UNICO chapters around the country present the Brian Piccolo Memorial Award to a person demonstrating those athletic attributes associated with the Pittsfield native and Chicago Bears player whose career was cut short by cancer. The East Longmeadow chapter includes Albert "Baba" Tranghese's name to the coveted award. The 2007 award was presented to East Longmeadow High School senior Craig DiFranco.
Donald Millet, the Sports Award Chairman said there was a lot of strong competition for the award this year but felt DiFranco, a three sport Captain who led the ELHS Golf, Hockey and Baseball teams into Western Mass Finals was the right choice. For most of the community DiFranco is known for his love of, and success in Hockey, Baseball and Golf. DiFranco was an outstanding student at East Longmeadow High School, as well as an active member of his community. He graduated with a 3.8 GPA, which includes AP courses and honors courses. DiFranco received the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for high achievement on the MCAS tests, the Robert A. Mazzariello/Friends of Golf Scholarship, the Albert "Baba" Tranghese Baseball Scholarship, the ELHS Hockey Scholarship and won the prestigious Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Sportsmanship Award. During his four years in high school, he has also amassed over 260 community service hours, volunteering at school, town and church functions. He helped coach youth sports teams and attended fundraising efforts for high school sports teams.
DiFranco will be attending Springfield College in the fall as only one of 20 candidates accepted into their accredited Athletic Training Program. DiFranco's goal after receiving his Bachelor's degree is to pursue graduate study somewhere in the allied health field.
He does not strive to be a superstar in any sport, or even the best player on any of the teams he plays as he is a humble team player and a gracious team leader, according to those that know him. A past coach once stated: "Craig is the most unassuming star player I have ever had." DiFranco has played Varsity Baseball, Golf and Hockey all four years in high school. He was selected Captain of all three sports, including three years as Captain of the Golf team.
DiFranco was a starter for three years on the Varsity baseball team at East Longmeadow High School. He was voted unanimously by the players as the Captain of this year's team. Last year, the team won their first league championship in over 20 years and recorded their first Western Mass Division 1 tournament victory ever. DiFranco pitched a 5-hit shutout against Ludlow for the win that clinched the division title. This year's team went a step further, not only winning the Suburban league championship but the Western Mass Championship as well. He was nominated to the spring Republican All-Academic Team. Additionally, last year he was selected to play on the West baseball team in the Baystate Games and has played with the Wolverines, a group of Western Mass All-Stars that have successfully competed in national tournaments such as in Omaha NE.
DiFranco was a four-year Varsity player on the Golf Team and was named Captain for three of those years. The team record this year was 19-1 and they came in second in the Western Mass Championship. He has been selected All Scholastic (All Western Mass) for three years, with the past two years being first team. Craig also skated with the varsity hockey team all four years at the high school. A career defenseman, he was converted to playing forward his sophomore year in order to take advantage of his speed and unselfish approach to the team. His Junior year, DiFranco became one of the premier penalty killers in Western Mass. He participated in virtually every penalty kill, over 200 minutes, and was only scored on once while on the ice. The team made it to their first ever Western Mass Final.
DiFranco is the son of Lisa and Mark DiFranco and brother to Kyle DiFranco.