Kearny Bank Presents $2500 Strength Award to Lacrosse Player Heading to Delaware

Kearny Bank recently presented the Kearny Bank Strength Award to 2023 high school graduate Peter Zaninelli, who overcame great odds after suffering a traumatic injury three years ago.

Lacrosse athlete Zaninelli received a $2,500 academic scholarship to attend the University of Delaware, where he’ll study education. He plans to play lacrosse on the club level while at college.

Read more: Kearny Bank Donates $25K to FDU Athletics

The Somerville High School student was injured in June 2020 when he and his friends were riding their bikes. He attempted to execute a jump that went wrong and nearly ended up being completely paralyzed.

After breaking his C3 and C4 vertebrae, in addition to having an obstruction in his right vertebral artery, Zaninelli had a long road ahead of him to make his return to the lacrosse field. After seven long months, Zaninelli had fully recovered and was able to resume his lacrosse career. He played varsity lacrosse for Somerville during his sophomore, junior and senior years.

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“Peter’s an inspiration – it’s that simple,” said Somerville High School Athletic Director Tim Davis.

“He’s been courageous in the face of a huge challenge, he’s a terrific teammate, and he always works extra hard. And what’s really crazy is that, despite sustaining just about the worst injury imaginable, he never missed a single lacrosse season during high school – he played all four years,” Davis added.

Starting in 2019, the Kearny Bank Strength Award is presented to one New Jersey student-athlete that overcame a significant injury. The recipient of this award is given a $2,500 academic scholarship presented by Kearny Bank, in conjunction with the NJSIAA.

“There’s a silver lining to everything that happened, which is that I grew mentally throughout all the time I was in high school,” Zaninelli said. “And I’ve come to understand it’s totally okay not to be okay — there’s no shame in that. I mean, there are going to be challenges in your life — the key is making up your mind to face them and then beat them.”

Kearny Bank was established in 1884 and is headquartered in Fairfield, N.J. The bank’s footprint covers most of New Jersey, along with Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Daniel Neshan is currently a senior, majoring in Digital Media at Bergen County Technical High School in Teterboro, NJ. He is a student writer for Meadowlands Media, who plans to pursue his passion for journalism and broadcast media in college.