|Left to right: Bob McCarthy, George Borrelli, and Tom Buckham at The Tom Borrelli Memorial Awards Dinner.
|Left to right: Top winners at the Memorial Awards Dinner: Larson Sundown (Akron High School). George Borrelli, Karen Borrelli, Grace Gabriel (Lancaster High School).
The second annual Tom Borrelli Memorial Awards dinner was held Monday night (June 22) at DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell, honoring the local lacrosse community that Tom Borelli covered as a sportswriter for the Buffalo News before his untimely death in November of 2008 less than two weeks after he was injured in a fall at All High Stadium while covering a football game.
The Buffalo Memorial Committee, which was started by Tom's colleagues at the Buffalo News in 2009, was organized to honor Borrelli's dedication to high school lacrosse by honoring the top performers each year with special awards that for the first five years were presented at a golf tournament.
The banquet program began last year and this year the committee merged with Community Papers of Western New York and Lacrosse Digest of Western New York to hold one banquet for the lacrosse community.
Top honors this year went to Larson Sundown of Akron High School and Grace Gabriel of Lancaster High School, and they joined Tom Borrelli's father, George Borrelli, and his widow, Karen, on the stage after receiving their trophies (see photo).
Tom Borrelli, known as "Ox" to his coworkers for his multi-tasking style and his dedication to getting all the facts on high school sports into the newspaper every day, was known as a sportswriter who gave 100 percent of himself to the job until that tragic day in November of 2008 when he fell down a steep staircase, suffering injuries that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
George Borrelli, Tom's now 87-year-old father who was the best political writer of his day, first at the Courier-Express and later at the Buffalo News, spoke briefly at Monday night's banquet.
George thanked all who came to honor "some truly outstanding athletes and the legacy of my son, Tom Borrelli," adding "most people remember Tom for his journalistic skills, his love of sports, and his coverage of the Buffalo Bandits and the National Lacrosse League. I, too, remember Tom's dedication to sports. But my most compelling memory of Tom was when he lay on his death bed and insisted that upon his death, his organs be harvested and used to save or improve the lives of others."
George then added "I often wonder how many lives his organs saved or enhanced," a very proud father recalling his son's gift to others even as he lay on his own death bed. A moving tribute from a loving father who along with Tom's widow, Karen, has been battling cancer for the last year. He said they are both doing well and hope to be back next year for the awards banquet. Also on hand to join in the evening were Buffalo News political columnist Bob McCarthy, who took over the political beat when George retired, and veteran news reporter (now retired) Tom Buckham (see photo).
The "Ox" award to seniors who display the talents, versatility, hard work, dedication and toughness displayed by Tom Borrelli as a reporter and editor went to Dom Perna of St. Joe's and Kiersten Maclay of Williamsville East.
The Ed Van Tine Memorial Award was presented to Randy Mearns who played under Van Tine at Canisius College and has been the head coach at Canisius for the last 17 years.
The 2015 All-Western New York Girls Lacrosse Team includes Grace Gabriel (Lancaster), Anna Orlando (Lancaster), Riley Lucarelli (Lancaster), Emma Falter (Niagara Wheatfield) Carolyn Connors (Hamburg), Claire Herrmann (Hamburg), Kathryn Yoder (Amherst), McKenna Rushford (Amherst), Kathryn Yoder (Amherst), Jackie Dufresne (Frontier), Kara Marzo (Williamsville East), Lindsey Hogan (Nichols), Olivia Macdonald (Mount St. Mary's), Grace Ruth (Orchard Park), and Jenna Haring (Lake Shore).
The boy's team is made up of Larson Sundown (Akron), Gates Abrams (Akron), Kevin McParlane (Orchard Park), Jack Seminara (Canisius), Myles Young (St. Joe's), Josh Slowinski (Clarence), Evan Hollfelder (Hamburg), Kevin Goltz (Orchard Park), Peter Masters (St. Joe's), Chaunce Hill (Akron), John Ennis (Nichols), James Stenzel (Niagara-Wheatfield), Tyler Skretny (West Seneca East), and Tristan Dougherty (Bishop Timon - St. Jude).
The committee chairmen, Bob DiCesare and Keith McShea, also thanked the primary corporate sponsors for the special night: The Buffalo Bandits, the Buffalo News, Jaros & Jaros and ADPRO Sports.
Tom Borrelli, a St. Joe's and Buffalo State graduate who covered the Bandits from the start, was the first media member inducted into the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame.