By Charlie De Biase Jr. Staten Island Advance
There’s a reason why Ariana Trembone appears wise beyond her years.
Simply put, it’s because she is.
The recent St. John Villa graduate heeded the advice of her late father when she was just 11-years-old and it has helped mold her into a fine young lady who already knows how to handle the proverbial curve ball life sometimes throws at us.
It’s one of the reasons why Trembone has been voted the 12th annual Robert Curatolo Scholarship Fund (RCSF) winner.
Trembone, the Bears’ starting shortstop who played catcher as well, becomes the second straight Villa player and only the third female applicant to win the RCSF Award.
She is planning to attend Dominican College in Orangeburg, N.Y., in the fall. The West Brighton resident said she will continue her softball career on the collegiate level.
“I am really honored and touched to have been selected,” said the 18-year-old Trembone. “I know there were so many other (applicants) who could have won this award and to be chosen — it’s a really nice surprise.”
Curatolo, a lifelong Rosebank resident and New York City firefighter assigned to Ladder 16 in Manhattan, was one of the 343 firefighters who perished in the World Trade Center attacks and rescue effort on September 11, 2001. The Curtis HS grad had just ended a 24-hour shift at his midtown firehouse when he raced to the Twin Towers to aid in the rescue effort.
Curatolo played varsity baseball and basketball at Curtis and coached at the high school and grammar school levels for many years.
Robert Curatolo Fund Scholarship winners
2002—Jim Lopovich (Curtis)
2003—Stephanie Longworth (NDA)
2004—Eric Waldhelm (Curtis)
2005—Tom Downing (Curtis)
2006—Chris Mandala (Farrell)
2007—Ralph Tufano (Sea)
2008—Drew Walsh (Curtis)
2009—Michael McDermott (Farrell)
2010—Vincent Cascella (MSIT)
2011—Daniel Karasinski (New Dorp)
2012—Samantha McCauley (Villa)
2013—Ariana Trembone (Villa)
The scholarship is awarded annually to a high school senior who participates in baseball or softball and has a parent or guardian who is an active or retired city police officer, firefighter or NY/NJ Port Authority police officer. Candidates must be students in good academic standing, display strong personal character and plan on attending college.
The $5,000 scholarship is sent to the college admissions or bursar’s office in the name of the student recipient.
Trembone, the oldest of four daughters to NYPD officer Joseph Trembone, had the unfortunate occurrence of seeing her father diagnosed with cancer in his early 30s. After a four-year battle, Joseph Trembone passed away at the age of 36, but not before he taught his oldest daughter a valuable lesson.
It’s one of the many reasons why he was Ariana Trembone’s hero.
“I always think about how someone in that much pain can still make me smile and laugh and was still the same happy, positive man, father, husband and son,” she said in her essay. “Even at the worst point of his disease, he always told my family and I, no matter how terrible he felt, ‘life goes on.”
“It taught me how to be strong and learn to move on.”
RCSF committee members Greg De Biase and Christine Curatolo-Dowd were genuinely touched by Ariana Trembone’s maturity level at such a young age.
“I think in some way, every dad is a hero to his children, but Ariana’s essay expressed numerous reasons why her dad was her hero,” said De Biase, also noting that Ariana Trembone compared her dad to the heroics of Robert Curatolo. “Despite being sick for several years, Ariana’s father taught her valuable lessons that she obviously remembers to this day.”
“To lose a parent at such an early age is devastating,” added Curatolo-Dowd, “But what’s so touching is she has focused on the positive lessons of her father’s life and she’s using them to create a better future for her and her sisters.
“She has such a strong character at such a young age.”