Saturday, May 29, 2004


By Julie Fialkow

When I think about Casey, I can't help but smile. I think of her at 2:30 in the morning in the ol' basement, sleep a distant memory, still smiling, still running in circles around the rest of the staff (if I recall, literally).

She was better than a huge cup of coffee. She was so sunny, so effravescent. Casey was one of those people who strangers are drawn to and her friends always feel it when she's not there. I remember a few moments in college whether it be in the office or at a bar that were a little quiet, a little blah, and uniformly we would go, "Hey, where's Casey? Someone get her here!"

I remember walking down to the basement and just hearing her say "Jules!" would make my day. Casey made everyone feel like a rockstar.

Actually, she was the closest thing the Collegian ever had to a rockstar - and held that role modestly and effortlessly. I have never met a woman like Casey before and I know I never will. She could put the boys to shame with her Pop-a-shot moves, and slay them looking fierce in a shiny green ball gown.

She was warm, lovely, hysterically funny, and wicked smart as they say in Massachusetts. Last time I saw Casey we were playing Trivial Pursuit. Do I need to tell you there was no contest? I
think I saw my roomates heads spin. Really. She knew about Russian politics and pop culture. A double, triple, heck, a quadruple threat in every way.

I just got a postcard from Casey a few months ago. She drops in the middle that she's back in chemo but quickly follows it up by seeing the bright side which is that at least she can watch the Red Sox. Always staying positive despite the crappiest circumstances. I feel blessed for having known Casey.

She embodied so many amazing qualities that all of us strive to be. Her strength and beauty will continually inspire me throughout my life.

Julie worked with Casey at the UMass Daily Collegian.

Friday, May 28, 2004

The Haphazard Colleen

From Hampshire Life Magazine, March 13, 1998
By Casey Kane

I think my scream was the loudest. Last Jan. 10, when the call came telling me and the 20 other women to line up, it was only 6:10 p.m. I was still wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt. My hair was in a ponytail and my "dress" shoes were emblazoned with the word Adidas.

The minutes before the Holyoke Colleen Contest were winding down, and I was nowhere near ready. All week I had been jokingly calling myself the Haphazard Colleen. I made no bones about the fact that my usual hairdo is a ponytail and I can count on my hands the number of times I've worn makeup. When I told people what I was doing their response was "You?!? In a dress?!?"

But, truth be told, I have always wanted to ride on the colleens' float in my hometown parade. I have memories of holding my father's hand as a little girl and walking to the spot in front of Holyoke High School where my family always settled in to watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade. We'd brave the typically blustery mid-March day with a thermos or two of hot chocolate and afghans made by my grandmother.

As the members of the Holyoke High School band marched by I knew the float carrying the Grand Colleen was approaching. I always thought the colleen's float was the most beautiful, its sparkling colors ablaze in the early spring sun. The women on the float were even more regal than their vessel, decked out in green gowns, glittering jewelry and elegant fur coats.

I dreamed of one day sitting atop the parade centerpiece, waving to my adoring public, a smile that would make Pepsodent jealous. I yearned for the chance to don a tiara, longed for the trip to Ireland that the Grand Colleen wins.

EVERY YEAR THE Holyoke St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee holds a pageant to select the year's reigning colleen. The contest is open to females of Irish descent from Holyoke and South Hadley. They must be between the ages of 17 and 22; they must also be single and have never had a child.

During my high school years, several friends of mine were chosen as colleens, yet I always put off entering the contest. "I'm waiting until next year," I'd say, or "I missed this year's deadline."
But I turned 22 last July, and the fact that the contest's age limit is 22 was not lost on me.

In the fall, when I saw the announcement of the annual contest in the paper, I knew what I had to do. With my days of eligibility dwindling, I vowed to enter this year's contest.

Of course, I was up against more than I was prepared for.
First of all, I am a college student, and the collegiate budget is not designed for a wear-it-once-and-you're-done formal gown. I mean, I run with a crowd that thinks getting dressed up simply means coming anywhere near an iron. So with my bargain-shopping younger brother Tim's words ringing in my ears, I headed for the Amherst Salvation Army store. There I found a beautiful, hardly worn, off-the-shoulder light green dress for $12.99. There were girls in the contest whose earrings cost more than my dress.

Since my friends are also more prone to apply athlete's eye black than eye shadow, I had no idea what to do with my hair and makeup. But after a lot of frustration on my part, along with incredible patience and generosity from my fellow colleens, I managed to come up with a simple, elegant look.

The look, however, is only part of what makes up the Holyoke Colleen Contest.

The day of the pageant began with each colleen being interviewed by a panel of three judges. I'm sure everything went all right. I can't quite remember for sure, however, because it was 8:40 a.m.; I had drawn the early-bird #2 spot out of a hat. I am not a morning person, and I only hope it didn't show too badly. I do remember I was asked such things as my career goals (sportswriting), what kind of books I like to read (John Grisham and various sports books), and why I wanted to be colleen (see above).

That took care of the very early morning. For the rest of the day I had to sit and wait for the other contestants to complete their interviews. I didn't have an appointment to get my hair done, nor did I schedule anything at the nail salon. I was the Haphazard Colleen.

This fact became painfully obvious when one of the pageant directors announced a final walk-through of the evening's event, prompting my scream. Fifty minutes later, however, after several tries with curling irons, hair sprays, blushes, mascaras and powders, I was escorted by a Marine named Raymond out onto the stage of the Leslie Philips Forum at Holyoke Community College.

The lights were intense, and that, combined with the fact that I was not wearing my glasses, made it impossible to see anything more than 3 feet in front of me. But when I strolled through the trellised archway on the arm of my impeccable Marine, all my pre-pageant fears and jitters washed away.

I felt like a princess. And for the three minutes or so it took emcee Kathy Tobin of Channel 40 to read my resume, for the brief time I was alone on the stage in front of everyone assembled, I felt beautiful and important and admired – just as I'd imagined the Grand Colleen would.

While we waited backstage for each contestant to be introduced, we voted for Miss Congeniality and had pictures taken. Despite the activity, the nervousness was palpable. Then, after what seemed like an eternity and a half, we all filed back on stage for the announcing of the winners.

Jennifer Wall took home Miss Congeniality, and was picked as one of the five colleens who would go on to compete for the title of Grand Colleen. Annie Glanville, Sarah Hohol, Megan Murphy and Kimberly Willis were named finalists as well. Willis would go on to be named Grand Colleen at the Coronation Ball on Feb. 28 at the Log Cabin. All five will ride on the colleen float in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 22.

Though I wasn't one of the finalists, I wasn't disappointed as I walked from the stage, the audience still applauding the five. Sure I would have liked the chance to ride on the float in the parade. But I had fulfilled enough of my dream by simply entering the contest.
And I still have the dress, the bow that came with my flowers, and many pictures. I tell my friends that yes, I entered the contest and I had a great time.

"You?!?!" they say.

"Yeah, me."

University of Massachusetts student Casey Kane of Holyoke was an intern with the Gazette's sports department this winter.

Tears worthy

By Seth Bradford Koenig

I used to believe that before a person shed tears over
the passing of another, that that person must first
earn the right to shed those tears.

I would see acquaintances crying at funerals that I
thought they had no business even attending, much less
crying at. I would think to myself, in my typical
vent, "What is SHE crying about? She didn't even know
grampa that well. She's just trying to draw attention
to herself - this is Grampa's moment, not hers. She
hasn't done anything for Grampa to deserve to cry for

Casey, I thought, was a person that I always
respected... and respected, I thought, way too much to
cry for when I didn't deserve to do so. It was my
friend Matt that stood beside her through all of her
hardest times, and it was Matt that would take her out
to eat from the hospital on her day pass, and it was
Matt that I'd occasionally ask, "How's Casey these

An occasional "How's Casey these days?", I thought,
was not even close to enough effort as a friend to
warrant me drawing attention from those who deserve
it. I didn't believe I deserved to cry. Passing
inquiries into her well-being had not all-of-a-sudden
thrown me into Casey's inner-circle, and Casey's
inner-circle is who needs our support right now,
because Casey's inner-circle was there for her when
she needed them to be.

Matt put in the love and effort for Casey and
therefore he now deserves to shed tears. It's my job
to be there to talk if he needs someone, I thought,
not to shed tears myself.

Yet as I remember how much fun Casey made the
Massachusetts Daily Collegian when she took over the
Editor-in-Chief position her senior year there - my
sophomore - all I have are sunny thoughts. Smiles.

Anybody that's been to the UMass campus center
basement, where the Collegian offices are found, can
tell you that it can be a very depressing place to
spend time if the right people aren't around. Before
Casey took over the top position at that paper, it was
a little more like work and less like a calling.

When Casey was the editor I was working for, writing
was a calling. It was inspiring. I looked forward to
being in the windowless basement offices, oftentimes
called the "dungeon" in as lovingly a manner as people
can use the term. At the risk of sounding corny, Casey
was our sunlight down there. She made sure the work
got done, but made sure we were all having fun doing
it and she fueled our passion.

