Alums initiate ‘Gridiron Fund’ to upgrade football team
If there’s any pizzeria that knows what it takes to feed the drive of football players, it would be Umberto’s Pizzeria and Restaurant of New Hyde Park, which has made a regular habit of making weekly pizza deliveries to the New York Giants. On Monday, Oct. 8, owner Umberto Corteo and his staff fed nearly 50 of the New Hyde Park Memorial High School’s Gladiator football players while making an official $500 donation to the NHP Football Gridiron Fund.
The fund, recently initiated by Rich, “Big Daddy” Salgado and Tom Dluginski, former New Hyde Park Memorial teammates in the 1980s, will help finance new equipment for the team and renovate the football field.
Head Coach Kevin Dolan said, “With the generosity of people like Mr. Umberto and others from the community, this allows the kids to get the extras that they need.” He said some of the priorities with the fundraising are keeping the athletes in good uniforms and updating the technology, which will help them play the game more efficiently and keep them competitive.
“Just knowing that there’s people out there pulling for you, aside from your parents, the tangibles that the community is behind you and has some expectations always inspires,” said Dolan.
Coaching for more than 13 years, he said the school has had 12 athletes who have gone on to play professionally. The football team has made the playoffs seven out of the past 10 years, but it last appeared in the championships in 1999.
When the announcement was made that funds would be raised to upgrade the team, its equipment and the field, Nick Perrone told the Illustrated, “I was excited; our field hasn’t always been the best.” He said it helps team morale too.
Christian Trasolini, a senior, echoed the excitement. He said, “It brings us together as a team; everything we do, we are always together, doing it as a team.”
Perrone said it also helps when the team looks out into the stands and sees that the community supports them and is turning out to see them play.
This year’s varsity roster includes:
Seniors—No. 2 Christian Trasolini; No. 3 Matt Davang; No. 7 Naveen Madathil; No. 9 Darwin Davis; No. 10 Stephen Keane; No. 12 Nick Perrone; No. 13 Josh Lee; No. 15 Eric Bialczak; No. 21 Fran Terrero; No. 22 Tim Foley; No. 24 Jason Cedoit; No. 26 Steve Keane; No. 30 Alex Giovanelli; No. 32 Bryan Baracaldo; No. 38 Paul Reo; No. 50 John Chambers; No. 53 Phil Balcer; No. 54 Kevin Terrero; No. 58 Shawn Sam; No. 63 Jeevan George; No. 64 Dan Chiafalo; No. 65 Greg Hoerter; No. 66 Henry Poliard; No. 72 Brandon Fernandez; No. 76 Julian Jung; No. 87 Warren Vass.
Juniors—No. 4 Brennan Scanlon; No. 11 Chris Cataldo; No. 16 Matt Dluginski; No. 17 Shawn Zacharria; No. 18 Chris Calado; No. 20 Brandon Ianiro; No. 23 Christian Hong; No. 26 Frankie Suppa; No. 29 Brandon Martinez; No. 40 Jake Young; No. 51 Marc Tangredi; No. 56 Cody Campson; No. 60 Akash Ranu; No. 64 Tom Labruna; No. 68 Robert Morga; No. 71 Nick Franzone; No. 79 Andre Pereira.
The Gladiators’ coaching and athletic staff includes: Head Coach Kevin Dolan, Assistant Coach Jim Napoli, Assistant Coach Joe Rotondaro, Assistant Coach Frank Sonnenberg, JV Coach Mike Milio, JV Assistant Jim Fernhoff, JH Coach Kevin Kowalczyk, JH Assistant Ron Pickett, Athletic Director Paul Klimuszko, School Principal Dr. Richard Faccio, Athletics Secretary Marylou Pickett, and Videographer John Ferrara.
Corteo jokingly told the Illustrated that it was Salgado’s love for the Umberto’s pizza and their friendship that sparked the business relationship with Salgado’s Coastal Advisors, LLC, also based in New Hyde Park, which specializes in insurance needs for athletes, celebrities, entertainers and businesses.
“It’s always nice when you can give back; if you can do something, you just do it,” Corteo said.
An additional generous donation was also received from the vice-president of Fox News Corp. toward the Gridiron Fund. Salgado continues to encourage all of the New Hyde Park alumni to support the cause. Donations can be made payable to: NHP Gridiron Fund,
The Gladiators will face off against North Bellmore’s Wellington C. Mepham High School in their homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. at 500 Leonard Boulevard in New Hyde Park. The homecoming parade begins at 12:30 p.m.