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Obituary: Mike Torrellas

Mike Torrellas: The Face Of

Hicksville Community Football

Last week the unthinkable happened to the Hicksville Crusaders Football and Cheerleading program. Mike Torrellas, the organization’s founder and leader passed away suddenly at the age of 53. Family and friends filled the pews of St. Ignatius Church to pay homage to a person who made Hicksville a better place for our kids.

Everything about Mike was unassuming. With his sunglasses and hooded sweatshirt, Mike could have easily been mistaken for a truck driver who took a wrong turn down Andrews Road; but make no mistake, he was the face and lifeblood of the Hicksville Crusaders.  

Anyone who was familiar with Mike knew a discussion with him would always eventually circle back to topic of football. It was the place where Mike was most comfortable. However, Mike didn’t always talk about the X’s and O’s of football but rather on the finer aspects of the game that can help mold a young person’s life. He would reflect on the more important elements of football that can assist in someone’s life such as discipline, accountability, commitment and of course, teamwork.

Torrellas was a star linebacker for Hicksville High School and his personal experiences playing football were so overwhelmingly positive that it compelled him to find a way to allow Hicksville kids to have the same opportunity. “What other sport offers all the dynamics like football does?” Mike would say. Mike’s love of the sport was undeniable just as much as his enduring impact on the kids of Hicksville was. In a way, Torrellas’ infatuation with football became Hicksville’s gain. Most people would have stopped after donating so much of their time towards getting a program off the ground. Not Mike. He always did more, as he selflessly took it upon himself to lobby hard for politicians to construct the field known today as Walker Field. Mike took care of everyone. His motives were always genuine, pure and he never sought accolades or recognition for his constant generosity. However, people who were involved with the Crusader organization knew of his anonymous acts of kindness. They saw a man who reached into his own pocket when new equipment was needed and the money was not in the organization’s budget. They witnessed the countless registration fees that were waived by Mike in order to allow kids from less fortunate families to participate in youth football in Hicksville; or, they saw the way he went out and welcomed kids from neighboring towns that did not offer a youth program to join the “Hicksville Family” of football. “Bring them down, we will suit them up tomorrow” was all he would say.

When Mike embarked on his dream to establish the Crusaders in the summer of 2002, some thought he was crazy. He knew there would be several struggles along the way but his passion for the sport fueled him to move forward. As long as it involved football the obstacles always seemed to be invisible to Mike. Although Hicksville was a town known more for embracing other sports such as soccer or lacrosse, Mike never wavered from his drive to resurrect a program that was dormant in Hicksville for nearly two decades. “If they play it once they will come back.” His prophecy rings true today as the Crusaders now field eight teams in the Nassau County Youth Football League, as well as a cheeerleading team.

While Mike’s death has been a heavy blow to this community his legacy of goodwill will always carry on. Mike Torrellas’ contributions to Hicksville carried much further than just being someone who ran a league; he was in the business of pointing young people in the right direction.

News

The community is rallying together to raise funds for a Hicksville native who has been battling to get a service dog.

Nancy Burpee is a 49-year-old competitive swimmer and single mother with a rare genetic terminal illness called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which causes the deterioration of the connective tissues, tendons, ligaments and vital organs.

Local veterans groups and residents gathered at Hicksville Middle School Veterans Memorial Park recently to honor brave servicemen and woman, past and present. William M. Gouse Jr. Post 3211 hosted Hicksville’s annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11.

The ceremonies began with the pledge and national anthem sung by Hicksville High School student Cassie Pursoo, accompanied by trumpeter Conner Hoelzer. Monsignor Thomas Costa from Our Lady of Church in Hicksville gave the invocation.


Sports

The fall athletic season seemed to move quickly, but all teams had outstanding seasons with all teams reaching the playoffs except for two who had their best season in many years.

In addition to athletic acheivements, all of the varsity programs at Hicksville High School also participated in raising more than $4,000 for several charities this past fall: pediatric cancer, breast cancer awareness and cystic fibrosis.

Football was Mike Torrellas’ heart and soul. He also liked a good Turkey Bowl.  

Unfortunately, the Hicksville Crusaders co-founder wasn’t able to witness the program’s inaugural event, which took place Saturday, Nov. 8.

Torrellas passed away suddenly last December due to a blood clot, but the spirit and drive of the man who wore the number 53 and tragically passed at that age still surrounds the Crusaders football program.


Calendar

Model Railroad Open House

November 28-30

Popcorn Balls

November 30

Craft Fair

November 30



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