All I remember are smiles.

I remember smiles on HER face, and I remember smiles
on the faces of every other person that worked down
there. I remember smiles on the faces of all the
people that have written stories for this website.

As much as I never thought I deserved to cry at this
moment, I find some tears rolling down toward the
corners of my mouth right now.

Whether or not I've earned the right to shed tears for
Casey, there's no doubt in my mind that Casey earned
the right to draw tears from my eyes. Maybe it's not
about who deserves to shed them. Maybe it's about who
deserves to draw them.

Casey deserves every last tear that's shed, and it
does her justice that despite my attempts at
restraint, I can't seem to keep them in. Casey Kane,
these tears are for you, and I mean no disrespect.

Seth worked with Casey at the UMass Daily Collegian.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Burying the lead, making her pitch

By Jon Solomon

I received a bizarre e-mail from Casey on March 19 updating her situation.

Her first five paragraphs were spent asking about my new job; wishing she could watch college baseball in the South and out of the snow; wondering how my NCAA bracket was going; complaining that her brother successfully picked Manhattan over Florida; whining that my school, Maryland, defeated her Dookies in the
ACC final; and ranting that South Carolina lost in the NCAAs, calling it a sad day in Gamecock Nation (the lame nickname she stole from her beloved Red Sox).

The sixth graf: Casey’s cancer had returned, the reason she was writing with this “depressing news,” as she called it.

Typical Casey. She buried the lead.

Except for Casey, the lead was never conventional. If it were, would we miss her the way we do now?

I am crushed about Casey leaving us far, far too soon. She and I had a unique relationship – wasn’t every relationship of hers unique? – as colleagues in Anderson, S.C., and later after she left.

I got to witness her antics up close each day in the newsroom. Let’s just say she was far from a perfect employee early on, and leave it at that. I endured the challenge first-hand when I briefly became her boss and kept her from covering a South Carolina baseball series in the NCAA Tournament.

Later, when Casey got sick, we were able to speak candidly about her illness. My sister survived cancer on two occasions a while ago, and I held that out as a carrot for Casey.

Just fight a little more, I urged her. Compile a plan to beat it. Ask lots of questions. Keep fighting, Casey. Keep fighting. Jessica’s been cancer-free for so long now, you can do it, too. She ran the L.A. Marathon, Casey. You can run Boston some day.

She finally met Jessica at my wedding in November, the last time I saw her. Casey called it one of the highlights of her weekend.

In typical Casey fashion, she was often scared to talk about her illness. Mostly, she was scared about how other people would react, so she sheltered many of us.

I imagine she felt it was easier for us to handle. Casey loved putting others first. A relative of hers told me that in Casey’s final days, she was apologetic about not helping a cousin with his school project as she had promised.

In subsequent e-mails after her cancer returned, Casey discussed writing something to help young adults through cancer diagnosis.

“It’s too lofty to call it a book,” she wrote modestly, and perhaps correctly. “It’s not only giving me something to do to get my mind working, which is a really nice feeling, but it could end up helping somebody else. But even if I’m the only one who ever sees it, I think it will be a useful project.”

It’s hard to say how far along she had gone with the project. There are countless notebooks her family must go through – some of them empty and some with only a handful of random thoughts – and maybe more writings on her computer.

If anyone has e-mail messages or letters Casey sent about her illness that you feel comfortable sharing, please send it to Matt or myself. My e-mail address is Perhaps one day enough thoughts will be compiled to let Casey help cancer patients deal with their suffering the way she helped us live.

Since Casey first became ill, I have thought about her in relation to a story she wrote in May 2000. The topic was a high school softball pitcher coping with her father’s sudden death. It is still one of my proudest moments, because I helped edit it and pushed Casey to keep digging for more information.

When Casey put her mind to it, she could achieve anything. She knew it; we all knew it. That’s why she beat cancer so many times.

In this particular story, Casey’s ability to speak so freely with people was exquisite. She unearthed delicate details about the softball pitcher’s relationship with her father. Casey’s lead:

PENDLETON, S.C. – There was never a moment’s doubt in her mind.
Pendleton High School softball pitcher Brooke Norris may have worried about how she would throw, or whether she’d be able to make it through the game, but she knew she had to be on the mound.
With more than 300 spectators to support her and an empty chair behind the backstop where her father Tommy always sat, Brooke offered the best tribute she could to the man, who died of a heart attack Saturday morning.
She pitched.

I don’t know when or how I will fill the hole vacated by Casey’s death. I like to think now that her March 19 e-mail was not her burying the lead, but rather Casey writing exactly the way she lived.

