New Castle News

New Castle

March 14, 2013

Heart of a Lion: Former walk-on Nick Colella makes his mark at Penn State



In the middle of his sophomore season, Colella began to entertain the thought of transferring to Penn State’s main campus with his career ambition in mind — becoming a physical education teacher. Behrend offered no program or major for kinesiology. The main campus did.

 After two years of being involved in the small atmosphere at Behrend, Colella was ready for more of a challenge.  

“I wanted to be part of something big,” he said. “I wanted to walk out of a class and be around a bunch of people walking around campus.”

“We were all for it,” Linda Colella said. “He knew when he was going to Behrend, with his degree, he was going to have to transfer to the main campus. When he told me he was going to try to walk-on for the basketball team, I told him to go for it.”

With the support of his father, Dave, and his mother, Nick filed his transfer papers.

“I was excited to get accepted. It seemed like I was waiting a long time for it, and I was really happy. I was close with my teammates at Behrend. It was bittersweet, but I was glad to be moving on.

Colella’s decision didn’t go over so well with others, like the Behrend coaching staff.

“When they learned I was transferring, I was asked to leave the team,” Colella said. “They said they wanted players on the team who were committed the whole way. It really hit me hard. I’ve never been asked to leave a team. I really wanted to end on a high note with those guys.”


An easy transition wasn’t in the cards for Colella at State College. An unknown early-on, he made sure he kept his face a familiar one around Penn State’s home court, the Bryce Jordan Center.

“When I first got on to main campus, I played pick-up games and practiced with the women’s team for two months,” Colella said. “I had a good 2 1/2 months until tryouts on Oct. 15 for walk-ons, I wanted to stay in basketball shape.”

Colella took away appreciation and friendship from his time with the women’s squad.

“The one thing about them is they play very physical,” he said.  “Since then, I have good relationships with every one of them on that women’s team.”

Before he knew it, after all the training and the work with the Lady Lions, the big day came — Oct. 15.

“I thought I did pretty well,” Colella said about the tryout. “I wasn’t nervous. I thought I was prepared for anything. I went in and tried to play fundamental basketball the best I could. I walked up there and gave it my all.”

It took five days, but the call Colella had been waiting for finally came.

“I was working out in the weight room when I got a phone call,” he said. “It was from (former) coach (Ed) DeChellis, who wanted to invite me to join the team.

“It was an unbelievable feeling, especially after working out and putting in the hours. My mom and dad were very excited for me. It was a great feeling being a part of a team again. It was nice being part of something again.”

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