By Alana Pelosi
Special to Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/25/09
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – At Hofstra University, where students are often spotted wearing yellow and blue with pride, both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams wear lime green for an even greater purpose.
Whether or not they met him, the lacrosse teams and much of the athletic community wears lime green in support of Nick Collelouri and the HEADstrong Foundation, which he created in hopes of helping other blood cancer pateints shortly before he passed away after a 14-month battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Following his 2006 death, the HEADstrong Foundation has held the Nick Collelouri Classic for college men’s teams every fall at his old high school, Ridley High, in Folsom, PA. The Fall Ball tournament has become increasingly popular, and since its inception there had been talk of having a women’s tournament as well.
This year, that dream has been fulfilled, and it is only fitting that the first women’s tournament will be held where Nick spent some of his last playing days – at Hofstra University. The event, the Nick Colleluori Women’s Classic, will be held Saturday at James M. Shuart Stadium and feature 12 teams.
“A lot of the coaches got together and we threw around the idea of it and when we expressed it to [Nick’s mother] Cheryl [Collelouri], she was gung-ho about it,” said Hofstra head coach Abby Morgan, a Great Valley graduate.
Senior attack Courtney O’Connor, an Abington grad, is one of Morgan’s players who also is “gung-ho” about the tournament. “[Holding the event at Hofstra] is definitely an honor,” O’Connor said. “Ever since the men had the tournament, we’ve wanted one of our own and it means a lot to all of us.”
This year’s senior class at Hofstra will be the first class to start Hofstra after Nick’s death. Even though O’Connor and her teammates did not know Nick Collelouri personally, they still can say that even after his death Nick still managed to touch their lives.
“It hasn’t faded yet.” O’Connor said. “It’s very close to our hearts and being at Nick’s funeral had such an impact on my life and my teammates’ lives.”
One member of the Pride, sophomore midfielder Maryann Miller, has a special connection to Nick Collleuori. Miller graduated from Ridley and heard about Collleluori and the model he set by fighting cancer with an indomitable spirit.
“As soon as they started the foundation I knew about it,” said Miller.
Miller explained that the green laces and “Relentless” t-shirts are a part of the region’s lacrosse culture. “It’s all over the area,” said Miller. “The team I played with in high school had laces and it’s even big around the colleges in the Philly area.”
The increasing popularity of the green laces, “Relentless” t-shirts, and green lacrosse sticks has not gone unnoticed. Miller, O’Connor and Morgan have all seen bits of lime green pop up at tournaments and on other campuses. “I’ve seen people I don’t even know in upstate NY wearing the green laces,” said O’Connor.
“I think another big part of it spreading is that we have a lot of former players coaching now and they tell their teams about.” Morgan added. “One had an article written about [HEADstrong] in the Baltimore Sun and the team’s motto for the year was “Relentless.’”
Morgan acknowledged that some of the students and fans that wear the HEADstrong apparel may not understand what the lime green stands for, but hopes that it will continue to grow. “It’s slowly been spreading, and hopefully after this year’s tournament it will spread some more.”