By Joe Pantorno
LILacrosseNews.com, Posted 9/25/11
The weather reports said that Saturday would be another day filled with rain for the third annual Nick Colleluori Women’s Lacrosse Classic at Hofstra University.
The rain held up, and rays of sunlight graced James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead for the entire day.
“Look at this day,” said Cheryl Colleluori, mother of Nick. “We were told today was going to be a total wash out. That was Nick.”
The HEADstrong Foundation, an idea drawn up by former Hofstra men’s lacrosse player Nick Colleluori during his 14-month fight with blood cancer, has reached new heights. In three years the Women’s Lacrosse Classic has raised over $100,000 in the fight against blood cancer. The 5th annual men’s tournament will be held in two weeks at Ridley High (PA), where Nick played in high school.
Along with Hofstra, the 13-team tournament included Long Island teams Adelphi, C.W. Post and Long Island University. Even though HEADstrong is centered in Pennsylvania, word of its mission has spread over the years to all parts of the nation, especially Long Island.
“It really means a lot,” said Hofstra senior goalkeeper and Sachem North alum Jackie Pandolf. “Coming in as a freshman four years ago, I didn’t know much until I got here at Hofstra. But now that I’ve been a part of this for four years and now I can pass on everything we do down to the freshman.”
“Not only are you playing lacrosse with your friends, everyone really connects here,” added Adelphi junior attacker and Farmingdale grad Joanie Buczkowski. “It’s great to come here and play the game we love for something that means so much.”
Other teams competing were Team HEADstrong (Hofstra alumni), Central Connecticut State, Connecticut, Iona, Johns Hopkins, La Salle, Monmouth, Vermont and the New York Athletic Club.
Each team played three games during the day with a small intermission for Cheryl Colleluori to address the teams. As the teams that included college, alumni and semi-professional teams, sat and listened intently, Mrs. Colleluori, the HEADstrong President and spokesperson, delivered an impassioned speech of her son’s story and the organizations mission, not leaving many dry eyes in the stadium.
“Cheryl had a great speech and I thought she was going to get through it without tears,” said Hofstra head coach Abby Morgan. “But that never happens.”
“You hear the speech every year and all you want to do is tear up and hug her,” said Buczkowski. “You just feel for her. Her son was a fellow athlete who played at Hofstra and it means a lot.”
In Mrs. Colleluori and Morgan’s opinion, the day was a great success.
“For the teams to come and say they want to get involved is such a compliment,” said Colleluori. “It’s very welcoming and warming here. It feels like we’re coming home when we come back to Hofstra.”
“It’s always a good day and today is no different,” said Morgan. “It was such an emotional day especially because we had a few new teams here. To have four teams be influenced and hear Nick’s story, you can’t ask for anything more.”
It was Morgan who approached the Colleluori family three years ago to propose the idea of a women’s tournament in Nick’s honor.
“It feels really good to be a part of something bigger than Hofstra that started at Hofstra,” said Morgan. “To have all these people join in something that is such an important piece where these teams are going to wherever they’re going and wherever they’re from is (so important).
“They are talking to their parents and to their school about HEADstrong and hopefully that makes a big difference in this fight against cancer.”