-- By Natalia Chino '23 --
For inspiring and accomplished Wesleyan Alumni Nick Lodato '01, Wesleyan offered him all the amazing opportunities he had been looking for since he was a child.
Lodato was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut under an environment with hard-working parents in the medical field who valued education over anything else. He knew what he wanted to do in his career since he was little because he saw how his parents connected with other people in their professions and Lodato wanted to help others by becoming a doctor. To put his passion into action, Lodato did a lot of volunteer work at Greenwich Hospital during middle school and high school. Wesleyan helped open the door to medical school for him in a multitude of ways. The rigorous academia of the institution we love prepared him for all the obstacles and hardships that medical school presented him. Lodato expresses how Wesleyan helped him become a better doctor because his time here exposed him to the different ways people view and live in our society, making him more empathetic and understanding in his chosen profession. Currently, he is the Chairman of the Anesthesia department at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, Conn.
Growing up, not only did Lodato strive to go into the medical field, but he also wanted to bring his talents to football and play at a collegiate level. He was a heavily recruited athlete and reminisces about how he would get coaching phone calls most nights of the week that would always be about what a university could do for him and why he should attend their institution. Going into his senior year of high school, Lodato had an idea of where he wanted to go until he got a phone call from a coach that he will never forget. His name was Hugh Villacis and he was the offensive line coach at Wesleyan. On the phone, Villacis opened up with " I know you are going to go somewhere else, but I watched you play and wanted to talk to you about it." Lodato and Villacis talked for a while and Lodato says Villacis was the greatest guy, so he was able to easily convince Lodato to come to Wesleyan for an official visit. When Lodato came to Middletown, he did a night stay with another student from his hometown. In just a mere 24 hours, Lodato got to spend time with an incredible amount of different people and ended up going to multiple fun and exciting places all over campus. At that point, Lodato was sold. All his other visits to tons of universities across the country could not compare. Wesleyan was the place for him and he knew it quick. He told Coach Villacis before he left the next day that he would be attending Wesleyan; the rest was history.
When finally attending Wesleyan, Lodato had a wonderful and amazing four years that he is deeply grateful for. He valued his chance to meet, spend time with, and learn about people from all walks of life. He also felt that in the least overbearing and competitive academic environment, it allowed him as a student to grow and expand his interests to learn about things outside of his declared Biology major. He was able to enjoy a well-rounded liberal arts education while still dedicating time to Biology by researching over the summer in the lab of Dr. Burke under an impressive Hughes grant. With Wesleyan being such an inclusive community, the best memories and adventures for Lodato were always with the people he met and the personal stories he had heard. The connections he made while attending Wesleyan were meaningful beyond words and the relationships he built are still present in his life today.
Another huge part of his time here, besides interacting with lively classmates and pursuing his Biology major, was playing football as an offensive left tackle whose job was to protect the quarterback's blind side while using as much strength and relentlessness as he could deliver. In an interview, Lodato describes that he played alongside teammates that never "just went through the motions." Rather, they were always out there on the field because they loved the game, and that made strapping on the helmet more fun than Lodato could imagine. He was lucky to be a four-year starter and get the chance to compete with some talented football players on some extraordinary teams.
Lodato was an astounding football player and had the achievements to prove it. Overall, he was a four-time letter winner in football, four-time Academic All-American, and an All-NESCAC selection. Then, in his senior year, he was a proud captain and won the Luke Yohan award, as well as the Scholar-Athlete award. The game that stuck with him the most out of his entire football career was a home game against Williams in his junior year. For some background, Wesleyan's football team had fiercely beat them during Lodato's freshman year. The following season, Williams trounced them as payback. For Wesleyan's third encounter with Williams, Wesleyan had graduated a lot of outstanding players and we were considered a younger team. At that time, Williams had been ranked nationally in Division III and came to Middletown thinking they would roll all over the Cardinals. Much to the Ephs' surprise, Wesleyan beat them 33-28, which was one of the greatest victories that Lodato had ever enjoyed. This game was extremely memorable to Lodato because many football alums had come to watch, and the joy from all of them was palpable. This extreme feeling of happiness didn't really sink in until years later when Lodato got to watch his team win the Little Three for the first time in many years, as both a fan and alum.
Although Lodato received a great education and an even greater college experience filled with competitive football and making new friends, he says the best thing that happened to him at our beloved school was meeting his wife on the porch of In Town 25.
Whether it was working towards a job in the medical field, bringing his best athletic skills to every football game he ever played or connecting with students who were different than him, Nick Lodato had a vivaciousness to him that helped him navigate the world during his time at Wesleyan and the years after.