By Katherine Hoey and Maia Vines
Thick, grey clouds weighed down on the sky, threatening to strike out a fundraiser high school softball tournament before it even began. But the clouds retreated in time for the first game, Massapequa versus West Islip.
On Sunday, April 6, The Massapequa High School Chiefs played against four high schools, West Islip, Syosset, Carey and Clarke, in a non-league tournament at Berner Middle School to raise money for the Madelyn Bowen Memorial Fund.
Despite the drizzle, 40 or so girls warmed up on the field, all dressed in matching white T-shirts that read, “Nevertheless She Persisted Tournament; in memory of Maddy Bowen”, and included a yellow cancer ribbon and Madelyn’s jersey number, 40.
The 2015 alumni and Chief’s former first-baseman and right fielder passed away six months ago from Synovial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the soft-tissue and occurs primarily in the arms and legs.
“The beginning of the day, with the weather, was just Maddy teasing the coaches,” Aline Bowen, Madelyn’s mother said.
In honor of Madelyn’s two passions, softball and politics, the 7,540 dollars raised from the tournament will award two scholarships to Massapequa High School female seniors who either play softball or are majoring in political science. The scholarships will be announced at the school’s senior athletic awards banquet June 11.
The memorial fund will also donate money to childhood cancer organizations, like NYU Winthrop Cancer Center for Kids, St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, Teen Cancer America, and Maggie’s Mission Research Foundation.
Originally, her parents, Charlie and Aline Bowen, donated money to NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, where Madelyn was treated.
After she passed, donations came pouring in, Krista Carcaterra, Maddy’s longtime friend and former teammate, said. The two started playing softball together for a travel league when they were ten years old.
“Her parents were like ‘We don’t want the money, put it somewhere where it’s helpful,’” Carcaterra said.
The Bowens created the Madelyn Bowen Memorial Fund in January and this was its third official fundraiser.
The tournament was the brainchild of the Chief’s coach, Christina Castellani, and assistant coach, Alyssa Seiber. The two Massapequa natives created the event to honor Madelyn.
“Our athletic director, John Piropato, was really supportive,” Seiber said. “When I asked him about it he said, ‘Absolutely, let me mark my calendar right now.’”
Being a part of the team is like being a part of a tight-knit family, Seiber said. It was on the softball field that Bowen met her longtime group of friends.
Everyone that knew Bowen was met with a smile, like Jessica Grillo, senior shortstop for the Chiefs who met Bowen when she was moved up to varsity as a freshman.
“She was always there,” Grillo said of Madelyn who remained a frequent presence at the Chief’s practices and games after she graduated.
“When she started her cancer battle, we all felt it. Every day we played for her not knowing the outcome and when the outcome did happen I immediately was like, I want this season dedicated to her,” she said.
Last week, Krista Carcaterra requested that Massapequa High School officials retire the jersey number, 40, that Bowen wore in high school.
“The board of education has never retired a number but we are investigating ways we can perhaps do that,” Lucille Iconis, superintendent for the Massapequa district, said.