She made her pitch. We must somehow keep carrying it, for Casey and for ourselves.

Jon worked with Casey at the Anderson Independent Mail. He currently covers Clemson for The State.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Another Duke fan

By Amy Apicerno
People make fun of me constantly and continuously for my blind love for all that is UMass. For people who do not understand my happy place, I can only say that UMass is where I learned to live and love. Looking back, I would not change a thing because it was there that I experienced a lot, had a lot of fun (but seriously, only about 30% of the stories are true...ok, maybe half) and learned to think outside the box. More importantly, I met some of the most incredible people whose influence will always stay with me.

Casey Kane is one of those people. My first Casey encounter was in a tiny press box on Garber field. She was excitedly writing about field hockey while I was butchering names over the PA in my (at the time) flagrant RI accent. In minutes I recognized how unprecedented she was. It was very refreshing for me to see a woman not only surviving, but thriving, in a field dominated by men without half the intelligence or talent that she had. She was so natural in that role and exuded it so effortlessly. It only took days before I had borrowed her huge Duke bag from the campus store in Cameron filled with tons of memorabilia from the late 80s and early 90s men's basketball teams. And to think, there was someone else who shared my fascination with Bobby Hurley.

The impact that Casey would have continued to make for women's equality in the work place, with a little more time, was boundless. I feel very fortunate to have been graced by her presence and very sad, not only for her family and friends, but for all of the women that would have benefitted from her work.

UMass is a place where some people still live nearby, other visit frequently and some are trying to return. Regardless of our relationship with it or who the men's basketball coach is currently, it is a place that since Casey stepped foot on campus, will never be the same.

Amy worked in media relations at UMass.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Misty-eyed memory

By Leigh Torbin

In true Collegian fashion, my misty eyed memories of three
wonderful years in the campus center basement with Casey:

The unbridled love of the Boston Red Sox...How she'd stay on me
with that tough love to keep going when it took five hours to write a
routine column because I'd get so wrapped up in totally random
things and the quest for just the right cheesy 80's song and deciding
which of D.P. Dough's 17,281 different calzones to have sent over
to the Batcave...

The wonderful, motivating "Torbin Write!" sign she made for me with some photo from a lingerie ad for when I wouldn't get going at moments like that. Man, I wish I still had that thing...I also clearly hear her voice yelling "Torbin write." Lord knows I heard that phrase enough...

Her actually allowing my often insane yet colorful ramblings to run in the paper...Her unequivocal agreement that the Yankees do in fact suck. I can't comprehend the joy she must have felt knowing that the day she passed, Derek Jeter was hitting .187. Talk about going in peace!!!...

The look on her face if you ever pronounced (Holyoke) it holy-oak and not whole-yoke. Holy cow, she'd let you have it...Her love of all UMass sports and perspective to know that tennis had an important match that day when the whole world was thinking basketball...Of course hockey wasn't really tooting its horn yet...

Good times with her and Matty in that house apartment his senior year with Juice and some other guys whose names I forget...

Lou Merloni, Casey's boy, now and forever, whether he's with Cleveland, Anaheim or Milwaukee, I can't just see him up at bat without thinking of her...

The evervescent smile on Casey's face and her refreshing good charm...I was lucky enough to know the southern Casey too and the incredible job she did - not knowing a soul - of instantly assimilating with NASCAR Nation while never losing touch with who she was or where she came from...I'll never forget the 2000 South Carolina-Florida football game because it was an amazing game. Winner take all for the SEC East on national TV, UF goes down 21-3 at the Swamp when the Bachelor himself, Jesse Palmer, comes off of the bench in relief of Rex Grossman to lead the Gators back for the win, throwing the game
winning TD to a lineman.

One of the country's wildest venues has seldom been wilder. And while I already couldn't forget that game, so far as I can recall, that was also the last time I actually saw Casey which now makes it that much more meaningful to me.

It was great to see her doing so well professionally. I stood with her at the end of the third quarter in the press box (my favorite part of a game at the Swamp) and I'll never forget the bewildering look of utter amazement in her eyes when the whole stadium sang the traditional "We Are the Boys From Old Florida." It was a long, long, long way from Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium, yet to this day her
mesmerized reaction to it is still very near in my mind...

