By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/25/10
Fourteen teams – including Temple and La Salle – participated today in the 2nd annual Nick Colleluori Women’s Classic at Hofstra University.
But perhaps no one player was more excited to compete than Hofstra junior midfielder Maryann Miller.
As a Ridley graduate, Miller has a deep appreciation for the HEADstrong Foundation and Nick Colleluori – the Ridley product who passed away four years ago due to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while a student-athlete at Hofstra.
Last year, at the inaugural event, Miller could only watch because she had just undergone surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee. She missed the entire spring season, but has returned to full strength and today reveled in the festive competition.
“Last year the event took place two days after I had my surgery and I was pretty upset,” Miller said. “This year it was such a great experience. The whole tournament was great. We got to wear the lime green jerseys and shorts.
“Nick Colleluori has influenced me so much, and it’s amazing how big the HEADstrong Foundation has gotten.”
This year the tourney grew from 12 to 14 teams. It is expected that at least $40,000 was raised for the HEADstrong Foundation in its fight to raise money for treatments and blood cancer awareness. In two weeks the 4th annual Nick Colleluori Men’s Classic will be held at Ridley High where 20 teams will compete over two days.
This year’s women’s tourney – which saw each team play three times on three fields – also featured Division I teams Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iona, Vermont and Long Island, Division II teams C.W. Post, Adelphi and Bentley and two club teams, the Squids and New York A.C.
The event was typical of a HEADstrong tourney – players proudly wore lime green laces, sticks and shirts while more than 1,000 fans soaked up the sun
Miller said her team had two wins and also tied UMass. “We got a little tired at one point and then senior Jennalee Trombley stood up and said, ‘Remember what you are playing for,’” said Miller. “After that we turned it on again.”
In the afternoon, Nick Colleluori’s mother, Cheryl, who made the trip with husband Pat and Nick’s younger brother, Michael, also a Hofstra great, gave a heartwarming speech about what Nick’s fight and passion have meant to the lacrosse world.
“We had to keep pushing,” said Miller. “It was a long day, especially toward the end. I know we were tired. But what helped us was the great speech. I’ve seen her make the speech at Ridley and she puts things into perspective.
“All the teams and coaches were truly touched.”
Miller was not the only Ridley grad to play today. She got to play against Temple’s Steph Markunas (junior midfielder). Unfortunately, another Ridley grad, Lauren Fisher, a Temple junior attack, recently tore her ACL and was unable to play.
Another Ridley grad, La Salle goalie Mara Schnellenbach also participated in the tourney. Miller also went one-on-one against a former foe and friend, Temple sophomore Steph Parcell of rival Interboro.
Hofstra coach Abby Morgan – a Great Valley graduate who has been a huge supporter of the Foundation – said the event provides her and her team a way to honor Nick’s memory, courage and passion.
“It went great,” Morgan said, noting that it was an honor to play Temple and head coach Bonnie Rosen, who coached Morgan at Connecticut in the early 2000s. “The weather was perfect and the best part was when the teams got to sit around and hear Mrs. Colleluori and her family speak.
“Every time you hear them speak, you get chills whether you have heard it a lot or not.”
To help raise money and awareness, each of the 14 teams was required to sell 150 HEADstrong t-shirts.
Hofstra sophomore defender Emily Corzel, a Merion Mercy grad, also was unable to play because she is recovering from surgery to a torn ACL sustained at the end of the 2010 season. But Corzel said she still enjoyed the event and the responsibility of selling HEADstrong t-shirts and promoting the event.
“We sold t-shirts in the student center on Wednesday and tons of people were buying them,” she said. “All the athletes in the Hofstra community are supportive of the Foundation and all the people wanted to know about his story. Everybody is taking to it.”