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Bay Shore athletes bond after losing moms
Geese flying in formation reminds Betsy Glynn how her team was there when she needed them most.
After her mother Anne, 44, died of colon cancer in January 2010, Betsy’s Bay Shore High School field hockey team stepped up to help her family.
“Geese fly in formation when they’re migrating,” said Glynn, 17, of Brightwaters, repeating a philosophy taught to her by Bay Shore field hockey coach Mary Drago. “If one falls in the back of the pack, two others will swoop around to pick them up. When my mom passed away, I was that straggling goose that needed to be picked up and brought back into formation.”
Glynn recalls her mother inviting the team over for spaghetti the night before games. Months after her mother’s death, other players’ mothers continued dropping off groceries and homemade meals to feed her father and four siblings a number of times each week.
Closing ranks around a teammate has been an all-too-familiar process for the squad. A team member has lost a mom in each of the last three years.
Former players Michelle Garcia and Justina Syrett, and Justina’s younger sister Courtney, 17, a junior on the team, have felt the same support. Team mothers fed the Garcia family after Michelle’s mother Terry, 56, died of a heart attack on April 30, 2011.
“There was so much stuff given to us that it was pretty overwhelming,” said Garcia, 18, now a freshman at Purchase College. “It means a lot to me to have such amazing friends on those teams that supported me.”
The team pulled together again when another player’s mother, Marianne Syrett, 52, was in the hospital. She was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, recovered from that but then developed leukemia and died last February.
“Everyone realized it was happening again,” Drago said of another mom falling ill. “She was in the hospital for months. We were doing meals for her family at home. We did this for six or eight weeks straight.”
Despite the heartache, Drago said one of her proudest memories was that all team members attended the wakes and funerals together.
“Terry liked scarves, so the entire team wore scarves to the wake,” said Drago. “Marianne liked pink, so all the girls wore pink.”
Justina Syrett, now 19 and a junior at Towson University in Maryland, was a senior on the team when Betsy Glynn’s mother died. At Anne Glynn's wake Justina gave Betsy a stuffed goose named Gilbert. Glynn teared up, placed it inside her mother’s coffin and later took it home with her.
“My first game back, after my mom died, was really hard to not see her on the sidelines cheering,” Glynn said. “The sheer fact that I had my team stand behind me helped me get through it.”