Jake Tursellino is the Student of the Month
On Wednesday, December 13th, the Hauppauge Rotary Club met to celebrate their choice for Student of the Month. Hauppauge High School (HHS) Senior, Jake Tursellino, was tapped to receive the honor.
Jake is no stranger to accolades as he was a member of the 2017 Suffolk County Champion Boys Varsity Soccer Team. He was the Co-Captain of the Varsity Soccer Team and was the Co-Captain of the Middle School Soccer Team. Jake has also played Basketball and Baseball for HHS.
For the past three years, he has worked for the Hauppauge Soccer League as a Field Liner. He lines fields weekly in the Fall and Spring Soccer seasons.
Mr. Tursellino spends a lot of his time on altruistic pursuits. He is a member of the Natural Helpers club and volunteers for “TOPS” Soccer. “TOPS” is a program designed to provide a safe, secure environment for students with developmental disabilities. “TOPS” stands for The Outreach Program for Soccer, a special program run by the Long Island Junior Soccer League and its clubs that provide a safe and fun environment for children with disabilities, from severe auditory or visual impairment, and orthopedic handicaps, to behavior deviations and children with Down Syndrome. The goal is to provide soccer skill development and free play for kids who are unable to compete in a mainstream soccer program.
Started in 1978, the “TOPS” program has grown over the years. There are currently twenty five member clubs on Long Island that provide “TOPS” program services to over 750 players, who range in age from 4 to 35 years old.
In college, Jake looks to study Criminal Justice with an eye on a career in Law Enforcement. He also hopes to learn more about Physical Training.
Jake wrote an essay that moved the Rotarians to tears. In that essay, Mr. Tursellino wrote, “Being the oldest of four children comes with a certain amount of responsibility, whether you want it or not. Being the oldest of four children when one of your parents dies raises that responsibility to a whole new level. I was 13 years old when my father died from 9/11 related metastatic lung cancer; he was only 45 years old. He died during my first week of school, when I was in 8th grade – it was the day after I found out I was co-captain of my school soccer team. My siblings, two sisters and a brother, were under 10 years old. My brother celebrated his 3rd birthday a month before our Dad died, we sang Happy Birthday to him at a rehabilitation center that my Dad was in while he was recovering from brain surgery – a memory I’m sure my brother doesn’t remember. We were all so young, it should have been an exciting week for us, we all started a new grade at school, but instead we were confused about visiting a hospital. Social workers explained that our Dad wasn’t coming home. No matter how kind or gentle people are with you, it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that death is looming. We had never lost anyone in our lives. All of my grandparents are still alive. We had never even gone to a funeral, let alone be the center of attention at one.
My father was an NYPD police officer at the time of the terrorist attack on 9/11. He was at home watching me, while my Mom worked. As I’ve been told, my Mom came home from work so that my Dad could go to work and help with rescue efforts. He did that for days, weeks and months on end, never giving it a second thought. In 2010, while my Mom was pregnant it was discovered that my father had lung cancer. He had surgery, and was considered cancer free. In 2012 he became sick again and underwent chemotherapy and radiation. On September 13, 2013 – 12 years and 2 days after the attack, my father died. The cancer had spread through his entire body – lungs, liver, bones and his brain. It robbed him of his life and us of a father. Our community lost a coach and a friend. My grandparents lost their son. My Mom lost her husband of 18 years. I lost the man who taught me how to play baseball, ate ice cream with me every night, my biggest supporter; the man who was supposed to guide me through life was gone.
It’s been four years since he passed. I think about him every day. I think about everything that he has missed out on in our lives. I try to make him proud with everything that I do. I know he would love to see the progress of my sisters and brother. I think he would be proud of me too. My Mom did not want me to become the ‘man’ of the house, she wanted me to be a kid and grow up at my own pace. She has done everything to make our lives as normal as possible. We have all become closer. We have to help each other to make our family work. I do everything I can to be a good role model in my family and help out. Everyday I check in with Mom to see what I can do for her, whether it’s going to watch one of my sibling’s games, driving them to after school activities, helping with homework, or just watching them during the evening, I do it. I have stood with my sister as she made her Communion and I will do the same for my brother in the spring. I will go to their elementary & middle school graduations in June. I am not a substitute for our Dad, but it’s important to me that they feel support during the important moments in their lives. I’m going to become a police officer after I graduate college; I know it will make my Dad proud.”