She didn't make the return game in 2001 in Columbia but it sounded like she'd be OK and we all hoped we'd see her again at the Swamp in

Matty shaved his head. That's touching and all, but I wish I
could forget the image...Although I heard little of late and saw less,
I know how she persevered through her illness over several years
hanging in for the long haul like any dedicated Sox fan would, since
we all know full well that the best things come to those who wait
and also that it wasn't over when the Germans bombed Pearl

Matty's Buck Martinez story from the blog. That's way too perfect. I'll remember that for a long time...But, she's left us for a better place. One where the Sox are 85 time defending World Series Champs (since somehow losing to the Cubs in 1918), the Yankees have been relegated so far they're half way to the California Penal League, there's REALLY good satellite TV service, great internet connections to read this stuff, and Jerry Remy's voice echoes on the wind.

What more could she want?
Leigh worked with Casey at the Collegian at UMass and then worked in Media Relations at Florida, while Casey covered South Carolina.

Matt's eulogy

By Matt Vautour

I’ve gotten quite a few emails in these past several days and there have been a couple of themes running through them.

The first, naturally, was people offering condolences and anything they could do to help. On behalf of the Kane family, I’d like to say thank you for that.

The second thing that a lot of people have mentioned is Casey’s sports loves, specifically Duke basketball and the Red Sox. Several of those people who hate Duke have said they fell like they should root for the Blue Devils this year in Casey’s honor. Casey’s friend Justin, a die-hard Yankees fan, said he might even have to pull for the Red Sox.
Well I’ll leave your rooting up to you, but I think Casey would rather you root for your teams so she could have bragging rights when her teams win. And I wouldn’t want to be a North Carolina or a Yankee fan now that Casey has direct access to the big guy.

Anyway, Casey told me once that the best compliment that I ever gave her was that she was good at everything. I told her that in Chicago, after she insisted on facing the fastest pitches at a batting cage across the street from Wrigley Field. She hadn’t held a bat in years, but delivered line drive after line drive. She blushed at the compliment, but then proceeded to sing Sheryl Crow’s “If it makes you happy” out of tune at the top of her lungs to prove that she wasn’t good at everything.

Singing aside, there wasn’t much she wasn’t good at. From swimming to saxophone, pool-to-pop-a-shot basketball at Rafters to sports writing to being a friend. I told her once that she was going to be famous. Her combination of intelligence, enthusiasm and sense of humor had her on track.

I don’t know anyone that was better than she was at being a cancer patient.

Through three battles, with Hodgkin’s Disease, changes in procedures and medications, hairstyle and lifestyle, Casey carried herself with such grace and dignity. She didn’t think she was courageous because, as she’d admit, she was afraid. But courage isn’t the lack of fear, but who you carry yourself in the face of it.

Casey made you forget that her body was weak, because her mind and her spirit were so strong.

You’d visit her worried about her, but within moments she’d have you laughing making you forget that there was anything wrong with her at all. That’s a gift.

Even strangers were drawn to her. That’s why her nurses from South Carolina, who had hundreds of patients would call to see how she was, even after he care switched to Boston. Her father called her the MVP in that respect. He said you can’t spend any length of time with her and not love her. The people that are here with us today are the ones that were lucky enough to be loved back.
We are surrounded by cancer. We see it everyday and we’re scared. But I know if we someday face what she has faced, we’d all be proud to handle ourselves the way that she did.

I’d like to close today with the words of Jill Carroll. Jill worked with Casey at the UMass Daily Collegian and the two of them became friends instantly. I don’t think I ever saw one of them mention the other without smiling. For the past few years Jill has served as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East covering the events of the Iraq war. She sent Casey this e-mail from Egypt in hopes of cheering her up when she heard Casey had pneumonia.

“I've thought of you everyday these past few months. I've been trying to send you my happy thoughts, positive energy and strength. But I know you don't need any of these things. You already have the strength to handle more than any of us can be asked to bear and the inner joy to do it with grace and a laugh. You always fight harder, laugh louder and love deeper than any friend I have. You and I have always been drawn to the most colorful, shiny, sparkly things we can find. I know that's why we ended up friends in those crazy college days. You were the most brilliant treasure I had ever come across. Like a red dress covered in sequins (that you KNOW we'd both buy in a second!) you dazzle everyone when you walk in a room. From Jordan to Iraq I have carried the picture of us that you gave me, the one in the green flower frame. We're holding drinks in the clubhouse, grining into the camera. It always makes me smile and in the worst times it always gives me strength because I know no matter what silly troubles I have, you have already pioneered a path through thicker jungles. Your loyalty as a friend has made me feel comforted in the many lonely times out here. I've been too far away these past few years but you have always remained close, indelibly imprinted on my heart and in my thoughts. You are the best EIC the Collegian ever knew, the best damn sports reporter Lou Merloni ever had the priviledge to meet but most of all you are the truest friend I've ever been lucky enough to have by my side. I love you Casey”

We all do.

