Vendor Village, which will include a number of lacrosse manufactures and retailers along with some cancers awareness affiliates. There will also be a lacrosse Dunk Tank with some special guests as well as with some other special lacrosse event activities provided by the vendors.
For more information about the tournament and the HEADstrong Foundation, please visit www.HEADstrongfoundation.org