Katie Cassidy Higgins Tournament celebrates 15th anniversary
Greenwich Time, May 23, 2017
By David Fierro
Sunday was a much-anticipated day for Tricia Higgins O’Callaghan and the Sacred Heart Greenwich community.
The special day when Sacred Heart honors the memory of a beloved student-athlete took place Sunday, as the Katie Cassidy Higgins Memorial Lacrosse Tournament celebrated its 15th anniversary.
Hundreds of middle-school lacrosse players from 15 teams spanning Westchester and Fairfield County and New York City competed in numerous games over several hours — a scene that served as a perfect reminder of Katie Cassidy Higgins’ love for her school and lacrosse.
A lacrosse, field hockey and basketball player while at Sacred Heart, Katie Cassidy Higgins died at the age of 19 during her sophomore year at St. Lawrence University in 1997 after being struck by a motorcycle while crossing the street near the school’s campus. After graduating from Sacred Heart, she continued her lacrosse career at St. Lawrence.
“Leading up to this day, I’m a little pensive,” said Higgins O’Callaghan, Katie’s mother. “It makes me miss Katie so much. As I look around, I see her in all these kids. They are happy and having a ball and they love lacrosse. It’s sad beforehand, but I’m happy once I get here and talk to the kids and walk around and watch them play.”
Besides the teams playing lacrosse throughout the day, a DJ and vendors were present, along with three food trucks. All funds raised from the tournament went to the Katie Cassidy Higgins Scholarship fund — which makes it possible for a freshman student-athlete to attend Sacred Heart. At Sacred Heart’s sports awards ceremony this week, a varsity lacrosse player from this spring’s team will be presented with the Katie Cassidy Higgins Sportsmanship Award.
“Katie had a lot of spirit and a lot of life,” Higgins O’Callaghan said. “She loved her teammates and they loved and respected her. This tournament is a great way to remember her.”
Tim Higgins, Katie’s brother, enjoyed watching the youngters play the sport his beloved sister excelled in.
“It is a day we all look forward to,” Higgins said. “It is exciting to watch the teams who come from all areas come here to play. We feed on the excitement they have in the tournament — watching them run on all the fields is a great thing for us.
“My sister Katie went to Sacred Heart from kindergarten all the way through high school, she loved it here. The way the school has embraced the tournament from the first year has been phenomenal.”
Sarah Hill coached Higgins in field hockey and had her in physical education class. “The teams that come here come for the joy of playing lacrosse — it’s the same happiness Katie played with,” Hill said. “It reminds us how much she loved the sport and the school.”
Said Nancy Mara, Katie’s godmother: “I had five daughters who followed Katie here to Sacred Heart and they all wore her number (44) when they played lacrosse, basketball and field hockey to keep her memory alive for our family. We feel her presence here every time we step foot on these fields.”
Numerous members of Sacred Heart’s current lacrosse team were present to help out at the tournament.
“It’s a great event and we all love being here,” said Grace Paletta the captain of the Tigers’ lacrosse team, which captured the FAA championship. “It is great to take this time to remember her. Seeing so many teams here and everyone having such a great time makes us want to be a part of it.”
Added Sacred Heart senior Maddie McLane, the squad’s goalie: “Being here brings back a lot of memories. I used to play in this tournament, so to volunteer at it for four years is pretty incredible. Overall, it’s a great tournament.”