Amy and Grover

By Jake Grove

The night was like any other at the local watering hole for the Anderson Independent-Mail staff. We were drinking too much and playing pool worse than ever. That was the first time I really remember meeting Casey.

Sure, we had met in passing during her interview, but when she actually came to work and someone dragged (a term I use loosely because like all of us young journalists, no one ever had to drag us to a bar) her to the bar for some decompression. I was a few 7 and 7s into the evening and decided to play some pool. Casey decided she wanted to play me.

"Hey Amy," I said with a slightly slurred voice. "You ready to get beat."

"I'm Casey, and yes," she said with a sly grin.

"Really? Your name is Casey? I could have sworn it was Amy," I responded with a miscue on the break.

"Nope, It's Casey," she said, sinking her first shot.

"I think I'm just going to call you Amy from now on. Would that be okay?"


I don't remember much more from that night aside from having my butt kicked in pool regularly. The Amy/Casey thing became a running joke between us.

People would ask Casey why Jake was calling her Amy and Casey would just tell them that that is what I think her name is. In fact, the last time I saw her was a night I was bartending at that same pub and right before she left, I yelled out, "See you later, Amy."

We both had a few tears in our eyes and she said, "Bye Grover."

Cool lady that one.

Good times. Good times.

* * *

When the newspaper staff in Anderson first found out about Casey's cancer, a kind of "Help Casey" board was set up. This was a way we could take Casey to her treatments and appointments, get her the food she needed and otherwise be her parents while she stayed in Anderson.

Well, of course, everyone helped out, but I remember taking her up to
the doctor's appointment for some followup to a treatment. Anyone who knows me knows that I get easily distracted and I wanted to be focused for this trip.

Of course, anyone that knows Casey knows that she isn't about to let
someone focus on cancer when there is fun to be had.

By the time we reached the exit for the hospital we weren't thinking
about anything cancer related. Instead, we were devising a plan to somehow get our hands on a couple of wheelchairs for some racing. We went in, calm as could be, and I figured I would be outside for most of the checkup. Aside from a few moments, Casey wanted me to hang out with her through the whole thing and I learned more about that hospital and her ailment than I ever thought I would.

I also learned where they keep the wheelchairs.

Of course, karma wouldn't let us take the chairs, but I do remember wheeling her out to the car just for fun. And I remember looking at Casey and knowing that no matter what, she would do this thing on her own terms. I really believe she did.

And I know I was a better person for knowing her.

Then again, who among could possibly say otherwise.
Jake worked with Casey at the Anderson Independent Mail

Monday, May 24, 2004

The heart of the Collegian

By Jill Carroll

One night during our senior year in college the whole class of '99 Collegian crew along with Matt, Casey's brother Chris and my roomates ended up at a restaurant in Northampton for late-night food and drinks.

The Collegian staff is a pretty tight group, especially that year, and we sat around the table laughing and trading gossip and inside jokes. My three roomates, all with swimming backgrounds and two on the UMass team at the time, didn't know the newspaper folks too well but wanted to come along because they were Collegian fans.

Casey, recongnizing the awkwardness, turned to them with her swimming background and encyclopedic sports knowledge and started chatting them up about the swim team, the coaches and who was going to swim what in Atlantic-10's. She named actual names of team members and what they swam---a shocking depth of knowledge for a student at a school where I guarantee 90% of people didn't know a swim team existed.

No one else would have had the compassion to want to make them feel included and follow an obscure sport like women's swimming enough to be able to make them a part of the table that night.

Casey kept a field hockey stick behind her desk at the Collegian and would frequently whip it out and kick a makeshift ball around while talking through ideas.

She would sometimes sail through the air of the newsroom playing catch with a lacrosse stick.

She knew headline counts and column counts by heart.

She believed in journalism as the public service that it is and infused that theme in all of us.

She got the nickname "coach" by some of the staff.

She shook the sports world everytime someone met the face behind the byline and discovered a woman.

She came as Jem to the Collegian costume party.

I spent the "greatest day ever" with her playing softball and eating hotdogs in my backyard at the one-time-only Collegian picnic. Years later she sent me a picture of all of us from that day, festooned in the rhinestones and glitter she knows I love.
She came in the beautiful green dress she wore in Holyoke's Irish festival pagent in (whose name escapes me) to the Collegian formal at my house---an event she conceived. We danced so hard the floorboards flexed and pictures were knocked off my neighbors' walls.

