By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/30/12
Maryann Miller has seen the growth of the Nick Colleluori Women’s Classic, from its birth to its progression as a major college Fall Ball tournament
Now a fifth-year senior at Hofstra, the Ridley High graduate helped lead the Pride today as the host team of the 4th Annual Classic, a 12-team event that raises money for the HEADstrong Foundation’s fight against blood cancer.
In its first three years, the event – which precedes next weekend’s 6th annual Nick Colleluori Classic at Ridley High, featuring 24 men’s teams – has raised over $100,000 for the fight against blood cancer in the name of former Pride laxer Nick Colleluori, also a Ridley grad.
Miller, who missed her second year at Hofstra due to injury, is a midfielder who scored 20 goals last year (40 in her career) and earned IWLCA Academic Honor Roll. She said her final year as participant in the Women’s Classic was special for many reasons.
“This is my fourth HEADstrong tournament and I was saying earlier that part of me is not only representing Hofstra, but also my hometown,” said Miller in a phone interview. “He was from my high school and I take so much pride in that.
“I know his family really well. Each year you come and hear Mrs. Colleluori (Cheryl Colleluori gives a special HEADstrong Foundation speech each year at all HEADstrong events) and every single year it means more and more. I know the entire team feels that way.”
Nick Colleluori’s signature term is “Relentless.” It’s the way he played lacrosse and football and the way he approached life as well as the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that ultimately claimed his life seven years ago, but not his destiny nor his message.
“It really means more every time we hear Mrs. Colleluori’s speech about Nick and, knowing this, the term ‘Relentless’ becomes more powerful,” said Miller. “I think that’s what makes it really special.
“Part of me feels like you’re not playing for yourself; you are playing for something so much bigger. It makes you want to have so much fun and do your best and feel relentless.”
This year’s 12-team line-up also included La Salle and Villanova as well as Central Connecticut State University, CW Post, Hofstra University, Iona College, Long Island University, Manhattan College, New York Athletic Club, Stony Brook University and SUNY Cortland. In addition, the Hofstra Women’s Lacrosse Alumni participated as Team HEADstrong.
Hofstra, coming off a 5-12 season, has a new coach in Shannon Smith, a three-time All-American (254 career goals) and NCAA National champion from Northwestern. She also scored over 500 career goals on Long Island, laying for West Babylon High.
“We played really well, I think we went 4-0,” said Miller. “It was definitely a big day for us. First, it was our first Fall Ball tourney under our new coach so it was kind of a debut.
“We were anxious to play some other teams, rather than the same girls every day in practice. The competition was great the weather was beautiful and it was an exciting day for us.
“She (Smith) really wanted us to play with heart and play with a smile on our faces. She wanted us to have fun and enjoy this first opportunity to play with our team. She really focused on the team aspect and enjoying the moment.”
Miller said everyone involved in Hofstra lacrosse and most people beyond the program know the story of Nick Colleluori and his fight to live life to the fullest.
“They all know and I think that’s something we talked about in our first team meeting,” she said. “Coach told us off the bat; and they know the story.
“This is one of our biggest events and our biggest fundraising event. We know what it means to our program. And also with recruits coming in, the story of Nick is told to them. When you play with the Hofstra name across your chest, it means more and more.
“It’s a great feeling and a great thing to be a part of.”