Katie Cassidy Higgins Memorial Lacrosse Tournament Time-honored tradition
A tradition continued at Sacred Heart Greenwich on Sunday — one that honored and remembered a student-athlete who was always willing to lend a helping hand to her classmates and was the consummate teammate.
The scene of hundreds of middle-school lacrosse players competing on Sacred Heart’s athletic fields throughout the day on Sunday meant that another highly successful Katie Cassidy Higgins ’96 Memorial Lacrosse Tournament was taking place.
The tournament, which celebrated its 16th anniversary, paid tribute to the late Katie Cassidy Higgins. A standout lacrosse, field hockey and basketball player at Sacred Heart, she died at the age of 19 during her sophomore year in 1997 at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. She was struck by a motorcycle while crossing a street near St. Lawrence’s campus.
During her senior season at Sacred Heart in the spring of 1996, she scored an impressive 66 goals for the Tigers’ lacrosse team. The beloved Cassidy Higgins proceeded to play on the lacrosse team at St. Lawrence, where she had a successful freshman season.
“Katie was an avid lacrosse player,” Katie’s mother, Tricia Higgins O’Callaghan said. “She was always devoted to helping younger players, both at Sacred Heart and St. Lawrence University, helping them with their shooting and offensive skills, but more importantly, with their confidence. She knew that if you believed you can do it, you can do it.”
Sacred Heart served as a second home to Katie, who formed special bonds with her classmates and teammates during her time at the school.
“Her legacy at Sacred Heart is one of always watching out for the younger girls, taking care of them on the bus rides to school, bringing them candy and cookies and helping the young ones learn to love the sport,” Higgins O’Callaghan said. “Katie’s coach for varsity lacrosse at St. Lawrence was Dotty Hall and her last memory of Katie was looking back at the field after practice and watching Katie helping the freshman girls with their shooting skills. She died later that night.”
The tournament included sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade lacrosse teams from Fairfield and Westchester County and also drew squads from Brooklyn and Harlem, N.Y. Besides a day filled with numerous games for each team, the youngsters were treated to music throughout the day. Three food trucks were also present and Katie Cassidy Higgins Lacrosse Tournament T-shirts were sold, at the event, which also included face painting and a bake sale.
All proceeds from the tournament went to the Katie Cassidy Higgins Scholarship Fund, which aids a freshman student-athlete at Sacred Heart. Megan Foley, Katie’s aunt, founded the tournament in 2002.
“The day was amazing,” Foley said. “It’s always a special day for my family. It’s hard and sad, but lacrosse and Sacred Heart were a huge part of Katie’s life and this was a beautiful way to remember her.”
It was raining a bit when the tournament commenced at 8 a.m., but the weather improved.
“The weather broke toward the middle of the tournament and the sun came out, so it ended up being a beautiful tournament,” Foley said. “It was a great day and everyone was having so much fun.”
Foley has enjoyed watching the event evolve over the years.
“It is different every year, because it is a middle-school tournament, so there are a lot of new faces coming in each year,” Foley said. “This is a great way to remember Katie, who was my little buddy. I watched her do something special at Sacred Heart — she had a successful high school lacrosse career — and an excellent college career at St. Lawrence.”
Said Higgins O’Callaghan: “It is important that we have this event for the middle school girls as they learn to love the sport and improve. Typically, the focus for tournaments of this kind is for only the varsity and JV teams, so this gives the younger girls a chance to become stronger competitors and learn to handle both winning and losing and being a good sport, which Katie always was.”