We laid on pillows on the floor of the Collegian "clubhouse" the night of graduation, determined to stay there until dawn.
As graduation loomed, she surveyd us all on questionnares she drew up. When I saw her last winter she pulled out the book of collected questionnaries, and there was an invaluable glimpse of that brief, rich period that she had had the foresight to capture.

She got me reading Rick Bragg.

She lead us to the NENA conference in '99 where we won Daily newspaper of the year.

She battled the Student Government Association, the Graduate Student Union and the administration to keep the paper independent.

She was the wise one we turned to to weather these storms, who, truely, always knew what to do.

I turned to wine-in-a-box and Casey to save me during the hellish weeks in August 1998 when I, as a totally unqualified news editor, tried to put the news pages together for the first editon of the paper.

About to embark on her stem cell treatment, she was the one who drove all the way to New York to visit me.

She brought an album of picturs of friends from the Collegian. On the back of each pictures were quotes and memories from those people which she had collected for me. She made it because I was moving overseas and she didn't want me to feel lonely.

While she was sick and recovering from her treatments she made care packages for me, decorated in detail and covered in inspirational quotes.

She sent me a postpcard of a dog dancing on its hind legs on the beach to tell me she had cancer.

We made plans for her to come see me in the Middle East one day. I know now she's finally here.

Jill worked with Casey at the UMass Daily Collegian. She's currently covering events in the Middle East.

Hire her now

By Kendall Matthews

I guess you could say she had me at hello. When Casey
interviewed at the Anderson Independent-Mail in '99, I
talked to her for all of five minutes before I said to
sports editor Randy Beard, "Hire her now."

Hard to believe that was almost five years ago. Harder
to believe she's gone now.

It's funny the things you remember. A long afternoon
sitting in McDonald's talking about baseball and life.
Walking through Circuit City looking at CDs and
talking about Bull Durham (greatet movie ever).

Stories from the road, countless funny stories about
her and CB and Smitty and the things they did. Casey
wearing a tiara to lunch and checking the mirror every
two minutes to watch it sparkle in the light.

Yeah, she touched my life in a lot of ways. I check on
Lou Merloni's stats in boxscores now, something I
never would've thought of doing on my own. I now know
that you can't learn from your mistakes if you don't
make mistakes; she taught me that.

I didn't get to work with Casey very long, but I tried
to read her stuff as often as I could. She had skills,
professionally speaking, but as a friend, she was 100
times more important. She brought me up when I was
down, and calmed me down when my life spun out of
control. I showed up at her door unannounced more
times than I probably should have, but she never
freaked out, and something good always came out of
those visits.

Casey stopped by The State in Columbia, S.C., where I
work now, for a visit. I was so proud to show her off
to everyone in the office, and she lit up the place,
like she always did. That was the last time I saw her.

I'm glad I got one last hug before she left.

Kendall worked with Casey at the Anderson Independent Mail.

Making the most of her dash

By Arni Sribhen

A few weeks ago, I was watching the memorial service for Pat Tillman, the NFL player who was killed while serving as an Army Ranger. A comrade of his from the military said something like this:

"That one little dash in there represents a lifetime. How do we spend our dash?"

Casey Kane spent her dash being a really good friend to a lot of people.

I first met Casey in 1999. I started at the Anderson Independent-Mail in June and several weeks later, we had more job openings.

One of the new reporters we hired that summer was Casey -- though I questioned whether she really existed or not, since I never met her during her interview, and she took her time starting at the paper.

But she did show up, she became one of the most-liked members of the staff. She was quick to join a conversation, even if her selective hearing only heard a few things, like something that sounded like her name.

I was one of the first people she told she had cancer. In her own way, the conversation went something like this.

Me: "Sports, this is Arni."
Casey: "Arni, I won't have my story today. I have cancer."
Me: "You're joking right?"
Casey: "No."

I immediately went into a panic, but I was calmed down when Casey told me the same thing she told the doctor who first diagnosed her "Don't be sorry, I'm going to beat this."

A lot of the people I worked with in Anderson will probably fill the pages of this website with stories of Casey's short-time with us in Anderson.

I'll sum it up with this quote: "A friend is one who walks in when others walk out" -Walter Winchell

If any words could describe Casey Kane, it would be those.

As recently as a few weeks ago, I got a postcard from her wishing me luck with my new job with the IRL. She told me she was happy for me and mentioned she had become a big fan of driver Kasey Kahne.

When she left Anderson for the last time, she shed a couple of tears, but we didn't say goodbye.

"This is not goodbye. It's see you soon," I told her. She promised she would.

I guess I'll have to wait a little longer.

