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Penn Hills athlete was strong in sports, academics, generosity

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Nathaniel 'Nate' Ferraco

Nate Ferraco’s parents taught him and his siblings that sports could teach them values they couldn’t learn anywhere else, but they had to keep their grades up if they wanted to participate.

Not willing to slack at either end, Mr. Ferraco played three sports at Penn Hills High School and managed to graduate in May as one of the school’s valedictorians with a GPA above 4.0.

“He had such drive and attitude toward being the best he could ever be,” said his sister, Nicole. “He was a little brother who always pushed my buttons and always challenged me to be a better person, to give him an example.”

A freshman at Geneva College, Nathaniel M. “Nate” Ferraco of Penn Hills died in a weekend car crash in Butler County. He was 18.

Mr. Ferraco was the youngest of the third generation of the Ferraco family to be born and raised in Penn Hills, and the third of his generation to be an avid and talented soccer player. His family was profiled in the Tribune-Review in 2013 for the work and travel his parents, Greg and Kolleen, put in to attend games for Mr. Ferraco and his sister, and oldest brother, Michael.

Though he was the youngest, Mr. Ferraco became a mentor to a younger cousin, Austin Lucas, who played soccer with Mr. Ferraco almost since he could walk, Nicole said.

“We all had our inside jokes and our own way of talking; he was the ringleader of all that,” said Michael Ferraco of Arlington, Va.

In addition to soccer, Mr. Ferraco played volleyball and was a kicker for the football team at Penn Hills High School. He was a soccer referee for local leagues and a caddy at the Oakmont Country Club, Michael said.

Nate was recruited to Geneva College in Beaver County to study mechanical engineering and play soccer. Geneva soccer coach Gary Dunda said that while Mr. Ferraco was very competitive and scored two vital goals in his first two games as a freshman, he never lost sight of the fun of playing the game, and he helped his coach and teammates to do the same.

“People were drawn to him because of his energy and his smile,” said Dunda, who’d known the Ferraco family since recruiting Michael Ferraco in 2009. “His teammates, the coaching staff, myself; we truly loved Nate.”

The school posted a memorial page to him Sunday night and will organize a remembrance service later in the week. Three other Geneva students, who survived, were in the car with him when it slid and crashed on an icy road, according to a statement on the college’s website.

In addition to his siblings and parents, Mr. Ferraco is survived by grandparents Angelo Ferraco Jr. and Katherine Droschak.

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in Burket-Truby Funeral Home in Oakmont, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Wednesday in St. Gerard Majella Church in Penn Hills.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for memorial donations to a fund in Nate’s name at S&T Bank, which will be used to establish a scholarship in his memory.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or [email protected].

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