By James Boyle
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/7/13
Accountability is the word for Neumann second-year head coach Cory Malampy and his Knights.
He preaches it, they implement it and wear it on the backs of their shirts. And they did it Sunday at the seventh annual Nick Colleluori Classic presented by the HEADstrong Foundation at Ridley High School.
The Classic, which helps raise money to help those affected by blood cancer in memory of Nick Colleluori marks the start of the Fall Ball season for many teams. Thirteen Division II and III teams competed in Sunday’s second day for a tourney that honors the Ridley graduate who lost his life seven years ago to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“I thought the guys played well,” said Malampy, a Ridley and Widener alum. “We’ve only had five practices in the fall, so we’re a little behind the eight ball in that regard. But the guys are getting the concepts down, moving well and playing hard.”
The head coach wants his team to be accountable for what they do on, and also off, the field. That’s how he hopes Neumann can improve on its 2-11 record last season.
But more important than the unofficial games that help veterans knock some rust off and help freshmen gain experience at college level, is the cause and legacy that the tournament represents.
Malampy was a freshman lacrosse player at Ridley, playing on the same team as Nick Colleluori – a senior at the time.
“It was really a great experience playing with him,” Malampy said. “Because he wasn’t the most talented kid. He wasn’t the biggest, fastest, strongest kid. But he had the heart like nobody I’ve seen and he would try any way to get the job done and was the best teammate you could ask for.”
His players agree with the importance of spreading Nick Colleluori’s legacy.
“It’s great to come back,” senior attackman Kevin Fonio, an Upper Darby grad. “I’m a local guy so I know everything about HEADstrong. I’m extremely excited. I enjoy my time here. This is my last time here so I’m definitely going to miss this.”
“Nick Colleluori is a very good inspiration to me,” former Ridley midfielder Ryan O’Kane added. “I received his award when I was in high school senior year. He’s a really big inspiration to me. He was relentless. That’s what I strive to do every game.”
But, perhaps better than any Neumann player or coach, team manager Natalia Ferrara understands why a Foundation like HEADstrong is so important.
“I have [been involved with HEADstrong] before,” said Ferrara, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with leukemia at three years old. “I’ve always been watching my brothers play [lacrosse] so it just grew on me, and then when I heard [Neumann] needed a manager I just wanted to do it.
“[Being at the tournament] makes me upset sometimes, but then I feel good about helping other people who aren’t as fortunate as I am to give back to their families.”
Ferrara, from Delaware, says she has been involved with HEADstrong since its inception when her mother heard about the organization.
Richard Stockton senior midfielder Drew Wright (Strath Haven) said playing at the Nick Colleluori Classic is special.
“Just helping the cause,” he said. “I wear a HEADstrong green hat and everyone’s like ‘why use that?’ For the cause. Just trying to help raise money.”
Stockton – an NCAA Division III program – went 7-9 last season and has not made the ECAC tournament for postseason play since 2010.
“We played Chestnut Hill [today] and they’re supposed to be a pretty solid Division II team,” said Wright, whose team lost 10-6.. “And we’ve got a lot of new guys this year, a lot of new talent.
“We didn’t get the win but when we were sticking to our fundamentals and we didn’t get caught up doing everything individually. We were putting goals in; I definitely have high expectations this year.”