By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/20/13
What a way to celebrate Nick Colleluori’s 28th birthday.
The inaugural University City Classic, featuring men’s teams from host Penn and neighboring Drexel as well as Hobart and Bellarmine, brought an idyllic setting Saturday to a Fall Ball tournament that honored Nick Colleluori’s fight against blood cancer.
The two fields at Penn Park, still quite new, are situated behind Franklin Field and in perfect view of the Philadelphia Center City skyline. Clearly in sight as well was the University of Pennsylvania Hospital where Colleluori, a Ridley grad then playing lacrosse at Hofstra, fought Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma so bravely for 14 months.
This event was created to supplement the Nick Colleluori Classic, held two weeks ago for the seventh year. This also will be an annual event that is expected to grow next year, especially after this year’s success.
Nick would have been 28 on Saturday. The seventh anniversary of his death is just over a month away, but his legacy continues to grow.
“With the skyline and the hospital (in view), it was just a fantastic day to be a part of this and help host it with the HEADstrong Foundation and the Colelluori family,” said Penn coach Mike Murphy. “Obviously, with the hospital behind us, it’s a fantastic cause and close to our hearts. Overall, it was a fantastic day.”
The second game featured Penn and Drexel; the Quakers looked sharper than the Dragons, but both teams found many positives.
“It was great to be able to play in Philly; it was good for the Philly lacrosse area,” said Drexel senior midfielder Jason Klunder (Conestoga). “Obviously, the HEADstrong Foundation is awesome and we’re big supporters of that, as are all lacrosse players in general.
“Lacrosse-wise, we still have a lot to work on, but it was good after four weeks of Fall Ball to play somebody else,” added Klunder, who pointed out strong play by, among other freshmen, goalie Brendan Manderack (two-time All-Phillylacrosse.com pick from Radnor). “We were a little raw, but a lot of freshmen were able to step up, which I was pleased with. Penn’s a good team and gave us this test and showed us where we need to be in a couple weeks.
“We’ve scrimmaged Penn here a few times and it’s almost like home for us, too. It’s a great setting; we love it here. And a lot of people were here.”
Penn junior face-off specialist Joe McCallion (Haverford School) agreed:
“It was an awesome event and you really get to see how tight the lacrosse community is,” he said. “This is so much more than a lacrosse event.
“We’re supporting cancer patients. It’s really cool that the Colleluoris spent a lot of time at that hospital right around the corner, and it’s really cool to see the whole lacrosse community come around for something more than just lacrosse.”
McCallion’s teammate and fellow Haverford School alum, junior attackman Chris Hupfeldt, said playing for a cause brings even more emotion to the field.
“It means a lot,” he said. “Whenever you can come out and play lacrosse and support a cause like HEADstrong, it’s great. You could not ask for better weather or better facilities to play. Now I hear it’s turning into an annual thing.”
Hupfeldt said his team had not played another college foe. Penn also played Hobart earlier and Drexel faced Bellarmine.
“We played our alumni last weekend, but these were our first scrimmages of the fall,” said Hupfeldt. “We were happy about today, but it doesn’t mean much.
“It’s the fall, so we keep on working and we get ready for the spring.”