By Rick Woelfel
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/11/11
The 5th annual Nicholas Colleluori Classic was meaningful to all the participants. The Classic, held Saturday and Sunday at Ridley High, benefits the HEADstrong Foundation and its efforts to fight blood cancer.
For Neumann’s Kevin Fonio however, the occasion was particularly significant.
A junior attackman from Upper Darby, Fonio adds a veteran’s perspective to a young team; he’s one of just 11 upperclassman on the Knights’ 34-man roster.
He says an event like the Classic, which saw the Knights square off against Eastern and Widener, is a reality check for an up-and-coming team.
“We’d had been going after each other, just our own team, for three or four weeks,” he said. “We’re all used to each other. We all know each other’s strengths and you know each other’s weaknesses.
“But playing in a tournament likes this makes you understand what your own weaknesses are. Everybody can always be better at the sport and everybody has to work on their weaknesses.”
Fonio notes that young players have to adjust to the tactical elements of a college game.
“You get nervous,” he said. “You’re afraid to make a mistake; that’s the biggest fear, making a mistake. You just have to go with the punches. It’s pretty much a chess match the whole entire game.”
Fonio says it’s up to him as a veteran to make the transition to college lacrosse as painless as possible for his younger teammates. He says it’s important to keep the atmosphere relaxed.
“We’re all coming out here to win,” he said. “We’re all coming out here to have intensity, but you also have to be relaxed. If you come out here and you have questions that haven’t been answered yet, you ask them of the veterans, like myself or the captains.”
Fonio has a unique perspective on the Colleluori Classic. When he was 13 he developed an ear infection; as a result, a mass of mucous built up near his brain.
At one point doctors feared that Fonio, who is now 20, had a brain tumor. The mass turned out to be non-cancerous but the experience gave him a new outlook, which the Classic serves to re-enforce.
“It gives you a reality check on all the things you take for granted,” Fonio says. “It kind of gives you a better sense of what you feel bad for and not to get frustrated.
“Always have a positive attitude like Nick Colleluori had. I think that’s what the event is trying to get out there, to always have a positive attitude.”