Tracking Pixel

Jefferson Community College Website

The Rocco P. Canale Education Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship was created by Eleanor Canale to honor her husband, Rocco P. Canale. It provides Jefferson Community College students who are pursuing an associate's degree in physical education the financial opportunity they need to some day coach young adults or, if they choose, to become professional athletes. Mr. Canale's coaches helped nurture his athletic ability, and their words and encouragement -- combined with his determination -- established his competitive spirit.

Born in 1921 in Watertown, New York, Mr. Canale was the son of Nicholas and Josephine Marzano Canale. While attending Watertown High School, he joined the football and wrestling teams, quickly becoming one of the school's finest athletes. He graduated in 1939 and received a football scholarship to attend Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts.

During college, he played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas (1940), in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana (1941) and in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida (1943).

In his last year at Boston College, he was selected for several All-American teams, including the Daily News All-American first team and the United Press and Associated Press second teams. By the time he graduated in 1943, he was highlighted in the Boston media as one of football's rising stars.

He married Eleanor M. Hilden of Boston, Massachusetts, on December 7, 1943. Their two children are Marcia Canale-Bracken and Nicholas R., both living in Watertown.

Mr. Canale joined the Army during World War II, temporarily suspending a professional football career. After training at Greensboro, North Carolina, and Miami Beach, Florida, he was assigned to the First Army Air Force Fighter Command Headquarters, Mitchell Airfield, Long Island, New York. He was promoted to corporal in 1944.

Since Mr. Canale was primarily stationed in New York, he was drafted in 1943 by Philadelphia Eagles Coach Earle (Greasy) Neal to play weekend ball with the Eagles of the National Football League. Practice was held at night during the week and Saturday, with games played on Sunday.

In 1943, Mr. Canale played in seven games, and in the following year, he participated in nine more. Realizing the football talent among them, the First Army Air Force Fighter Command asked him play on its team. He played seven games with the Army in 1945 while still suiting up for four professional football games with the Eagles.

One year after the war, he asked to be traded to the Boston Yankees and played for the team during the 1947-48 season. Although he decided to return to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1948, an injury ended his football career.

Mr. Canale returned to Watertown to co-manage with his brother, Richard, Canale's Restaurant, the family business. He was the restaurant's president for 30 years.

Mr. Canale used his knowledge of football to help aspiring local athletes. For three years, he coached the Red and Black Team of Watertown in the Eastern League. In that three-year span, the team won 23 of 25 games.

During his career, Mr. Canale met many sports and entertainment stars. Ed McMahon, spokesman for Publisher's Clearing House and formerly of the old Johnny Carson Show, met Mr. Canale while Mr. McMahon was trying out for Boston College's football team. Taking part in a scrimmage, he was assigned to play opposite Mr. Canale. After Mr. McMahon stopped him once, Mr. Canale came after him with a vengeance, ending any dreams he had of becoming a football player. 'He creamed me,' Mr. McMahon said, 'and I turned in my uniforms.'

Active in Republican politics in the 1960s, Mr. Canale was named chairman of the GOP Rally in honor of State GOP Comptroller Candidate John P. Lomenzo, and in 1962, Mr. Canale was appointed administrative assistant to Senator Henry A. Wise, aiding the former senator while New York Legislature was in session.

In October 1993, Mr. Canale was inducted into the Boston College Hall of Fame. In 1981, he received the Old Timers Certificate of Appreciation by the Red and Black Team of Watertown. Mr. Canale was honored in 1973 by the Italian-American Club as one of Watertown's great athletes.

He was a member of the National Football League Players Association, the Ives Hill Country Club and the Watertown Golf Club. Mr. Canale was a member of the Flower Memorial Library board of trustees. He was a communicant of St. Anthony's Church.

Rocco P. Canale died November 1, 1995, at age 75.

The Jefferson Community College Foundation is grateful to Mrs. Canale for establishing this scholarship.