Steamboat football to recognize former player on senior day |

Steamboat football to recognize former player on senior day

Nick Pagliaro

— Steamboat Springs High School senior Joe DeLine remembers Nicholas Pagliaro as the kid who made football fun. The two played together in middle school and again as freshmen in high school, Pagliaro’s small 5-foot, 2-inch frame doing nothing to keep him from shying away from the bigger bodied kids on the field.

“He just enjoyed it, even when we had to run or do boring drills. He would always make everyone laugh,” DeLine said. “He would have totally been out there with us enjoying our senior year.”

Pagliaro died in a car crash in December 2012 when their 2005 Jeep Wrangler, driven by his mother, Peggy, drifted off the highway north of Walden, ejecting him from the vehicle. His mother suffered only minor injuries, while Pagliaro was pronounced dead at the scene.

“We knew him to be a great kid, and he treated everybody well,” SSHS football coach Lonn Clementson said. “He was one of those guys who would stand up to bullies and that kind of stuff. He was just a great kid.”

Pagliaro would have been part of the same class of football players celebrating its senior day at 7 p.m. Friday at Gardner Field against Summit. Appropriately, Karen DeLine, Joe’s mother, thought it would be a good idea to include Pagliaro in the senior day festivities.

Prior to the start of Friday’s game, after the current group of seniors is recognized, the game ball will be delivered to the field via helicopter. In that helicopter will be Phil Pagliaro, Nick’s father, his mother, Peggy, and sister, Hanna, a 2014 SSHS graduate.

Karen DeLine originally had the idea for the helicopter ball drop, but then was told by the pilot they could fit a few passengers in, as well. She thought of the Pagliaro family, and it just made sense.

“It did just pop in my head,” Karen DeLine said. “I was trying to think of somebody who would be perfect for it, and I just thought of them, because it’s just been hard. And he would have been a senior with these boys.”

Friday will be the first home game Phil Pagliaro has attended this season, and it will mark the first helicopter ride of his life. He remembers his son much the same as everyone else — a cheerful, friendly young kid who enjoyed being with his teammates and friends, whether they were playing football, baseball or snowboarding on the mountain.

“She had called me up — I want to say it was about two weeks ago — and had thrown the idea at me,” Phil Pagliaro said of Karen DeLine’s idea of putting them inside the helicopter. “It was quite a surprise when she had mentioned that to me … it’s quite overwhelming, I can tell you that much.”

Nick “Tony” Pagliaro is also remembered through the Tony Award, given each season to a seventh- or eighth-grade football player who exemplifies commitment, leadership, on-field play and an adherence to the philosophy of brotherhood. This year’s award went to Tanner Raper, who attends the North Routt Charter School.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

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