By Joe Pantorno
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/25/11
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – The weather reports said that Saturday would be another day filled with rain for the third annual Nick Colleluori Women’s Lacrosse Classic at Hofstra University.
The rain held up, and rays of sunlight graced James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead for the entire day.
“Look at this day,” said Cheryl Colleluori, mother of Nick. “We were told today was going to be a total wash out. That was Nick.”
The HEADstrong Foundation, an idea drawn up by former Hofstra men’s lacrosse player Nick Colleluori during his 14-month fight with blood cancer, has reached new heights. In three years the Women’s Lacrosse Classic has raised over $100,000 in the fight against blood cancer. The 5th annual men’s tournament will be held in two weeks at Ridley High (PA), where Nick played in high school.
Along with Hofstra, the 13-team tournament included one Philly team, La Salle, three other Long Island teams, Adelphi, C.W. Post and Long Island University and eight more college and post-college club teams. Even though HEADstrong is centered in Pennsylvania, word of its mission has spread over the years to all parts of the nation, especially Long Island.
“In the past we’ve had a lot of Ridley players so I think it’s real important to keep the tradition going,” said La Salle head coach Candace Taglianetti. “It’s something we wanted to do to help the organization and get a sense of what’s really important in life.”
Hofstra head coach Abby Morgan, a Great Valley alum, was one of the leaders of this project to have a women’s tournament held at Hofstra three years ago.
“It’s always a good day and today is no different,” said Morgan. “It was such an emotional day especially because we had a few new teams here. To have four teams be influenced and hear Nick’s story, you can’t ask for anything more.”
Other teams competing were Team HEADstrong (Hofstra alumni), Central Connecticut State, Connecticut, Iona, Johns Hopkins, Monmouth, Vermont and the New York Athletic Club.
Each team played three games during the day with a small intermission for Cheryl Colleluori to address the teams. As the teams that included college, alumni and semi-professional teams, sat and listened intently, Mrs. Colleluori, the HEADstrong President and top spokesperson, delivered an impassioned speech of her son’s story and the organizations mission, not leaving many dry eyes in the stadium.
“Cheryl had a great speech and I thought she was going to get through it without tears,” said Morgan. “But that never happens.”
“I’ve heard her tell the story multiple times and each time it hits you in a different way,” said Hofstra senior attacker Maryann Miller.
Miller, a graduate of Ridley, has been close to the Colleluori’s story since the beginning.
“They actually live around the corner from me in Ridley,” said Miller. “Back to when I was a senior in high school, HEADstrong was huge and it meant so much to me then and it’s still amazing to see that I come to Hofstra and it’s here too.
“Coming from Ridley, I feel like I have to represent.”
In Mrs. Colleluori and Morgan’s opinion, the day was a great success.
“For the teams to come and say they want to get involved is such a compliment,” said Colleluori. “It’s very welcoming and warming here. It feels like we’re coming home when we come back to Hofstra.”
“It feels really good to be a part of something bigger than Hofstra that started at Hofstra,” said Morgan. “To have all these people join in something that is such an important piece where these teams are going to wherever they’re going and wherever they’re from, talking to their parents and to their school about HEADstrong and hopefully that makes a big difference in this fight against cancer.”
It was Morgan who approached the Colleluori family three years ago to propose the idea of a women’s tournament in Nick’s honor.
“It feels really good to be a part of something bigger than Hofstra that started at Hofstra,” said Morgan. “To have all these people join in something that is such an important piece where these teams are going to wherever they’re going and wherever they’re from is (so important).
“They are talking to their parents and to their school about HEADstrong and hopefully that makes a big difference in this fight against cancer.”