Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/8/13
The inaugural Face-Off To Fight Blood Cancer was held Saturday and Sunday at The Blake School in Minneapolis (MN) as the life of Nicholas Colleluori was honored with a high school tournament and college game.
The event benefited the HEADstrong Foundation, and was run by the HEADstrong Lacrosse Club of Minnesota. Meanwhile, the parent organization, the HEADstrong Foundation™, was holding the 7th Annual Nicholas Colleluori Classic 1,200 miles away at Ridley High.
The HEADstrong Foundation has raised nearly $4 million in the fight against blood cancer. Nicholas “HEAD” Colleluori passed away seven years ago after fighting Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while a lacrosse player at Hofstra University.
In the high school divisions, Team Minnesota (boys) and The Blake School (girls) claimed the titles. Team Minnesota won the 12-team boys’ field by downing Bloomington Jefferson in the finals. The Blake School was one of six girls’ teams that competed in a 7v7 format and claimed wins over White Bear Lake, Prior Lake, and MN Elite.
“I had only heard of the HEADstrong program, and what it’s mission was,” said Blake School senior attackman Grant Oie, a recent commit to Beloit College. “I had seen it on different shorts during my time at summer lacrosse camps and tournaments; it is a recognizable symbol for anyone going to these summer events.
“Prior to playing to the tournament I did not know that there was a central person behind the foundation. After playing in the tournament I prompted to do a little research, discovering Nick’s story and what the foundation was really trying to accomplish.”
Oie said the tourney helped his team began preparation for the 2014 season.
“As (with) any fall tournament, we were being able to get a short preview of what our team is looking like for the coming spring season. To me, fall ball is all about building chemistry and trying new things with the players that you will be next to come the spring season.
“One the major team accomplishments in this particular tournament was getting the younger guys on our team playing with the older, more experienced players. This helps them learn how to play at the pace, but also teaches the experienced players something about the game as well.”
Sportsmanship was at the heart of this event. After each game, teams will select a player from the opposing team who best exemplified the characteristics of HF™ founder Nick Colleluori on the playing field. Selected players were presented with a lime green Warrior Relentless27 chinstrap during a ceremony at the conclusion of the event.
The Face-Off to Fight Blood Cancer was the brain child of HLC Minnesota Program Director Pat Donaghy (former Swarthmore assistant coach) who also serves as the head coach for Cretin-Derham Hall, and Frank Clark, who is the boys’ lacrosse coach of The Blake School. Additionally, Ken and Nadine Washuta were instrumental in helping to bring the event to life. Team Minnesota coach Maria Slusser is a Radnor High grad.