Cortese Honored for Leadership and Character
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – Matthew Cortese ’17, a goalie on the Lafayette men’s lacrosse team for the past four seasons, was honored on Friday with the Patriot League Award of Outstanding Leadership and Character for the 2016-17 season.
The Patriot League established this award at the end of the 2011-12 season as a way to recognize and honor those who demonstrate excellence in leadership and service while participating in Patriot League athletics. Provided the minimum conduct standards are met, any Patriot League student-athlete and/or team is eligible for the award.
Cortese took over as the starting goalie during his junior year and played in seven games over his final two years, missing time due to injuries. During the spring of 2016, he was informed that a closer high school friend teammate passed away suddenly. More on that story is available here.
Following a week of grieving, along with the funeral services, Cortese eased back into his routine and asked head coach Jim Rogalski if he could speak with the team.
“It was one of the most amazing things I have been a part of in a locker room,” Rogalski said. “It was honest, educational, and above all else, supportive. Matt has spoken to other teams at Lafayette about his situation. He just wants his teammates and other teams to be successful in everything they do and in the decisions they make in life. He is a true leader and ambassador for Lafayette College and the Patriot League.”
Hailing from Garden City, N.Y., Cortese graduated with a major in Economics and a 3.29 GPA. He was named to the honor roll five of his last seven semesters and was a Patriot League Academic Honor Roll member twice. In addition to his studies and men’s lacrosse responsibilities, he was involved with the Oaks Leadership Academy.
Through this program, he worked with mentally disabled children at St. Anne’s Respite at the St. Anne’s Parish, helping them with development of their communication and physical activity skills. Cortese was also involved with the Peer Mentor program, From Me to We – a program in which issues of social injustice were explored, and the men’s lacrosse team’s efforts to raise money for cancer research at the St. Baldrick’s event on campus each year.
“At Lafayette, we’re extremely lucky to recruit, work with and graduate high-character young men,” Rogalski concluded. “I’m very proud of Matt for everything he’s done throughout his four years here. He is a person of high quality and a great leader on and off the field. I greatly admire that leadership and his desire to live life to the fullest.”
Cortese was joined by Sune Swart, a women’s basketball player at Bucknell, as the two winners of this year’s award. They were chosen from a poll of 12 total candidates, with Jet Manzi of volleyball the other Lafayette nominee.