Named awards are nothing new. The Ohio Wesleyan athletics department alone bestows the Robert Strimer Honor Award and the George Gauthier Award, and there are many, many others.
Being the namesake for an athletics award is another thing altogether, and doing so at one of the nation’s premier programs makes such an accomplishment all the more impressive.
Nick Fiorentino, the assistant coach on the Ohio Wesleyan men’s lacrosse team, is such an individual.
Fiorentino is a graduate of Salisbury (Md.) University, a perennial power in men’s lacrosse with eight NCAA Division III national championships in the sport.
During his senior year at Salisbury, Fiorentino was the Sea Gulls’ third-string goalie. But two days before the NCAA semifinal game, Fiorentino got the word that he would be starting in goal. It would be his second start during his entire career at Salisbury, but he “knew then that a lot more was resting on [his] shoulders than normally.”
Salisbury ended up winning the semifinal game in double overtime, sending them on to the NCAA championship game. Fiorentino started again in the title game and made 14 saves as the Sea Gulls won the national championship.
Fiorentino’s accomplishments inspired Salisbury to create the Fiorentino Ever Ready Award, given to a player who overcomes adversity to make the most of their playing opportunity.
When asked why he thought the award was named after him, he replied, “Going from a third-string goalie to the starting goalie for the two biggest games in one’s career is, in essence, facing adversity.”
After the Cinderella end to his playing career, Fiorentino remained on the Sea Gull sidelines, serving as an assistant coach for the men’s lacrosse and field hockey teams while earning his master’s degree. He helped guide the Salisbury field hockey team to the 2009 NCAA Division III national championship.
Now in his first season at Ohio Wesleyan, Fiorentino certainly has the credentials to serve as a positive example for the men on the Battling Bishop squad.
“I feel one of the best ways to lead is by example. I want to be the hardest working assistant coach in the country and I hope that my strong work ethic trickles down to our players,” he says.
Fiorentino makes an effort to work with players off of the field as well by watching film and discussing academic progress, hopefully setting a positive example for the men.
“Nick is someone I want around me. He brings a different attitude, almost a swagger, to the program that he carries from Salisbury. I think the team sees it and feeds off of it,” says head coach Mike Plantholt.