By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/7/12
Perhaps no player appreciated competing more in the 6th Annual Nick Colleluori Classic Saturday at Ridley High than Hofstra sophomore attackman Tyler Johnston.
A 2010 All-American and All-Phillylacrosse.com pick from Ridley, Johnston has been a member of the Nick Colleluori Team of Champions and an event volunteer who also played for HEADstrong’s club program.
He began his career at Georgetown, but later transferred to Hofstra, where Nick Colleluori played lacrosse and later founded HEADstrong while fighting Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The Nick Colleluori Classic has helped the HEADstrong Foundation raise over $1 million for blood cancer research and development.
So Johnston’s homecoming Saturday was indeed special.
“It’s a great experience every year, just coming back to see how the HEADstrong Foundation has expanded,” said Johnston, who had two goals and five assists last year in his first season as a member of the Pride. “The Colleluori family gives so much back to the community and cares so much about the players.
“It means so much to me, coming from the Colleluroi family as well as coming back to my high school.”
Johnston scored two goals in the Hofstra’s narrow loss to Lehigh in its first game Saturday. In all, 11 Division I teams competed. Thirteen teams in Division II and III will compete today.
Johnston was making his second trip to Ridley as a member of the Pride. He had transferred to Hofstra before last year’s event; now this season he is hoping to become a key part of the Pride attack.
Johnston also is confident Hofstra can improve on a 6-8 season in 2012, one that had many highs and lows.
“Absolutely, we’re going to be alright this year,” Johnston said. “We had a lot of young guys last year and we did have our ups and downs.
“I love it here; it’s fun. Right now we’re getting our sticks out. You’ll have a lot of mistakes in Fall Ball. But as a team we are coming together. We are a family.
“I can see it at practice. There is a change from last year. Everyone is up; we can build on that. We just want to work as hard as we can and build for the season.”
The Nick Colleluori Classic is a chance for Hofstra to continue its growth as a family for many reasons.
Each year coach Seth Tierney – who has been one of the biggest proponents of the event – takes his team through a special bonding with Nick’s legacy and memory. Last year the squad went to Nick’s House; this year it returned to the cemetery where Nick is buried.
“Everybody gets a rose and takes it to the grace and this year we had (first-year assistant) coach (John) Gorman – who was a teammate of Nick’s – as well as coach (Kevin) Unterstein,” said Tierney.
“We let those guys have the microphone. They did a great job of explaining why Nick was such a great teammate and had such a great impact here.
“Then we played Lehigh, a great team and we decided to hang around for the last game and play Villanova. We just want to play everybody and get film on everyone; that’s more important than just winning.”
Last week the team also participated in the Tunnel to Tunnel 3.2 miler before helping out at the Nick Colleluori Women’s Classic at Hofstra.
“It was another community service opportunity,” said Tierney. “It goes through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and ends up at Ground Zero. Some 40,000-50,000 people run in it.
“Then we came back and the girls were playing. We have one more week of Fall Ball and we’ll scrimmage after the staff breaks down the films from today.
“After that we’ll take off a week and do individual work and prepare for the season. We want the kids to work on things they are not so strong at; usually they like to work on things that are already good at.”