Contact: Pat Colleluori
HEADstrong Mourns the Loss of Legendary Coach Carl Schnellenbach
HOLMES, PA – HEADstrong founder Nicholas “HEAD” Colleluori and Coach Carl “Schnell” Schellenbach had a very special relationship. And while it was a connection that was fostered on the athletic plain their bond solidified during Colleluori’s 14-month battle against cancer. On Sunday, December 17th Ridley High School’s beloved Schnell passed away at Taylor Hospice in Ridley Park, he was 84. Word of Schnell’s passing quickly circulated, igniting a social media storm as former athletes, colleagues, friends and loved ones shared their condolences, memories and love for the iconic coach. News of his passing hit the Colleluori family, who operate the HEADstrong Foundation, very hard.
“Our family got to know him very personally as he coached our boy’s in wrestling and football. He had a very special bond with Nick. I’ll never forget Nick’s senior football banquet, he was asked to give a speech about Schnell, Nick started to cry and so did Schnell. It was one of those moments that you will never forget.” said Cheryl Colleluori, HEADstrong President and Nick’s Mom
Colleluori always possessed a great admiration for Schnell and his ability to motivate his athletes. Schnell’s gritty and hardnosed approach to coaching athletes helped instill confidence and determination required to achieve success. It was the lessons that Schnell instilled in Colleluori that appealed most to college coaches across the country. One of Schnell’s greatest gifts was the ability to recognize potential in a student-athletes and his commitment to athletes with a willingness to push themselves. For 53 seasons Schnell led on the wrestling mat, amassing 746 wins, the most wins in Pennsylvania history and fourth nationally.
And while Schnell had a rough and tough exterior, he had a soft side which many people rarely saw. Nick Colleluori was one of those very special people that got to see the compassionate side of Schnell. “When Nick was battling cancer, who came to hang out with him, Schnell. He would spend our hours with Nick and when we would offer him water or a beverage, and his response was always the same “Leave me alone, I’m with my boy.” – said Cheryl Colleluori
The two would spend hours together while Nick underwent treatment; when Nick was feeling okay, Schnell would tell tales of Ridley athletes and Delco sports folklore and on other days, Schnell sat by his bedside in support. Schnell wanted assure Nick that he wasn’t alone and like his wrestling career that he was in his corner. “At Nick’s funeral, Schnell was a pall bearer, as his casket was placed in the hearse, Schnell began the sing a modified version of the Ridley Fight Song, replacing Ridley with Nicky, “Nicky will shine tonight, Nicky will shine. When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, Nicky will shine.” said Colleluori
This morning, Cheryl Colleluori notification from Schnell’s wife Debbie that Schnell requested donations in his name in lieu of flowers be made to support Nick’s vision, the HEADstrong Foundation. “I was truly honored to learn this from Deb this morning and tears streamed down my face in learning that Schnell felt so strongly about our work. While saddened today, because this is another piece of our Nick that is gone, we are grateful for having Schnell in our lives and truly appreciate the relationship and impact that he had on our boys. On behalf of our family and the HEADstrong Foundation we extend our deepest condolences and sympathies with the Schnellenbach family and hope that they find comfort in the legacy that this very special man had on so many.”
The Schellenbach family has requested that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the HEADstrong Foundation; 232 Green Avenue, Holmes, PA 19043 or at www.HEADstrong.org/donate.
About HEADstrong Foundation
In 2005, Nicholas Colleluori, a lacrosse player at Hofstra University was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Colleluori was a Division I lacrosse player entering his sophomore year at Hofstra University when he was terminally diagnosed with cancer. His public fight from the sidelines captivated the nation and from his hospital bed he created an organization focused on empowering student-athletes to improve lives affected by the disease. His vision was simple yet critical; helping real families when they needed it most, providing support so that families may live with a greater dignity and normalcy. Colleluori fought to improve the inpatient experience, the affordability and accessibility of care and tackled the general concerns facing the patient population. Understanding the ripple effect and impact that a cancer diagnosis had on a family, Colleluori championed efforts to support caregivers and capital projects to improve accommodations. He built an awareness platform driven by lime green shoelaces, the national awareness color for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He empowered his own family and in the last days of his life asked them to pick up the ball where he left off. Nicholas lost his valiant battle on November 28th, 2006 but his legacy of toughness and determination lives on in the HEADstrong Foundation. Since 2007, HEADstrong has raised more than $11.5 million supporting more than 15,000 families across the country.
For more on the HEADstrong Foundation please visit www.HEADstrong.org.