By Chris Goldberg
Philylacrosse.com, Posted 10/16/16
St. Joseph’s senior defenseman Charles Giunta is proud to admit he patterned his game after Nick Colleluori.
“When I was coming up as a kid Nick Colleluori was someone who was just very easy for me to try and emulate,” Giunta said today during the annual HEADstrong University City Classic at Penn.. “He was short and scrappy and a tough kind of player who when I watched him play went as hard as he could.
“He was someone who gave 110 percent all the time no matter what the situation was and I have tried my best ti emulate him. I take pride in myself that I do that was a player.”
Giunta, a Penn Charter graduate, was the Hawks’ choice as the Nicholas Colleluori honoree, which exemplifies the spirit and leadership displayed by the Ridley grad who died almost 10 years ago from Non-Hodgkin’s Leukemia after creating the HEADstrong Foundation.
St. Joseph’s was one of six men’s teams and 10 overall that competed in the Division I division today before a crowd of several thousand. In all, 14 teams competed in the fourth annual event that has evolved into the signature event of the HEADstrong Foundation’s Fall Series.
The men’s games were played at the picturesque Ace Adams fields at Penn Park behind Franklin Field while the women’s games were played inside Franklin Field. The University City Classic is played in the shadows of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where Nick Colleluori fought his battle against cancer.
“Coming down here is an amazing thing and it really makes you think about how lucky we are to have this opportunity and have all our friends and family here supporting us,” said Giunta. “We are supporting a great cause and we came out here to compete to out fullest abilities for him (Nick) and a fantastic cause that helps great people.”
Other Philly Nick Colleluori winners:
Penn’s Lauren D’Amore, senior midfielder, Penn (Canandaigua Academy, NY): “The event is a very good reminder that we are so fortunate to have this opportunity. It just kind of gives everyone another reason to work even harder.”
Penn assistant Kerri Whitaker – a Ridley graduate who has known the Colleluori family since childhood – helped organize the addition of a women’s division two years ago. “She asked the captains if this was something that we want to continue doing and for us it was a no-brainer. This is something that is an integral part of our season and especially our fall ball schedule. We get to host these three great teams (Delaware, Georgetown and USC) and there is this extra layer of importance that makes it that much more special.”
Delaware senior midfielder Coley Ricci (Garnet Valley): “Obviously, being from the area I know all about Nick Colleluori and I think being a part of this great atmosphere and seeing the community really come together to support a great cause means a lot to me and my teammates.
“I just want to represent my team. What i want to do is play with the passion and hard work he showed. He showed us that there is always another level; there’s always something you can do to benefit yourself and your teammates and those around you and I think that’s an amazing attribute from him that I would love to carry in my life and with my teammates.”
Penn’s senior face-off.midfielder Chris Santangelo: “It’s a huge honor to be a part pf this in general and to be recognized is at another level. Nick was a local guy from Philly who was treated at the hospital that looks over our field. Coach (Mike Murphy) puts a lot of emphasis that that we know how important this is and how many people are affected by this disease. It’s very cool; it’s my third year in the event and every year it gets bigger. It’s great to see the amount of people come out and support the event and hopefully see some great lacrosse, too.”
Drexel’s Jake Gennosa, senior defenseman (Cold Spring Harbor, NY): “I have been playing in this event since my freshman year
and every year it kind of gets better and better. There are more people coming and this year’s event means a lot because we adopted an (ill) teammate named Logan and he comes to all the games and practices. He means so much to us and just to see him with a smile and be with us. We appreciate how lucky we are to be able to play this sport we love so much. What I take from Nick Colleluori is that he was such an unselfish player who obviously would put his teammates first and would always look out for his teammates. I think if there is someone down you need to bring them back up.”
Lehigh senior midfielder Ian Strain (Episcopal Academy): “Just to be associated with Nick Colleluori is such an honor. He’s a legend and to be spoken alongside him is an honor. The crowd was great today and it was a great day all around for this competition; it can’t get any better. The team came out hot (against St. Joseph’s) and then the offense had to find itself. Our defense has always been the backbone of the program and the attack will come – that’s what Fall Ball is for.”