Williamsport, Pa. – With a term as class president, the president of the Lycoming College Inter-Fraternal Council and a near-perfect GPA as a biology major, men’s lacrosse’s Nick Russello ’20 (Guilford, Conn./Guilford) has picked up one the most prestigious honors in collegiate sports, being named as one of 42 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships for the spring season, the organization announced.
Russello, who has plans to attend medical school beginning in 2021, is the fourth student-athlete in the Lycoming College Athletic Department’s history to earn the award, joining men’s soccer player Dr. Justin Walker ’14, football player Sam Dressler ’18 (who is attending Penn State Hershey Medical Center) and wrestler Brandon Conrad ’18 (who is in the midst of earning a doctorate in chemistry from Louisiana State University).
“My path to living a healthy lifestyle has been full of trial and error but my lacrosse career has been influential in achieving what I have at this point in my life,” Russello said. “My coaches have sown the seeds of the importance of proper nutrition and healthy habits. Getting enough sleep and fueling my body properly were skills I had to learn if I wanted to outperform my peers and make the jump from a losing program to a championship contender.”
Russello did indeed help the Warriors jump from being a program that fell one heartbreaking overtime goal away from reaching the conference championship as a freshman to one that made the conference title game as a junior.
In that time, Russello developed from a backup close defender into one of the team’s best defensive midfielders. In the COVID-19-shortened spring of his senior year, Russello had already grabbed 19 groundballs, one shy of his career high set as a sophomore.
“In addition to his athleticism and skill, he was one of the most fierce competitors and finest defensive minds I have ever coached,” Lycoming head men’s lacrosse coach Chris Scanlon said. “He played wing on face-offs, was a threat in transition, and took pride in the ‘little’ plays. His tactical mind allowed him to see the importance in these duties. While it didn’t get his name on the website headlines after a win, he was always a critical part of it. Truthfully, we don’t make it to the MAC Championship game, for the first time in 13 years, without Nick Russello being on our roster.”
For his career, Russello notched 58 career groundballs and caused nine runovers, as he appeared in 53 career games and made 10 starts.
“In my ten years of coaching, at the DI and DIII level, I have never coached a student-athlete that embraced the entire college experience more than Nick,” Scanlon said. “Once more, you would be hard pressed to find a student-athlete that better represents the mission of the NCAA. His appetite for growth athletically, socially, and academically is a poster for what the student-athlete experience can be.”
In the classroom, Russello was an eight-time member of the Dean’s List, graduating Summa Cum Laude and as a Lycoming Scholar. He was a four-time member of the MAC Academic Honor Roll as well as also earning the school’s American Chemical Society Outstanding Chemistry Major Award and an M.B. Rich Endowed Prize.
He is a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma Athletic Honor Society, Tri-Beta Biology Honor Society, Gamma Sigma Alpha Greek Academic Honor Society, Order of Omega Greek Leadership Honor Society, Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society.
“Nick was the first Lycoming student to complete biochemistry research, spending this past fall semester working in the newly established biochemistry laboratory and presenting ‘Cloning and Expression of a Radical SAM Gene’ in the Chemistry Colloquium,” Lycoming’s Faculty Athletic Representative and associate profession Sue Beidler said.
Russello also made an active impact in the community, serving as the president of the Class of 2020 as a junior and the president of the Inter-Fraternal Council as a senior. He was also a member of the Lycoming College Student Senate for four years and worked as a volunteer EMT with the Montoursville Fire Department during his senior year.
“Nick is very passionate about service as well,” Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Involvement Tara Leigh Sands said. “This past spring, he worked with another student and the Director for Civic Engagement to plan a 5K for Homeless and Food Hunger for the City of Williamsport. The planning that went into this was very detailed and connected to service. This was occurring while in season and he balanced all aspects of his involvement well.”
The NCAA awards up to 126 postgraduate scholarships annually. The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically and who are at least in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition.
The one-time non-renewable scholarships of $10,000 are awarded three times a year corresponding to each sport season (fall, winter and spring). Each sports season there are 21 scholarships available for men and 21 scholarships available for women for use in an accredited graduate program.