ITHACA, N.Y. -- George Boiardi, a Cornell University senior student, was struck in the chest with a lacrosse ball late in the fourth quarter of a game against Binghamton University last night (March 17) at Cornell's Schoellkopf Field. He collapsed, and medical personnel tried to revive him on the field. He was rushed to Cayuga Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 6:44 p.m.
Boiardi, 22, a history major in the College of Arts and Sciences, was a four-year starter and one of the four captains on the varsity lacrosse team.
In a statement to the Cornell community, President Jeffrey S. Lehman said, "We mourn together, and we collectively extend our sympathies to the Boiardi family and to all those who knew and loved him."
Said Andy Noel, Cornell director of athletics and physical education, "Cornell's athletics community is absolutely devastated by this tragic loss. George was a terrific person, a great team leader, an excellent student, and in fact he was one of the finest students at the university. This loss cannot be measured. Our hearts and prayers go out to George's family, his friends and his teammates."
With 2 minutes and 33 seconds remaining in the game, a Binghamton player took a shot at goal, and Boiardi, a defenseman, got in front of the ball to defend the goal. Play was halted when Boiardi collapsed, and all the players knelt on the field while medical personnel worked on their teammate. Cornell athletics training staff, two physicians and emergency medical personnel from the Ithaca Fire Department, Cornell Police and Bangs Ambulance attended to Boiardi and tried to resuscitate him with CPR and defibrillation.
Play was abandoned, and both teams went back to their locker rooms to await news of Boiardi's condition.
The Office of the Dean of Students has been arranging and leading community support groups on campus for teammates, friends and others affected by Boiardi's death. Other support services for students are available through the university's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Gannett: Cornell University Health Services and Empathy Assistance and Referral Service (EARS) in Willard Straight Hall on campus.
Mario St. George Boiardi was born July 30, 1981. He had a reputation as the fastest player on the men's lacrosse team, and he was named the team's rookie of the year in his freshman collegiate season. He was an 11-time letter winner at the Landon School, Bethesda, Md., a private school near Washington, D.C., where he was an all-league selection as a senior and an all-star pick as a member of the Landon lacrosse team. In addition to earning four letters in lacrosse as a midfielder at Landon, he earned four letters on the school's hockey team and three on the football team. Boiardi was a two-year, all-conference selection in football and the team captain as a senior. The Washington Post named Boiardi to the newspaper's All-Metropolitan football team in 1998 and 1999.
He is survived by his parents, Mario and Deborah Boiardi, and two sisters.
A memorial service on campus is being planned.
In lieu of flowers, the Boiardi family respectfully and gratefully requests that donors consider a gift in support of men's lacrosse at Cornell. The family hopes to raise $500,000, which would be matched by another Cornell family to endow the George Boiardi Assistant Coach of Lacrosse. It is believed to be the first endowed assistant coaching position in the country. The Cornell Development Office said the Boiardi family has made a significant commitment to establish this fund and invites others to join them in honoring George's commitment to and love of the Cornell Lacrosse family. Gifts to the George Boiardi Memorial Fund should be sent to Laurie Robinson, Director of Development, Cornell University, 55 Brown Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.