Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lacoppola Thankful for Support

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lacoppola Thankful for Support

Article excerpt

DUMONT -- Tommy LaCoppola has every reason in the world not to try, not to care and not to smile.

Yet, the Dumont junior quarterback still does all of those things.

"He is just all heart," said Huskies first-year coach Ted Evans.

It has been a tough season for the Huskies and LaCoppola. The team is 1-8 heading into this morning's annual Thanksgiving battle with Tenafly.

More importantly, LaCoppola lost his mother, Linda, on Oct. 23 after a three-year battle with brain cancer. She was buried Oct. 26. LaCoppola played that night against Ridgefield Park in a 20-7 loss.

"My Dad said, 'You know, you don't have to play if you don't want to,' but I'm the type of kid, if I am focused on something I am all in on that," said LaCoppola, 17. "And I needed to get my mind off of it. I loved leaving my house for football practice in the summer just to get away from it for a while."

"I told him, 'Hey, if you want to play, show up and play,' " said Evans. "He showed up in the locker room and we were just like, 'Let's go.' We played maybe one of our best games of the year against a real good team."

LaCoppola, the middle of three children, remembers the morning the summer before his eighth grade year when his mother had a terrible headache and his dad called an ambulance for her. He had just woken up and was confused.

The confusion turned to horror. Doctors found Linda had a brain tumor. They performed emergency surgery to remove it, but another one returned. Soon it was inoperable.

For a while, Linda was home with her family. LaCoppola helped take care of his mother along with his older brother, Corey, and family friends. It wasn't easy. Linda lost the ability to feed herself and talk. Eventually, she moved to Rosary Hill, a hospice facility in Westchester County, N.Y.

"I found out in the beginning of the summer that his mother had been sick, so it was one of those things we were always kind of dealing with and the family was dealing with," said Evans. "I would check in with him, ask him how he was doing and he'd break down and we would hug and he'd say 'I'm OK, I'm OK, thanks for asking.' "

It had to be a heart-wrenching time for Tommy. …

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