a positive influence
Maduka Nwanekezi finds it ironic that he should wind up mentoring a boy, Ousame , who could be considered a handful. “He was a little like me when I was his age, a little crazy,” said Nwanekezi. “I had a temper, wouldn’t do my homework; I got in some trouble.”
Nwanekezi, 21, is a 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end for Bryant University. Ousame is going into fifth grade. Two years ago, representatives of Big Brother, Big Sister of Rhode Island went to Bryant to recruit members of the football team, hoping that some of the players would be interested in becoming a Big Brother.
“I was one of the first to raise my hand,” Nwanekezi said.
They paired him with Ousame. “I want to lead him in the right direction,” said Nwanekezi. “I’m going to follow him the rest of my life.”
The two of them found common ground fairly quickly. “He’s athletic, like I am,” said Nwanekezi, who was an All-Bay State Conference football player and wrestled at Milton High. “We’re both competitive. He was the right fit for me.
“The first time I met him he was very quiet. He didn’t want to open up with me. Once I mentioned athletics, he opened up.”
The demands of classes followed by football practice often drained Nwanekezi, but once he got to Ousame’s school to play kick ball or keep-away, “it was like I was having flashbacks. It was basically like going back to your childhood.”
Nwanekezi found out that Ousame reveled in running with a football. “He loves being chased,” he said. “He’s into sports. But the biggest impact I’ve had is with his homework. It’s definitely gotten better.”
Nwanekezi, who was recently named Rhode Island’s Big Brother of the Year, is a nominee for the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes college football players for their community service.
As a summer intern at pricewaterhousecooper, Nwanekezi, an accounting major at Bryant, helped load and unload thousands of pounds of watermelon and bread that the Greater Boston Food Bank distributed to the poor. “It’s always good to help people out,” said Nwanekezi.
His father, Ignatius , set him straight in life, Nwanekezi said. “I credit him for not letting me quit on anything, especially when it came to education. The credit goes to my father.”
Nwanekezi played in all 11 games as a freshman, racking up 28 tackles and five sacks. He had a personal-high six tackles in a game against Robert Morris University. He missed the entire sophomore season because of a left torn hip flexor. A knee injury last season limited him to five games.
“I’m fully healthy right now,” he said. “We’re going to have a great season.”
Nwanekezi will still find the time to make a child’s life brighter. It’s a two-way street. “I get a sense of enjoyment being a Big Brother,” he said.
Honors for Corradi
Bob Corradi started his distinguished career at Massachusetts Maritime in 1973, as the academy’s first and only baseball coach. He has 547 victories in 41 seasons on the diamond. He also served as a football assistant for 38 seasons, under three head coaches.
But over the last quarter century, he has worked tirelessly to shape the present and future of the athletic department: He is starting his 25th year as director of athletics.
His work has not gone unnoticed.
The Bourne native is the 2013 recipient of Josten’s Male Administrator of the Year award from the Eastern College Athletic Conference and will be saluted at the ECAC Honors Dinner Sept. 29 at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth.
Corradi was notified of the honor by Geoff Lopes , one of his former American Legion players who is an administrator with the ECAC.
That call “made it even more special,” said Corradi, who lauded the commitment of the administration, his coaches, and the young men and women who “truly makes the academy the best maritime college in the world.”
During his tenure, the number of students participating in athletics has nearly tripled, and nearly 45 percent of all student-athletes participating in at least one sport have achieved a 3.0 GPA in the past five years.
“There’s no doubting the impact that Bob has made on the lives of countless young men and women over the years at the academy,” said Rear Admiral Rick Gurnon , president of Mass. Maritime. “He truly embodies the Division 3 philosophy, and his vision and leadership will forever be a part of the academy’s landscape.”
Last November, Corradi received the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Fred Ebbett Lifetime Achievement Award for his many contributions to the league and to its Hall of Fame, and last week he was feted during the American Legion District 10 All-Star Game in Hyannis for his years of coaching and dedication to American Legion baseball, specifically the Clark-Haddad Post 188 team in Sandwich.
Westwood’s Sarah Matthews walked off the Connecticut College campus in May with a degree in biology and multiple school records in track and field (500 meters and 4x400 relay indoors; 600 meters and 4x800 relay indoors). She also was the recipient of the Erica M. Bos ’92 Award, which honors an athlete whose courage, motivation, and relentless determination have inspired others.
She tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus in both knees, but has refused to back away from her love of sports. After her second setback, Matthews returned to compete in track and lacrosse as a sophomore.
Lenny Megliola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.