Close friends and roommates of Nick Lucaj, a Quinnipiac junior who died on Dec. 1, are holding a volleyball tournament in his honor. All members of the Quinnipiac community are invited to participate Sunday, April 22 at noon.
Lucaj was always eagerly asking friends to join him for a game of volleyball and would play at any given opportunity.
“Nick would always ask to play volleyball, despite not having a ball, and none of us ever would because our athletic skills weren’t the best,” senior Matthew Masiello said. He added that “a volleyball tournament is an event [Nick] would have loved to participate in.”
All proceeds from the tournament will go towards a new bench at the South Central Behavioral Network Crisis Center that will have a plaque reading “In Memory of Nick M. Lucaj”.
Those planning the event said they hope for a large turnout and a good time for the participants and the Lucaj family.
Junior Derek Sabety and Masiello want to make sure the tournament draws as many participants as possible.
“We really hope it is a great day and a good opportunity to show Nick’s parents and family the support they have from the Quinnipiac community,” Masiello said.
Although the volleyball tournament is intended to be a day of competitive fun recognizing and remembering the loss of a beloved member of the community, Lucaj’s friends hope the event makes a more significant statement.
“This tournament goes so much further beyond talking about Nick while spiking an inflatable ball,” Sabety said. “It’s to prove that people can get together, make a statement, and give to those who are suffering unknowingly with suicidal thoughts. We will always love and remember Nick, but now it’s too late to help him, so we do the next best thing by helping others who need it.”
Lucaj’s friend, junior Chelsea Byrd, echoed this thought.
“I want to make sure that we do all that we can to remember [Lucaj] and to try our hardest to raise awareness for suicide prevention,” she said. “No one should ever struggle alone, and I want to make that clear.”
Junior Jennifer Scarlett was studying abroad at the time of Lucaj’s death and was unable to attend his wake or funeral, something she said she would “always regret.” For this reason, taking part in planning this event is particularly meaningful to her.
The tournament encourages Quinnipiac students to participate, honor Lucaj’s memory and support those going through similar struggles.
For those who love playing volleyball, or just want to support the cause, teams should be made up of four to six people. Each team member is asked to donate $3 to play. Additional donations from those who wish to contribute but do not wish to play are welcomed as well. All participants in the tournament will receive a discounted meal voucher to a special barbecue dinner in the Rocky Top Student Center cafeteria.
Teams and team names should be emailed to Crescent Residence Hall Director John Goepfrich ([email protected]) and are due by April 20. Teams will be permitted to show up at the event without having signed up, but it is highly preferred they register beforehand, as a bracket will be created before the competition.
“I just want it to be a fun day in Nick’s honor,” Scarlett said. “He was loved so much by all of us and I want us to be able to celebrate his life at the tournament by doing something that he loved to do.”