By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/18/15
Penn sophomore defenseman Connor Keating can appreciate what the HEADstrong Foundation does to help blood cancer patients and their families.
Keating’s own father, Daniel Keating, is a blood cancer survivor. So when Connor was honored with the Nicholas Colleluori Memorial Award for the Quakers during the HEADstrong Foundation’s University City Classic Saturday at Penn Park/Franklin Field he was both honored and grateful.
“My father was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s and I have always been personally involved,” said Keating, who starred at Haverford School and also played club lacrosse for HEADstrong L.C. “I am very thankful for the people here at Penn (where his father was treated) and to be with my teammates for this event.”
The University City Classic is special to the evolution of the HEADstrong Foundation for many reasons. This tourney is held in the shadows of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Abramson Cancer Center where Nick Colleluori was treated for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma before he passed away in 2006.
“I was pretty surprised to be nominated for this award,” Keating said. “Being here at Penn Park, it’s a very personal place for me; I love this field. My father was treated right there at the Abramson Cancer Center. It’s such a nice day and it was awesome getting two wins. It was, all-around, a good day.”
Penn was joined by neighborhood rival Drexel as well as Bucknell and Mt. St. Mary’s for the men’s games while Penn, Stanford, Boston College and Delaware competed in women’s games at nearby Franklin Field.
Keating said his father – who was watching the event – may have been the only one enjoying the day more than he.
“He’s definitely a great role model for me,” said Keating. “He has always persevered. I am just lucky to be here with my teammates competing in this event.
“It was a great event. I got to take a picture with all the old guys from HEADstrong LC with players from Mount St. Mary’s and Drexel. It was special; we all come together for one cause. We all support it and it just makes it so much more of a friendly environment.”
Drexel fifth-year senor goalie Cal Winkelman also has learned to appreciate being involved with events run by the HEADstrong Foundation. Drexel has competed in Fall events for each of his five years and also plays Hofstra in a game to benefit the Foundation during the regular season each spring.
“It’s a great event and my fifth year being a part of it,” said Winkelman, Drexel’s choice for the Nick Colleluori Memorial Award. “It’s great for the lacrosse community because we can giver back way. It’s great to be a part of something bigger than your teams.
“It’s right in your back yard pretty – we pretty much share these fields with Penn so there is a great connection between lacrosse and the hospital in West Philly.”
Stanford’s women made their first appearance in the University City Classic despite having limited time to travel – the Cardinal took a red-eye flight from California late Friday and competed today in Maryland before planning to head back home tonight.
Stanford coach Amy Bokker, a Phoenixvile High grad, played college lacrosse with Penn coach Karin Corbett at William and Mary and decided this was the year to come.
“It’s an awesome event and the whole environment was awesome,” Bokker said. “It’s a great cause and our players understand that visibility with the organization. It’s great to come here and play. It was great competition.
“We go to Maryland (today) and then have to get on a plane to come home at 11 p.m. so we can get back for class on Monday. I try to put my players in adverse situations so it seems easy when the season comes. But we have quite a bit of players from this area and also in Maryland so it was nice to come home and play in front of family and friends.”
Stanford senior defender Adrienne Anderson, the team’s Nick Collelouri Memorial Award winner, was thrilled to make the trip East to compete.
“The whole team really rallied around it,” she said “We loved it! It was a great cause and a great opportunity. It was tough getting here on a red-eye, but we rallied around it and we got pumped.
“Everyone is excited to finally play. It’s incredible all the things they (The HEADstrong Foundation) do and the people they help. They go a long way in representing our sport and to be able to play for a cause that we’re personally involved in means so much.”