By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/26/14
Penn assistant coach Kerri Whitaker said that competing with three other women’s teams in the 2nd Annual University City Classic on Saturday at Franklin Field was the perfect way to end the Fall Ball season.
“It’s great to have the event here at Penn because it’s so close to the hospital where Nick was treated and where his family really gives their time, their resources and their foundation, right here in the heart of Philadelphia,” said Whitaker. “And we’re right here in the shadows of the hospital; knowing that Nick and his family were looking out on Franklin Field while he was being treated is really special.”
Now in its second year – the University City Classic included women’s teams for the first time. Penn was joined by Delaware, Albany and Towson as each team played three times at Franklin Field while Penn, Drexel and Johns Hopkins played just behind the stadium at James “Ace” Adams Field.
The event is an extension to the Nick Colleluori Classic held two weeks ago at Ridley High, where Nick and Whitaker played.
“It’s really cool; it can become a festival atmosphere, where you have teams playing at Penn Park and teams playing here at Franklin Field,” said Whitaker. “I think that’s the mission of their foundation; to involve as many teams and as many groups as possible and spread the word about the great things they do. As a coach in the lacrosse community, and a team in the lacrosse community, we’re more than happy to be able to help them out with that.
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“I have known the Colleluori boys since they were really little kids,” she said. “We belonged to the same pool – Ridley Township Swim Club – and my mom taught all the Colleluori boys. Ridley is one of those towns like a lot in Delaware County that are tight-knit communities. To have the Colleluoris here today and to do something that will help their foundation gives us a great sense of pride.”
Penn’s Nick Colleluori award winner, junior midfielder Nina Corcoran (Sacred Heart Academy, N.Y.), said the event helped change her perspective on the honor of competing in college lacrosse.
“I think it’s really awesome, and hearing stories from the HEADstrong Foundation puts a perspective on things,” she said. “We come out every day and it makes us want to go harder every day, since we have that opportunity.
“In the beginning of the year, (coach Whitaker) talked to us (about HEADstrong) and we’ve been selling t-shirts on campus to bring awareness. This is our last fall tournament so today we are trying to work on everything to improve from last weekend and end on the fall season on a good note.”
Delaware senior midfielder Caitlin McCartney (Archbishop Wood), a three-time first-team All-Colonial Athletic Conference pick who has 115 career goals, was her team’s Nick Colleluori honoree. She also was honored to see her team compete (winning two of three games).
“It definitely means a lot, especially since I know cancer is near and dear to a lot of people on our team,” she said. “It means a lot to come out here and play for somebody other than ourselves.
“Definitely we still have room to improve. It’s just Fall Ball and we need to keep bringing that into the spring season.”
Towson senior defender Michelle Dufault (Fairport, N.Y.) said she has endured losses in her family from cancer.
“It’s an incredible feeling being able to take part in it,” she said. “Every single person has been affected by cancer and, personally, I have suffered some losses in my family. You want to do everything you can to help out.”
Dufault said a speech made by HEADstrong President Cheryl Colleluori, Nick’s mother, was inspirational.
“That definitely motivated us to play in the moment,” she said. “We are a young team and it was great motivation and a great lesson.”
Albany sophomore attack Sarah Martin (Minnechaug, Mass.) admitted she was surprised to receive the Nick Colleluori award. She was moved by the presentation by Mrs. Colleluori.
“I think it’s an honor just coming here and I didn’t know the presentation would be so motivating and inspiring,” she said. “Getting the award was special to me and I was really surprised to get it; it’s a great honor. I am just going to keep working as hard as I have been.
“I think this is an amazing thing for our team and especially for women’s lacrosse to get awareness for the cause.”