HAWLEY — A trio of former Wallenpapack Area athletic stars is making its presence felt at the intercollegiate level as coaches or players.
Rich Palazzi, Chris DiLella and Gina Palazzi have taken it to the next level in football, basketball and field hockey.
Rich Recently graduated from Susquehanna University after an outstanding gridiron career. He's now deep into his first season as quarterbacks coach at Castleton College in Vermont.
"I really like coaching here," Palazzi said. "It's been a great experience so far. It was kind of surprising, but the transition from being a player to being a coach has gone very smoothly."
Chris attended King's College in Wilkes Barre where he played on the varsity grid team all four years.
This fall, he's functioning as wide receivers coach at Gettsyburg College. In the spring, he'll act as strength & conditioning coach for the men's track team.
Gina is coming to the end of a brilliant career in collegiate athletics.
She's already played on the Susquehanna women's basketball team for three years and is midway through her first campaign as a member of the field hockey squad.
"I really missed playing," Palazzi said of her return to field hockey. "I have a really heavy course load, so at first I didn't know if I could handle two sports. Now, though, I've gotten pretty good at balancing sports and my studies. "
By the Numbers
Rich Palazzi: Begins his first season at Castleton as a graduate assistant and the quarterbacks coach after finishing an impressive career at Susquehanna University.
A 3-year starter under center for the Crusaders, Palazzi threw for over 5,500 yards and 47 touchdowns during his career. In 2009 he was named Liberty League First-Team All-Conference while leading Susquehanna to a Conference Championship and its first trip to the NCAA Playoffs since 1991.
As a senior, Palazzi was a Centennial Conference Honor Mention selection after orchestrating the conference's second best passing attack. He also finished his career second in school history in passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns.
Palazzi is currently pursuing a Master's of Arts in Education at Castleton.
Chris DiLella: Enters his first season as an assistant football and track & field coach at Gettysburg College in 2012-13.
DiLella, who will coach the wide receivers and wing backs in football and serve as the strength and conditioning coordinator in track, comes to Gettysburg from Castleton State College in Vermont, where he spent the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons as a graduate assistant.
He served as the outside linebackers coach in 2010 and helped the Spartans to a 5-4 record in just their second season as a program.
Page 2 of 2 - DiLella, who was also Castleton State's video coordinator, coached one player to all-conference recognition as the team tied for second in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference at 5-2.
He also coached a pair of all-conference selections as the defensive line coach in 2011.
DiLella was also the wide receivers and running backs coach at his alma mater, King's College, in 2009. He coached the program's all-time leader in receptions and touchdowns who was also named first-team all-conference and all-region.
In addition, DiLella was the head coach and offensive coordinator for the JV team while also serving as the video coordinator.
As a student-athlete, Paupack grad was a 4-year member of the King's football team. He competed as a quarterback during his freshman season and a wide receiver over his final three years.
As a senior, DiLella earned a spot on the Middle Atlantic Conference All-Academic Team and won his team's Lunch Pail Award for "refusing to punch the clock."
DiLella graduated from King's in 2009 with a degree in history and received a certification in secondary education and a master's in education from Castleton State.
Gina Palazzi: Susquehanna opened the season with back-to-back wins over Dickinson (4-3) and Albright (3-1).
However, the Crusaders have struggled since and are currently mired in a 7-game losing streak.
As The News Eagle went to press, Palazzi had already carved out a spot for herself in the line-up. Gina has seen action in nine games at forward and started eight. She's unleashed nine shots at the enemy cage and registered one goal.
Palazzi is best known around the Susquehanna University campus for her play on the basketball court. A 3-year starter at power forward, Gina was named to the Second Team CSAC All Stars last winter after averaging more than seven points and seven rebounds per game.
She has been named a team captain for the upcoming 2012-'13 campaign.
Head Coach Jim Reed says of the former Lackawanna League star: "Gina is an aggressive offensive rebounder. She has an instinct for finding and getting to the ball, especially off the offensive glass."
Palazzi is pursuing a pre-med curriculum.