NORTH ATTLEBORO — Three games into last football season, Bishop Feehan High's Nick Gugliotta suffered a broken leg and watched his Shamrock teammates from the sidelines.
All set to captain the Bishop Feehan lacrosse team in the spring as a three-year starter on the attack, he was never able to cradle his racquet at McGrath Stadium for a match due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
No football season, no lacrosse season — the last true athletic competition for Gugliotta before he heads to Knoxville, Tenn., to embark on his academic profile at the University of Tennessee.
That’s not even considering how he missed the final three months of his academic and athletic stay on Holcott Drive, with all of those social interactions in the corridors, in the parking lots and on bus rides erased by the coronavirus.
“I was pretty bummed out about it all,” said Gugliotta, a North Attleboro resident and one-time Rocketeer before transferring to Bishop Feehan of his senior year.
However, there is a silver lining to the dark cloud that is 2020 as Gugliotta was one of 15 area high school football player to be an Attleboro Area Football Hall of Fame Scholarship recipient.
Gugliotta is one of five Shamrock senior scholar-athletes to receive the distinction, along with teammates Nick Norko (Fordham), Jack Silva (UMass-Amherst), Matt Achin (New Hampshire) and Paul Castro (Bryant).
Gugliotta suffered his season-ending football injury at McGrath Stadium in the first half of the third game of the season against North Attleboro High, a wild 38-27 setback.
“I was trying to come back, but I had broken my right fibula and had to have surgery so it was tough,” Gugliotta recalled. “I was going to PT and everything. Now, my senior year, and I missed out on both sports that I play.”
Gugliotta was a three-year starter for the Shamrock football team, serving as a cornerback and wide receiver along with being a three-year starter on the lacrosse field as well.
“Not only was he a good football player, he was a great athlete, a great kid too,” Bishop Feehan coach Bryan Pinabell said. “He was definitely a playmaker on both sides of the ball.”
His elder brother Jake attended North Attleboro High and he would have tangled with his younger brother Sam, a Rocketeer junior, on the lacrosse field this spring. His younger sister Avery, a sophomore at Bishop Feehan, is a member of the Shamrock girls’ hockey team.
“You know to be honest, I like football as much as I like lacrosse,” said Gugliotta, who once played hockey (until eighth grade) and was cajoled every winter by his Shamrock colleagues to come out and skate.
“They’re both so different sports, I love them both — they’re both team sports in their unique ways,” Gugliotta added. “Football shaped me the most, I just loved it, the team aspect. “
Gugliotta has played football “since I could walk,” with the North Attleboro Pop Warner program being one of the kids on a Friday night proudly wearing his jersey to Community Field and engaging in those memories galore “a little rumble-fumble” games in the dark corners of the end zone.
Gugliotta has played lacrosse nearly as long, first with the North Attleboro Titans program, of which current Bishop Feehan coach Tom Sheerin was one of his coaches.
“There was a point where I was playing baseball and lacrosse and I said to myself as much as I like baseball, I wanted to focus on lacrosse,” he said. “Lacrosse is a lot of fun to play, you can run around and hit people, t hat’s the part that I like. I think that because I played hockey, that’s why I liked it. I kind of regret not playing hockey because I loved playing it.
“I stopped when I got to high school because playing three sports would have been difficult. I wanted time to cool down.”
Gugliotta transferred much of the aggressive mindset needed for football to lacrosse and turned it the other way.
“I don’t talk much, I’m very quiet, he said. “I like to let my play speak for me. I like to stay calm and collected and do my job.”
Gugliotta admits that the approach to athletics at Bishop Feehan is not unlike that at North Attleboro, save for the entire town supporting the Big Red in any athletic endeavors, whereas Bishop Feehan has a diverse community of students from any number of towns.
Gugliotta is attempting to remain in “game shape” without any sports or summer camps to pursue by swimming in the backyard pool, weight training and jogging.
Gugliotta will be heading to the University of Tennessee in the fall. His interest was perked in the school during a college fair. He engaged in high level honors courses at Bishop Feehan with his major concentration in college yet to be determined.
“I had no plan, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Gugliotta admitted. “I didn’t know if I wanted to go to a small school around here and try to play football, Division III or something. I just liked everything about Tennessee,” heading there in mid-August for orientation.
“I wasn’t a fan of online schooling -- it was kind of annoying to learn stuff by yourself at home rather than being in class home – I miss my teachers, that is the truth.”
And his teammates.
“Bishop Feehan was definitely great for me to mold my personality,” Gugliotta said. “I was never super religious, but Bishop Feehan provided a religious aspect to my life. I’m glad that I went to Bishop Feehan.”