By Alana Pelosi
Special to Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/29/09
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – When the HEADstrong Foundation and Hofstra University came together to hold the first Nick Collelouri Women’s Lacrosse Classic Saturday at James M. Shuart Stadium, their goal was to gain awareness for the foundation and funds for blood cancer research.
The tournament was a rousing success, raising $32,000 for research in the name of the late Nick Colleluori, the Ridley High grad who played for the men’s team at Hofstra before passing away in 2006 due to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The event had special meaning, especially to the Hofstra players that have learned so much about Nick’s legacy through his memory and their relationship with his younger brother Michael – who graduated in the spring after a standout lacrosse career.
The Women’s Classic was created to supplement the annual Nick Colleluori Classic, now in its third year as a men’s Fall Ball event. This year’s Classic is slated for Oct. 10-11 at Ridley.
“The tournament was definitely a complete success,” said Hofstra senior Courtney O’Connor, an Abington grad, “I am glad that the other teams and fans were able to hear Mrs. Colleluori’s speech about Nick and the cause because it touched everyone’s hearts.”
Cheryl Collelouri, Nick’s mother and the president of the HEADstrong Foundation, had one main message to the athletes; she wanted them to spread her son’s story, and in turn spread awareness of lymphoma. By the look of the athletes’ cleats, the spreading had already begun.
Hofstra sophomore and Ridley grad Maryann Miller, who was unable to play in the tournament after a recent surgery to repair a torn ACL, was happy to participate as a fan. “It was awesome to see all of the teams wearing the line green laces,” she said.
Both O’Connor and Miller had been to the men’s classic in the past and noted a difference that came with the location. Miller said that when the first tournament was held at Ridley it seemed the entire town was in attendance.
This event drew a better crowd than usual. “Compared to fall ball tournaments that we have hosted in the past, Saturday definitely had the best crowd turnout.” Said O’Connor. “It felt great to have more fans especially for such a good cause.”
Both players remarked that the spirit and support for the cause was very much alive. For O’Connor, she sees the tournament as one of the first steps to spreading lymphoma awareness through the women’s game as well.
“I think it was a great start and awesome way to spread Nick’s vision to the women’s lacrosse community,” she said.
While neither athlete bumped into any Philly girls that they used to play with back home, they said it was a great competition nonetheless.
“It was a gorgeous day for lacrosse and a great way to raise money for the HEADstrong Foundation, said Miller. “They were a lot of competitive teams involved and we were all honored to be a part of the first annual HEADstrong tournament for women’s lacrosse.”