By Janee Law
With the initials “N.G.” and a breast cancer symbol stitched on the sleeves of their warm up shirts, and pink ribbons dangling from their hair and cleats, the Cold Spring Harbor girls lacrosse team honored the late Niki Gregory, a former longtime team supporter who died last October. Gregory, 62 at the time of her death, was a cancer survivor for nearly three decades.
On Monday, as they honored Gregory’s memory, the Seahawks battled to a 10-7 victory over the St. Anthony’s Friars.
“Everything was pink for the day,” said coach Danielle Castellane, adding that the fans wore pink, there were pink cookies, pink lemonade and the field was decorated with pink balloons to pay tribute to Gregory. “It was more or less a tribute to her forever, and to let the family know that they’re forever a part of our family.”
She continued, “We’ve been talking about her from time to time as a reminder of her strength, to keep going, and embody the characteristics that she had.”
Castellane coached Gregory’s youngest daughter, Chloe Golod, a 2009 Cold Spring Harbor graduate. After Chloe graduated, the Gregory family donated the Jim Ahem Turf Field, named after the previous district’s athletic director.
“Chloe didn’t even get the opportunity to play on the turf, it was put in after she left. That’s how wonderful this family was. They didn’t do it for the benefit of their own children, they did it to support Cold Spring Harbor, the community and the program,” Castellane said.
Against St. Anthony’s, the Seahawks held a four-point lead at halftime of the non-league contest. Watching from the sidelines, members of the Gregory family received flowers and the same warm up lacrosse shirts that the team wore to honor Niki Gregory.
Joseph Gregory, Niki Gregory’s husband, said, “My family was beyond moved, beyond proud, and so happy for our efforts to bring a different level of attention and regard for women's sports in Cold Spring Harbor. Danielle [Castellane] is teaching leadership and values to a special generation of women.”
He continued, “My Niki would have been so proud.”
Castellane said her team wanted to win, “That was a big reason why there were on the field,” but there was also more at stake. “The bigger reason was to support the Gregory family, and that we were doing it in honor of Niki,” who was a member of the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation and former chairwoman of the Maurer Foundation.
Cold Spring Harbor was led by freshman Caroline DeBellis’s three goals; senior Kate Kotowski’s two goals; Ashley Lynch’s two goals; sophomore Sophia DeRosa’s one goal; and senior Samantha DeBellis’ two goals. Junior Abbey Ngai recorded eight saves to preserve the win.
“Everybody raised their level for the day,” Castellane said. “Everybody was dominant, and did whatever they could to provide us with the win — starting with goalie and defense, all the way to our offense, including the people on the bench keeping our energy up and motivating each other.”