Playing for Pride: Hofstra Field Hockey Honors Alumna with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
By Neil A. Carousso
Hempstead, NY — The Hofstra Pride Field Hockey team earned their 10th victory of the season, 6-3, Sunday, October 19 against the Rider Broncs on Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Awareness Day. However, it was no ordinary game as the Pride had even more motivation to win than their Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament hopes, which seemed to be an afterthought compared to the meaning of this regular season game.
Hofstra alumna Jillian Geysen played four seasons on the Pride field hockey team. She graduated from Hofstra in 2013. This past summer, Geysen was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system.
“Jill was one of my best friends and we were super close during her time here,” said Jonel Boileau, Pride senior captain, adding, “She’s the nicest person inside and out.”
Geysen was named honorary coach for the game against Rider.
“I just feel so much love, so much support and obviously this is one of the hardest times of my life,” Geysen said. “I couldn’t have asked for the amount of support that I had. It brings tears to my eyes,” added the 22-year-old.
Jill received her first chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on September 17. She is continuing treatment in Connecticut.
“She’s great. She’s really positive,” said Jill’s sister Jenna Geysen, who believes it’s Jill’s optimism that resonates with her loved ones. “She has such a strong mind and heart,” Jenna added.
The Pride sported t-shirts, purple wristbands, headbands and ribbons symbolizing the fight against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Shirts and wristbands were also sold to raise money for Jill’s medical expenses. Hofstra, clearly moved by Jill’s message, scored the first three goals of the game and ended on a high note with three unanswered goals.
“It’s quite a privilege for me and certainly our team to have this opportunity to dedicate this game to Jill,” De Angelis, in her 17th season as Pride head coach said.
In the pre-game ceremony, Hofstra gave Jill a framed number 1 blue jersey, which she wore from 2009 to 2012.
“I feel like this is my family. I have a second home here at Hofstra,” Jill said after the game. “It’s all about the fight. You never underestimate a team; you never underestimate any challenge that you’re faced with in your life. My time here has carried over into what I’m going through now and made me who I am.”