The Purple “PACT” (Players Academic Counseling and Tutoring Program – Part I)

An Introduction of the Formation of an Academic School Based Program for Student Athletes at Westhill High School (CT). It is based on the principals that were developed by:Dr. Al Petitpas of Springfield College and authored by Coach Frank Marcucio.

An Introduction to The Purple “PACT” (Players Academic Counseling and Tutoring Program) and modeled after PLAY IT SMART – THE FOUNDATION OF THE PURPLE PACT PROGRAM.

The Purple PACT is modeled after the PLAY IT SMART school-based program created

by the National Football Foundation (NFF) in and around 1997. The PLAY IT SMART

program was designed “to use the sport experience as a vehicle to enhance the academic, athletic, career, and personal development of high school student athletes

The goal of the program (was) to demonstrate that the right kind of sport experiences can provide student-athletes with opportunities to learn about themselves and to develop skills that will not only enhance their current athletic and academic performance in high school but also to prepare them for productive futures in college, the military and/or the public/private work sector.

PLAY IT SMART was based on a philosophy that evolved from established principles

and recommendations from the fields of Positive Youth Development, Life span Developmental Interventions, and Resilience Based Youth Initiatives. PLAY IT SMART focused on optimization and enhancement of skills, rather than on the remediation of pathological, health compromising, or criminal behaviors. Participants were assisted in identifying their transferable skills and learning how to use these skills in academic preparation, in developing and maintaining productive relationships, and in gaining confidence in their abilities to function effectively in the world of work. Both individual and team goal setting were used to enable participants to see possible futures and to gain the social support that is often required to form healthy habits and achieve life successes.


The Purple “Pact” began as a project that targeted student athletes who are playing football at Westhill High School. It was started in 2013 by Varsity Head Football Coach Frank Marcucio and his staff with the support of Mr. Mike King, then the Director of Athletics at Westhill and Ms. Camille Figluizzi, the Westhill High School Principal.

The program has received its initial funding and seed money from what is now known as the Peter Cernansky Memorial Fund Inc.

The story behind how the seed funding for the Purple “PACT” came about is both very touching and very sad. It is a story of how the parents of a young man have turned his tragic and unexpected death into a legacy that will live on in perpetuity. Peter Cernansky was a vibrant young man who quarterbacked the Westhill Football Team in 2011 and 2012 and who graduated in 2012. Tragically, Peter died on Thursday, August 30, 2012 in Burlington, VT of a head injury he sustained in a tragic long boarding accident. “Pete” as he was known to everyone, had just begun his freshman year as a business major at Champlain College in Vermont where he was awarded a Trustees Scholarship. He was the only child and cherished son of Charles J. Cernansky and Sharon L. Burley.

Even though he was a year ahead of them, Pete was extremely close to the senior class of 2013 at Westhill and he was particularly close to those members of the 2013 Westhill Football team. His death profoundly impacted the Westhill football team and the entire Westhill community and brought them very close together. His funeral was the week before Westhill opened the 2012 football season and most of the captains served as Pallbearers at his funeral(and to underscore the Stamford bond overall, a captain of Trinity Catholic High School that season also was a Pallbearer).

The 2012 Westhill football season was basically dedicated to Peter and each senior who was close to and friends with Pete took turns wearing his #15 jersey to remember their friend in every game that was played. It was quite at tribute that really had never been seen locally in any area high school sports teams.


At the end of the season, Pete’s parents, Chuck and Sharon went to Coach Marcucio and wanted to make a donation to the football program in Peter’s memory. Coach

Marcucio told them while he thought that was a great gesture hewould rather that a memorial golf tournament be established that would benefit the Westhill Football and Athletic Programs in Peter’s memory. Coach Marcucio honestly figured that such an endeavor would raise maybe between $5,000 and $10,000 per year. The Cernansky’s and Coach Marcucio had formed a very special bond as Coach Marcucio had also lost a son as a passenger in a tragic drunk driving accident in 2006 so the Cernansky’s took the idea and formed a committee with Paula and Steve Soule of the Westhill Touchdown Club Inc. running the inaugural Peter Cernansky Memorial Golf Tournament on July 1, 2013.

This tournament had some tremendous sponsors, a silent auction and although they never got to golf that day because there was a tornado in Stamford and 2 ½ inches of rain in the morning that day, they netted close to $35,000 for the Westhill football program. This was both unheard of and totally unexpected and allowed

Coach Marcucio to seek out something special to do with this funding. The tournament was so successful, that the Cernansky’s decided to create a new non-profit corporation in memory of Pete, which is now known as the Peter Cernansky Memorial Fund Inc. Its website is at