WATERTOWN, NY — Watertown High School senior Nick Mallette was recently honored as the inaugural recipient of the Northern New York Community Foundation Coach Matthew J. Branski Award.
The Coach Matthew J. Branski Award was established at the Community Foundation shortly after his passing in January 2020 to honor his leadership as a decades-long lacrosse coach and Watertown High School teacher who mentored countless students and athletes on and off the field.
Highly regarded by players, parents, fellow teachers and coaches, Mr. Branski was a true friend who always ensured each player was treated with respect. While he demanded excellence, he inspired such results through the example he set for others.
His passion for the game of lacrosse was matched equally by the same for Watertown High School, and the young men on his teams were genuinely excited to play. Some of his players went on to pursue lacrosse careers in officiating and coaching at both the high school and collegiate levels. In 2002, Mr. Branski reached the pinnacle of his career when he was inducted into the Upstate New York Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Branski Award honorees are veterans of the Watertown High School boys lacrosse program and demonstrate a hard-working attitude, dedication to the sport, determination to lead, and exhibit good sportsmanship. Students with plans to play collegiate lacrosse receive strong consideration for the award.
“Coach Branski made a profound impact on the field and through this permanent fund will continue to positively affect the lives of student athletes,” said Rande Richardson, Community Foundation executive director and 1988 Watertown High School graduate. “Many have contributed to make this tribute a reality. Each has helped perpetuate his love of the sport of lacrosse and remind future generations of the important role he played in Watertown athletics.”
Nick Mallette is a standout three-sport varsity athlete, participating in football for two years and swimming/ diving and lacrosse for four years. As a football player, he was named to the Section 3 Class A First Team as a tight end and served as a team captain. In the pool, Nick earned honors as a Frontier League diving champion, a four-time Frontier League All-Star, a Frontier League Team champion and a Section 3 Team Champion. Nick distinguished himself as a lacrosse player, earning honors as a four-time Frontier League All-Star, two-time Watertown Daily Times All-North player, a Frontier League Champion and was a two-
time team captain.
Nick started playing lacrosse in eighth grade and immediately “knew it was the sport for him,” his mother, Terri, said.
In addition to playing on the Cyclones varsity lacrosse team, Nick has played in the 1812 Shootout and the John Pepper and Cornstalk Classic tournaments. He has also been a member of travel teams including Rhino, Unity, and Upstate Salt Kings, Syracuse.
Outside of athletics, Nick is a gifted musician and has been involved with the Trillium Music Center, playing the violin since he was 5. He also plays the guitar. He is a member of the National Honor Society and an active community volunteer, completing many hours of service on behalf of National Honor Society and the
Nick graduates from Watertown this month with a 95.4 GPA and will attend Le Moyne College, Syracuse, where he will study biology and continue to play lacrosse as a Le Moyne Dolphin. Nick aspires to become a physician’s assistant and plans to apply for entry into the program at Le Moyne. He is the son of Al and
Terri Mallette, Watertown. Brian Navarra, Watertown varsity boys lacrosse coach, and Mr. Branski’s son, Mike, presented Nick with the award, which includes a $500 scholarship.
To join in helping to perpetuate the legacy of Coach Matthew J. Branski, make gifts to: Northern New York Community Foundation, 131 Washington St., Watertown NY 13601.
About the Northern New York Community Foundation
Since 1929, the Northern New York Community Foundation has invested in improving and enriching the quality of life for all in communities across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.