By Chris Goldberg & Matthew De George
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/16/10
There is perhaps no team that looks forward to the Nick Colleluori Classic as much as Hofstra University.
The Pride players – even though they are a few years removed from the time when
Nick Colleluori was a player there – know what the annual Fall Ball tournament means to the lacrosse world, and to them.
“It’s an honor to be here,” said Hofstra senior defenseman Adam Mojica (Springfield-Delco). “It stands for the best thing, while trying to spread lacrosse at the same time.”
The 4th annual Nick Colleluori Classic – which brought 20 teams from Division I, II and II over two days – drew more than 7,000 people last week to Ridley High. the event raised well over $100,000 for the HEADstrong Foundation in its quest to cure blood cancer through research and awareness.
The tournament honors the memory of Nick “Head” Colleluori, a former Ridley great who died four years ago after a valiant fight against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The HEADstrong Foundation, which Colleluori himself created, sponsors dozens of events annually, and spread its message through lime green apparel, most notably through its popular shoes laces.
Hofstra has participated every year in the tourney and the Hofstra women’s program has hosted the Nick Colleluori Women’s Classic for two years. The men’s players assist in running that tournament.
“This is just a great tournament, and I love coming back home, too,” said Mojica. “This is our foundation as well as the Colleluori’s and we just want to keep it going. The bigger it gets, the better.”
Added Hofstra junior defenseman Mark Mullen: It’s great to come home and play in this great tournament. It’s great competition. I like the atmosphere, and it’s just a great cause, raising money for cancer.”
Click for these stories on the event:
Recap of Day1 highlights
All mourn passing of Bellarmine coach Jack McGetrick
D1 players, coaches look back on Day1
Penn State Abington basks in event
Cancer survivor Clifford loves giving back
Cabrini players enjoy connection with Colleluori event
Eastern’s Benz is winning fight against blood cancer
D II, III coaches weigh in on event
Mount St. Mary’s coach Tom Gravante is renowned for being a blood cancer survivor himself. His team came Saturday for the second time.
“It’s just a tremendous opportunity to play someone on a beautiful day, but it’s more what the day is about,” he said. “My feeling is that no family should lose a child or a loved one to blood cancer.
“We have to make enough money for research to find a cure, and that’s what this day is about. Nick was great example as both a student and an athlete, and I’m just very humbled to be here and experience this, being a survivor.”
For three years, Lehigh has competed at the Colleluori Classic. The Mountain Hawks’ roster is dotted with Philly players that enjoy coming home for an important cause.
“Each one of us knows someone affected by cancer,” said Lehigh junior defender Blaise Fullen (Penn Charter). “It’s a chance to come back home and give back to such a great foundation.”
“It’s a great cause and we’re happy to be here,” added Lehigh senior midfielder/face-off specialist Will Scudder (Haverford School). “There’s a lot of kids from Haverford School here watching and it’s fun to play in front of family and friends.”
Another Penn Charter grad who plays for Lehigh, sophomore goalie Dan Carr feels the players need to appreciate their good fortune of playing college lacrosse in light of what Nick Colleluori endured.
“It’s awesome an opportunity for everyone in their own way to come together and support this event and what it stands for,” he said. “I feel very lucky.
“I have had the opportunity to go to an awesome school and and play lacrosse every day. This is the time to take lacrosse and step back and realize that it can change in a minute.”
Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese said the event is important for his program – but nothing is bigger than the cause.
“We have a ton of kids from Main Line Phily and all over Pennsylvania and they get a chance to play on front of their friends and family member,” he said. “For recruiting this is huge.
“I am sure a lot of our top recruits are here watching and we’re excited about the venue, but most importantly, the cause.”
Towson sophomore attackman Matt Hughes (Central Bucks East) also enjoyed the event.
“We get to hang out and be a part of all this and get to see what all the teams are about,” he said. “It’s a really good time. It (the HEADstrong message) is pretty much widespread now. It shows you can’t take things for granted.”