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Rocco Sivolella tribute: Wayne football fans wear orange at game – NorthJersey.com

WAYNE — The annual football game pitting the township’s rival high schools has always meant everything to players and spectators, and yet this week, it means quite a lot more.
At least 1,700 people bought T-shirts to wear to the game as a tribute to Rocco Sivolella, who was a 15-year-old freshman at Wayne Valley High School when he died of acute myeloid leukemia in May.
Fans would normally sport either blue or maroon.
But that will not be the case on Friday, when the faithful of the Indians and Patriots, alike, put on their new orange shirts – orange, because it is the universal color for leukemia awareness.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Wayne Hills High School football field, at 272 Berdan Ave.
‘Always a part of us’:Wayne community mourns death of 15-year-old Rocco Sivolella
“This is bigger than a rivalry game,” said Kaitlyn Robertson, the head cheerleading coach at Wayne Valley. “We’re here to honor someone who was such a good person and a good spirit.”
Robertson, a 2014 graduate of Wayne Hills who now teaches at Park Ridge High School, designed the shirts and spearheaded the sale, which was an online fundraiser for the Rocco Sivolella Memorial Scholarship.
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The $15 shirts were made by Victory Athletic, a custom apparel company from Wayne.
Rocco’s mother, Paula Corrieri, established the scholarship fund for local high school graduates. She said she continues to be blown away by the community’s support.
“It’s been nonstop,” she said. “One thing’s better than the next. They’re still doing, and they’re still honoring Rocco.”
Wayne Valley football players dedicated their season to Rocco in multiple ways. Some wear orange cleats, gloves and sweatbands, and all have helmet stickers bearing his name.
Corrieri said she and her family were invited to midfield for the coin toss of a recent game that the freshmen team hosted against the Belleville Buccaneers. “It just keeps going,” she said. “There’s always something else up their sleeve, and it’s so heartwarming.”
Rocco’s cousin, Ava Yannuzzi, a senior and co-captain of the cheerleading squad at Wayne Hills, said she and her teammates worked hard to spread the message about the fundraiser.
“It was very important for us to get the word out, so we did as much as we could,” she said.
During the lunch period on Thursday, students at both high schools picked up the shirts that they ordered. Boosters and other parent volunteers had delivered carloads of the merchandise to the buildings.
As the bell rang at 11:13 a.m. at Wayne Valley, a throng of students formed outside of the Kenneth J. Sinofsky Gymnasium on the south side of the building. Cardboard boxes filled with the shirts in white plastic bags were stacked on top of folding tables.
The shirts were decorated with the screen-printed slogan “One Town – One Heart” and 78, which was the jersey number that Rocco wore when he played football.
“We’re doing so much to honor him,” said Aidan Kindler, a sophomore football player for Wayne Valley. “I feel like his name is never going to be forgotten.”
Luis López, also a sophomore football player for the Indians, said it has been “all about keeping his memory alive” since the day that he died.
“Yes, it’s Hills-Valley,” he said, “but it’s about Rocco, too. We’re playing this game for him.”
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Email: devencentis@northjersey.com
The Super Football Conference, which includes the Wayne Hills Patriots and the Wayne Valley Indians, partnered with Ohio-based HomeTown Ticketing Inc. for online ticket sales.
Visit this website for information on how to buy tickets online. The cost is $3 for students and senior citizens, and $5 for adults.
Tickets can still be purchased with cash at the gate.


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