Wrestler, 17, Was ‘A Caring Kid’
As his family and friends grieve a young life cut short, the Cold Spring Harbor school community is rallying around the family of Cody Taddonio, a decorated, four-year member of the Seahawks varsity wrestling squad who died in his sleep Dec. 8.
Taddonio, of Lloyd Harbor, was 17 years old.
One day before his sudden death, Taddonio overcame a nagging shoulder injury to win two of three matches and finish second in the 195 lb. weight class in a Massapequa wrestling tournament. His gritty performance helped lift the Seahawks to a third-place team finish and was a sign of his signature determination and love for the sport.
“Rather than leading this past week vocally, he led by example,” coach Mike Ferrugiari said in a post on the Long Island Wrestling Association forum shortly after Taddonio’s death. “The entire day he wrestled with a torn labrum and pushed his way to a final.”
His varsity wrestling team paid tribute to the fallen athlete Dec. 12 at a home meet against Massapequa. During a pregame ceremony, Taddonio’s wrestling shoes were placed at center ring under a spotlight as mourners gathered and paid their respects.
Cody’s mother, Susan Taddonio, said that her son got his start in martial arts through jiu-jitsu, a sport he studied under MMA star Matt Serra at his Huntington studio.
“Cody when he was there when he was about 8 years old… he was very strong,” Susan said. “Matt was the one that was always encouraging him to stick with it.”
Through jiu-jitsu and Cold Spring Harbor High School, he discovered wrestling and transitioned during his freshman year. His size was a factor in getting into varsity competition as a freshman, his mother noted.
Taddonio made his mark in the wrestling ring as a four-year varsity athlete who most recently competed in the 195 lb. weight class. He was a three-time All-Nassau County wrestler and was recently named a team captain, Ferrugiari said.
As tough as he was on the mats, Susan said that her son was equally compassionate.
“He was a really caring kid – to the point that if anything was going on in his life, he wouldn’t tell his friends. He put everybody else before himself, even me,” she said Tuesday. “He was honestly more concerned about everybody else in his life that he didn’t worry about himself.”
Susan, who works for the Cold Spring Harbor schools as a pediatric physical therapist, said her son showed an interest in working with children. He was active with his team’s Mighty Mites program and also had a gift for connecting with youngsters with special needs.
“He was diagnosed with ADHD as a young kid… he had own struggles with that, and he appreciated how other kids struggle,” she said. “Some of these kids get scared of kids like that. I never realized it until now that he didn’t… He would make sure those kids were OK and reach out to them.”
As the community has rallied around Taddonio’s family, his mother said she is getting a sense of the impact her son had in just 17 years.
“A mother, whose son is in the military, [came up to me and said], ‘Your son put my son in the right direction.’ I was just blown away by that,” she said.
Susan said she has been in touch with the Nassau County Wrestling Association and the Cold Spring Harbor School District with hopes of launching a scholarship fund in her son’s memory.
A funeral service was held on Dec. 12 at M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station, with additional visiting hours the following day. He was later cremated. A cause of death had not been released as of Wednesday.