Team Relentless, Southern California
HEADstrong Foundation President. We walked away from the interview feeling even more moved, motivated, and inspired than we already were. Cheryl is an incredibly strong woman,
who made a promise to her son Nick, and is keeping it every day through the HEADstrong
mission. Please see below for the interview:
Q: Is the response you are receiving to the HEADstrong Foundation what you expected?
A: No. (Laughs) It is so far beyond my expectations. I have a sneaking suspicion that Nick
knew all along how much this would grow. He felt it (the lacrosse community) was his
brotherhood, and they would embrace it and I said “yea, yea… we’ll see.” I just know he is
chuckling now, because he was certain… he was always so certain, it would work. I learned
over my life being his mom, that very rarely was he wrong. He has become this legend, and it’s
only been 2 years! That to me is the highest honor as a parent, to know that your son matters
that much and he’s making a difference and people are looking up to him and using his mantra
to guide their children. It is way beyond what I thought it’d be.
Q: Is there one or a few specific attributes that have contributed most to HEADstrong’s
A: Two things: 1) Nick. Who he was, you can’t help but to be interested. He is the driving
force. He provides me with the direction. He set this in motion. Every step ? what he wanted,
what his thoughts were…. there was an ad in Inside Lacrosse, and he has two poles in either of
his hands (chemo in one, and lacrosse in the other). That was his idea, and he was only 19
years old! How did he think of this stuff??!! He is the number one reason because he has set
the tone and you are just attracted to that, and people just want to be involved. And 2) The
lacrosse community itself really embracing us. I don’t think that they had been involved in a
charitable event that they could really get involved with before. Because Nick didn’t hide from
it (the disease) and wasn’t ashamed, and wasn’t negative ? that set the tone for everything and
everything else just fell into place.
Q: Is there anything more than what we are already doing that Team Relentless can do to
A: You are already doing it, because people will be asking about the colors you are wearing,
and you will tell them the story. I call it the 7 degrees of Nick Colleluori! Someone tells the
story, and it just goes on and on and on! If someone asks why the focus is what it is, I would
certainly hope you refer them to the website (www.headstrongfoundation.org). Who knows,
maybe they’d be interested in sporting a pair of the shoelaces and help support the cause. Nick
taught us so many lessons (he was a counselor for years, and ultimately wanted to be a
teacher) that aren’t typically taught in the classroom. My pain is so strong, but if someone can
learn from this, than we are better off. Also, I’m not sure what your plans are in terms of
tournaments, but maybe hosting a West Coast Headstrong Tournament in the future is a
Q: Is there anything you would like to say, advise, etc. to our team?
A: Scouts are out there right now, and they look at the entire package ? school, grades,
sportsmanship, community dedication and involvement, as well as stats in your lacrosse games.
Michael was scouted as young as the 8th grade! It is not good enough to be a good athlete,
you have to give back to the community and be selfless. The kids who play for the HEADstrong
team have received recognition and scholarships as a result, but it is because they are
representing Nick. Everything they do, they do with that intensity. They have to always think
about others and the selflessness, and what they are giving back. You can’t look back and say
“shoulda, coulda, woulda,” you just need to learn, and keep going… put one foot in front of
the other, and keep moving.
Q: Is there anything that you don’t get asked about in interviews that you wish you would get
asked, or that you want us to know?
A: I think we are pretty much an open book. Sometimes we’re asked so many different
questions like why are you doing this or that, or how do you find the strength… I think until
someone is in the shoes, and walks the walk, there aren’t enough words to explain the feelings
you go through. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves, we feel lucky that we were chosen by Nick
to be his caregivers and his family. As hard as it is without him, if we knew we were going to
lose him, would we not want to have been blessed with what he gave us? Some of the things I
want to understand is WHY? I want answers… And that is what I am going to continue to try
and search for. If we can prevent just one other family from going through this, then we’ve