The Hofstra lacrosse community will come together on Sunday, April 23 to honor a fallen teammate, a life cut tragically short in a car accident on New Year’s Day two years ago.
The first annual Joe Ferriso Classic, a benefit in honor of the late member of the Hofstra men’s soccer and lacrosse teams, as well as the Hofstra club lacrosse team, will aim to raise money for a scholarship that Ferriso’s family founded in his memory.
The Ferriso Classic will potentially be the last home game that the club lacrosse team’s current senior class will play at James M. Shuart Stadium, depending on where the team is seeded in the upcoming club lacrosse playoffs.
As this current bunch of seniors is the last group to have gotten the chance to share the field with Ferriso, this event holds a special place in their hearts.
In addition to the festivities on the field, Sunday’s event will also feature a Chinese auction for attending fans and a post-game barbeque sponsored by the NYPD in Ferriso’s honor.
The seniors, as well as the rest of the Hofstra lacrosse family, hope that Sunday’s Classic will be the first of many tributes to a young man who meant just as much to his friends and family off the field as he did to his teammates and coaches on it.
“We wanted to make sure that Joe’s legacy was left intact, and everyone remembered what a great person he was and what he meant to this program,” said Greg Stengel, a senior on the club team and one of Ferriso’s former teammates.
Ferriso was a member of the club lacrosse team in his freshman year as a defender. During his stint with the club team, many of his teammates noted that he was a terrific teammate and often the best player on the field.
“He would do whatever it took to get the team the win — he was an ideal teammate,” Stengel said. “We all knew he was by far the best player on our team, but you couldn’t tell by talking to him.”
His talent wasn’t just contained to the confines of Shuart Stadium, however. Ferriso was also an excellent soccer player coming out of Kellenberg Memorial High School, and as a freshman he tried out for the Division I program at Hofstra. Although unsuccessful in his attempt to walk on to the team, he trained with the Hofstra soccer squad throughout his freshman year.
It was that drive, that infallible determination, that stuck out in the mind of Ferriso’s teammates.
Ferriso’s perseverance would reward him in the form of a spot on the D-I lacrosse team after just one season with the club team. In a true testament to the kind of character Ferriso was, his teammates were ecstatic for him to get the call.
“I felt extremely proud of him. I was so happy for him,” Stengel said.
But Ferriso was so much more than just your stereotypical athlete. He was an exemplary student, graduating from high school with perfect attendance while also on the honor roll. He was an Eagle Scout and could play the French horn better than just about anybody. In fact, if Ferriso didn’t choose to pursue his athletic dreams at Hofstra, he could have made it just about anywhere with the strength of his musical skills.
But perhaps above all, Ferriso was a loving son and a friend to many, not just his lacrosse teammates, but a friend to anyone who found themselves in need of one.
“Anytime you needed anything from somebody, Joe was the first guy you’d call,” said Martin Beer, another of Ferriso’s teammates.
Tickets are on sale all this week in the Student Center for $5 with all proceeds going towards the Joe Ferriso Scholarship Fund. Additional donations may be made as well. For campus organizations looking to represent themselves at the Classic, a $100 cover charge will grant access, and club members participating may wear their club T-shirts in lieu of a ticket. The organization that brings the most members on Sunday will receive a $100 gift card to The Cheesecake Factory.
While Ferriso’s familiar No. 36 may not be roaming the field at Shuart Stadium, his presence is still quite prevalent in the Hofstra locker room. His family still comes to as many home games as they can, and Ferriso’s teammates note that Ferriso’s family possess many of the same character traits that defined him.
The helmets of every Hofstra lacrosse player are adorned with “JF #36” stickers, and many players got tattoos to commemorate their lost teammate, friend and brother. If you ask the team as it prepares to commemorate Ferriso’s wonderful life on Sunday, Ferriso’s never too far away.
“Even though he left us, I think that Joe brought our senior class even closer together,” Stengel said.
“If we ever feel tired or gassed on the field, we just remember that we’re playing for somebody upstairs.”