Honoring the legacy of Pittsford Mendon’s Todd Pelino

[anvplayer video=”5191991″ station=”998131″]

MENDON, N.Y. — A day after the nation paused to remember those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Pittsford Mendon High School is honoring one of those victims who died in the World Trade Center.

Tuesday night, they honored the legacy of Todd Pelino, a 1985 graduate and standout soccer player at Mendon, by giving his jersey number to a deserving player on this year’s team. But that’s not the only way Todd Pelino’s name is carrying on.

Among Pittsford Mendon High School’s soccer family, 9 is more than just a number. It’s a way of honoring the memory of former Vikings soccer player Todd Pelino, who was killed on 9/11 while working at the World Trade Center.

Pelino wore number 9 at Mendon and was a talented player. But more importantly, he was considered the ideal teammate. So each year, since his death, the Mendon team awards the number 9 to a player who embodies those characteristics.

“I think it’s important to continue the tradition — not only that a legacy of a great man lives on, but also as a reminder of how precious life is, how precious family is.” Mark Hurley, Mendon varsity soccer coach, said.

Before Tuesday night’s game, his teammates awarded the jersey to junior Colden Forney.

“I’m just honored to carry on this legacy and the legacy of the players that played before me and most importantly Todd Pelino,” Forney said.

While the team honors Todd Pelino with this tradition, there’s another person carrying on his legacy.

That’s 19-year-old Todd Pelino. He’s the starting kicker for Duke University’s football team. he’s also the nephew of Pittsford’s Todd Pelino. And he knows all about the tradition at Mendon.

“I think it’s awesome. As someone who’s his namesake, I have the obligation to uphold his legacy. And the fact that I’m getting a little help from that from the high school honoring my uncle and everything he stood for, the kind of person he was — it’s just awesome.” said Duke’s Todd Pelino.

Peilno said the shared name keeps him grounded and in touch with his uncle. And he now has a big stage to share his legacy.

“Any opportunity I have with the platform I have to talk about my uncle, I want to use that platform to talk about him and who he was and how great of a person he was,” he said.

As for the number 9, it holds a place close to Pelino’s heart as well. He wore the uniform number all through high school and had hoped to wear it at Duke.

“I came on a recruiting visit wearing number 9 but it wasn’t available. So I got 29 – second best thing. And my grandpa tells people it’s because I’m the second 9,” he said.

Pelino says his teammates are fully aware of the story of his uncle and says he got a lot of messages Monday from them offering their thoughts and prayers.