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Fallen High School Football Player Remembered As ‘Happy Kid’ Who ‘Always Wore A Smile’

St. Joseph By The Sea High Dealing With Death Of 15-Year-Old Nick Dellaventura
Nick Dellaventura

Nick Dellaventura (Photo: Handout)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Staten Island community is mourning the death of a high school football player. Nicholas Dellaventura collapsed after a supervised practice on Monday.

CBS 2’s Dave Carlin found out Wednesday how his classmates are coping with the loss.

Leaders of St. Joseph by the Sea High School were rallying to being the healing process after the death of 15-year-old Dellaventura. The process began with a memorial mass Wednesday morning.

“Each of the kids is affected by this,” said school principal Father Michael Reilly.

Father Reilly showed Carlin the auditorium, where earlier several hundred classmates of Dellaventura gathered for prayer and support, reeling over this sudden loss.

He collapsed at the end of football practice, having just completed a 90-minute voluntary training session, with no equipment, in mid-80-degree temperatures Monday.

“[He was a] smart kid, funny, good kid,” classmate John Gioela said.

At the family’s Huguenot Avenue home, the boy’s mother was surrounded by loved ones. Some of her son’s teammates, who brought a signed football to the family, told Carlin how they felt helpless watching Dellaventura struggle to breathe.

“We just saw his face was all blotchy like he said, it would turn purple,” one teammate said.

Doctors told the family his body temperature skyrocketed and he went into cardiac arrest.

The preliminary autopsy results are inconclusive. School officials and investigators will await a final report, due in about 10 days, to see if further action is warranted.

The 5-foot-8, 210-pound Dellaventura was a powerhouse lineman, one of the Vikings’ shining stars — on the field and off.

“He was promoted to the JV team when he was just a freshman,” Father Reilly said. “He was a happy kid and, like I said, people liked him. They knew who he was and he just always wore a smile.”

After the morning mass, some classmates spent time in the school chapel, meeting with two counselors brought in by the archdiocese.

The upcoming football season is dedicated to Dellaventura, and other campus tributes, including the planting of a memorial tree, are in the planning stages.

A funeral mass for Dellaventura is set for Saturday morning at Our Lady Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church.

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