Major obstacle leads to athletic, academic success for URI senior

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Hamden, Conn., native to graduate May 23

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 10, 2010 — Who would have thought a potential life threatening condition could have a positive impact on a student’s life?

In his post-graduate year at Choate Rosemary Hall, Greg Borrelli was recruited to play football at Cornell University, but his dreams were stopped short after he was diagnosed with pericarditis, an inflammation of the covering of the heart.

“I was in the hospital and missed the entire football season but continued to do track,” says Borrelli, who competes in throwing events.

His injury prevented him from becoming a football player, but it didn’t stop schools such as Boston University, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Rhode Island from recruiting him for their track and field teams.

“Ultimately I chose URI because I felt more at home, more comfortable, and the coaches were a big part of me coming here. I didn’t get that vibe from the other schools,” said Borrelli, a resident of Hamden, Conn.

Being a track and field thrower requires Borrelli to spend an enormous amount of time training. Spending between three and four hours at the track and in the gym per day, Borrelli earned All New England honors in 2007 and 2008. He also placed third in the shot put in the Atlantic 10 championships.

“Greg has been a pleasure to work with for the past four years and is one of the few people that his peers will listen to. In that respect, he has been a true leader,” said John Copeland, head coach of URI’s men’s track team. “His academic achievements and his work ethic have set a great example for our younger athletes. He is proof that one can be a student and an athlete. “

Borrelli’s injury and final decision not only led him to an impressive athletic career, but also allowed him to discover his calling through an influential professor, Leo Carroll.

As chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carroll was instrumental in helping Borrelli find his niche. With Carroll’s help, Borrelli landed an internship at the Connecticut state prosecutors office the summer after his sophomore year. Seeing the many facets of the legal profession helped Borrelli realize he wanted a career as a state attorney.

“Professor Carroll enlightened my views and broadened my perspective on things,” said Borrelli. “He was that teacher who opened my eyes. He kept me interested and made me want to learn more.”

While completing a double major in sociology and political science, competing up to 20 hours per week in track, and maintaining a 3.77 grade point average, Borrelli somehow found time to participate in extracurricular activities where he learned an important lesson.

Borrelli has volunteered his time as a violence prevention peer advocate for three years with URI’s Women’s Center and with the St. Jude’s Up Till Dawn fundraiser. He has also been a teacher’s assistant in the sociology department.

“With track, school and extracurriculars, it really taught me to budget my time. I don’t have the luxury of just going to class and doing homework in blocks of free time,” Borrelli said. “That’s been the biggest lesson, and I hope that sticks with me as I move on in a career.”

After graduating May 23, Borrelli will continue on to law school to pursue his goal of becoming a Connecticut state prosecutor.

“If it takes three more years of reading 1,000 pages a week, I’m more than willing to do it,” Borrelli said.

As far as Borrelli’s future in track, it seems as though he’s closing that chapter.

“Eight years of track is enough for me, but maybe I’ll become a distance runner,” he joked. “Track will always be part of my life, but I’m looking forward to having time to myself and being a normal college student.”

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.

This release was written by Alicia Blain, an intern in URI’s Department of Communications and Marketing and a public relations major.