Sports Person of the Week
Criscuolo Manages to Help the T-Birds in Any Way Possible
North Branford senior Charliana Criscuolo has enjoyed every second of serving as a team manager for multiple Thunderbirds’ clubs. (Photo courtesy of Charliana Criscuolo)
Charliana Criscuolo has been involved with the Thunderbirds’ athletic program as the manager for several teams during her time at North Branford High School. Charliana, a senior, first became a manager because she was looking for a fresh start, but soon found out how much she enjoyed making the T-Birds’ seasons as special as can be in that capacity.
“Coming into high school, I needed something new. I was going through a tough time, and I needed to get away,” says Charliana. “When I started managing, I fell in love with everything about it. I never thought the guys needed help, but they needed to be taken care of, and I filled that role.”
Charliana served as the manager for the T-Birds’ football and boys’ lacrosse teams right from the get-go at North Branford. She was the manager of the boys’ ice hockey squad the past two seasons and also served as a manager for boys’ basketball last season. On top of that, Charliana has also spent time as the manager for the football squad at Guilford High School.
Charliana’s mother Michele knew former North Branford assistant football coach Anthony Salvati and asked if he needed any help on the team. From there, Charliana met with current Head Coach Mark Basil and then emailed boys’ lacrosse Head Coach Dave Carpenter, asking him if he needed any assistance. When Salvati became the head coach of Guilford football in 2019, he asked Charliana to lend a hand as the team manager.
“I’ve been told I’m a very nurturing person, and I’ve come to find that out over the past few years. The teams and the guys have filled that spot for me. I love taking care of them. I love seeing them happy,” Charliana says. “I put them before myself a lot. Having a smile on their face makes me happy. I just liked seeing them come together.”
When she first became a manager, Charliana’s primary role was to be a statistician. However, once she started spending time with her teams, Charliana realized that she could offer much more to each program. Now, Charliana does inventory for athletic gear, makes sure all of the equipment fits, handles behind-the-scenes scheduling, packs the bus for away games, and creates elaborate Senior Night decorations to make sure that the graduating athletes feel special.
For the boys’ lacrosse team’s Senior Night this year, Charliana put together a collage of a life-sized lacrosse players, using pictures of the seniors as babies all the way to this year. The collage featured photos of the athletes playing lacrosse from when they were youngsters through their tenure with the Thunderbirds. Charliana always wanted every Senior Night to be memorable and went all out to make sure that every athlete realized how far they had come.
“I’m naturally a very creative person. But being with them, I see how much work they put in, and I’m so proud of what they do. They deserve so much,” says Charliana. “I want them to have that one night and reflect on how far they have come. From kindergarten until now, I just want them to realize how much effort they have put in.”
Charliana’s fondest memory at North Branford came when the boys’ lacrosse team won the Shoreline Conference title in 2019. Charliana says that she will never forget how excited everyone on the squad and at the school was following the Thunderbirds’ big victory.
Coach Carpenter says that Charliana has the respect of everyone in the boys’ lacrosse program and feels that she’s helped the T-Birds grow just as much as people as they have as athletes.
“Charliana has been an incredible help. Her first day her freshman year, she sent me an email asking if we needed any managers. She has shown incredible professionalism from day one,” says Carpenter. “Whether it was stat keeping, planning for Senior Nights, helping out with our pancake breakfasts—she is like a team mom. All the boys have all the respect in the world for her. It is great to see how she interacts and how she helps so much on the team.”
When she first became a team manager, Charliana was unsure of what to expect and felt a little nervous working with North Branford’s athletes. However, the Thunderbirds welcomed Charliana with open arms from the start, and she feels proud about the fact that they’ve all grown up together through sports.
“I got everything and more,” says Charliana, who will pursue a degree in nursing at Southern Connecticut State University. “As a freshman, those seniors gave me so much respect. There was no age gap. They listened to me and helped me out. It’s crazy to see how far we have come. It has been amazing.”
Charliana wanted a new beginning as she was heading into North Branford High School. Charliana found exactly what she was looking for and made huge contributions to all of her teams by putting in a lot of effort behind the scenes.
“Being a part of North Branford athletics is really about making a connection with the people around you,” Charliana says. “We made memories that will last a lifetime. The guys, the teams, and the coaches are all amazing.”