The youngest of five brothers, Galasso grew so attached to his mother that she referred to him as her "little hemorrhoid." At sleepovers he called her in the midnight hour to come drive him home. When she coached football, he sidled up next to her on the sidelines. "He was a mama's boy," says Sal, the oldest brother, who will watch little Nicky lead West Islip High for a second New York lacrosse title in three years Saturday.
House rules forbade the baby from being soft. The backroom downstairs measured 16 feet by 40 -- perfect space for growing pains. Over the L-shaped couch, the brothers would jump to catch balls and land in a pile of pillows. Another contest involved following a lead blocker through a gauntlet of brothers on their knees. Home alone, they would clear out furniture and slide mattresses down the stairs or make the descent in buckets. For a short while in 2000, 13 family members and friends crowded under the same roof. "He had no option but to be physical," says
Crucibles came on the street, too. At 10, Galasso was taller than most his age, but chubby by fraternal standards. To drive home the point that he needed to stay in shape, his brothers packed into the powder-blue Camry and tailed him around the block as he jogged off the excess weight. If he slowed, they bumped him. "In hindsight," says Galasso, who is now the tallest family member. "I should have moved to the sidewalk."
He never left the athletics fast track. Since the second grade, he played at least one level above his age group in lacrosse. As a quarterback he could throw two house-lengths; in basketball he was an aggressor in the paint. One day during a water-balloon fight down the street, he took a football and launched it 30 yards in the air, knocking one of his brother's friends of his moped. "That," Sal says, "left an impression."
Lacrosse's mark was more lasting. Galasso's father,
The game slowed for the southpaw as he rose up the ranks. As an eight grader, he starred on junior varsity and gained playoff experience with the varsity by season's end. Head coach Scott Craig has coached him since the third grade and has witnessed his maturing game and widening vision. "If you could put a camera in his eyes and capture what he sees, I bet it would look a lot different than most viewpoints," the father says.
What can't be recorded on film is quantified on the stat sheet. Three times in his career Galasso has netted at least 10 goals -- two of those games ending with him scoring 11. In near equal parts, he has found cutting teammates and executed his own whirling, dervish displays with shots from as low as his knees and as high as the top shelf over the keeper's shoulders.
"The toughest thing for him can be to keep improving despite finding so much success at this level," says
The seeds that Federico and other former college players have sewn on Long Island will come to fruition along Tobacco Road. Part of an impressive crop of recruiting talent, Galasso, who also captains West Islip's basketball team, met Tar Heel hoops star
Attention paid to lacrosse in West Islip can overwhelm a teen as well. During a recent class, a teacher compared the lacrosse program to the
In the 10 consecutive seasons that Galasso boys have suited up as lax Lions, two state titles have come to town. It was the summer of 2004, in the wake of a championship game loss, that their mother passed away after a long month in the hospital. The youngest brother said he didn't really understand what had happened then, but plays for her now. Win or lose Saturday, the campaign ends and the ink will be scrubbed off, but his mother's memory remains indelible, no matter the season.