Arni worked with Casey at the Anderson Independent Mail.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Baseball trivia

By Matt Vautour
I'm going to probably write several of these.

Because she wearing an oxygen mask, Casey was a little difficult to understand in the hospital for the past 14 days.

Last Friday night (May 14), the nurse on duty came into the room to check Casey's blood pressure while she watched the Red Sox game.

As the nurse began de-velcroing the blood pressure arm band, Casey said something, but because of the mask, the nurse didn't catch it asked her to repeat it. But it was still unintelligible.

"What do you need honey?" the nurse, an older Asian woman, asked.

Finally Casey lifted the mask off and said "Buck Martinez."

The nurse looked at Casey and then the rest of us, like maybe the pain medication was messing with Casey's thoughts.

The rest of us in the room started giggling. On the TV, NESN's trivia question read: "Who managed the Toronto Blue Jays before current manager Carlos Tosca?"

The answer, of course, was Buck Martinez.

Casey wanted to make sure we knew, that despite her physical problems, nobody was beating her on baseball trivia.

Lighting our way

By Stacy Schorr Chandler

The world lost a brilliant soul when Casey Kane passed away last week. Brilliant in terms of wisdom, sure, but Casey's brilliance was most apparent in terms of light.

She lit up the lives of everyone around her with her big smile, her hearty laugh and her passion for living. It was impossible -- impossible -- to be sad around Casey. Even when her friends found out in 2000 that she'd been diagnosed with cancer at the age of 24. We cried, sure, and we raged against the injustice of something like that happening to someone so young, so vibrant, so kind. But her courage -- and unfailing ability to crack a joke and to be the comforter even when she was the one in danger -- buoyed us all. Even when I accompanied her to chemotherapy once, that grin never stopped. I'd brought magazines with me in the expectation that she'd want to sleep, or at least not be yammered at, at some point during the 3-4 hour procedure. I didn't get to look at a single page. We talked and laughed and behaved badly until it was time to go home. Last November, she made the trip from Massachusetts (not easy for her, I know) to come to my wedding reception and was the belle of the ball. Maybe a month or two before she died, she sent us an Elvis postcard for no reason -- just to brighten our day, I guess, which it certainly accomplished. I heard that even in the days just before she left us, she was making jokes and keeping a smile on her face.

And now one might assume with her passing that her light has gone out. But in the few days since her death, I can already tell it is still with us -- that she is still with us. It shines in the way her friends have been calling each other, to plan logistics of getting to her funeral, sure, but also just to say hello and "I love you" and to talk about old times. I've been on the phone constantly the past couple days, reconnecting with folks who call just to check on us, just to say hello. That's very much in Casey's spirit, and it is a very positive side-effect of what otherwise is a very painful event. It's just the beginning of her legacy, I think. She taught all of us a lot, even as she cracked us up and showed us a good time, and she'll continue guiding us with her light for the rest of our lives.

Thanks Casey.

Stacy worked with Casey at the Anderson Independent Mail

14 Years of Friendship

By Heather Leenders

First Thoughts

How do you share with the world those things that we shared without telling the whole story?

With you a ride up the chairlift is a timeline of the first day we spent together as real friends. Run after run until the lights came on. In my mind I’m looking down at the upside-down, heart-shaped rock where you had a first kiss. (Hope you don’t mind that I’m telling.)

Do you remember “Bay Windows?”

With you I just utter the word “mattress” and we burst into laughter. Without explanation this might make others wonder. Come to think of it, I’m still not sure why carrying an air mattress up two flights of stairs (including a small landing) was fall down hysterical, tears streaming down your face funny. In 14 years you’ve never gotten through the whole explanation without laughter swallowing your words.

“Watch out for the pole… you… just… hit….” Who else can claim a more memorable first outing on the new driver’s license?

With you pouring a cup of soda on the purple rug in my room brings four words to mind: “Don’t let it spill.” More laughter, and the fizz tops the rim of the glass. The stains still there are reminders of Friday night pizzas and giggles ‘til dawn.

“Life is a highway…”

.With you staying late in the English Office we put the finishing touches on the newspaper. Fourth and Goal. Snow. Faculty-Student basketball game. Wasn’t there pizza involved, too?

“Uncle Remmie’s Cards for Alternate Occasions”

With you we went through the blood harvest with Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. Remember when we were laughing so loud? The nurses kept saying they’d never seen anyone like us. Imagine: two 25-year olds playing hard-core games of colors and numbers. And of course… the laughter

The blue Umbro shorts with the white trim…ohh… shrubbery!

With you I got a chance to say goodbye. (Thank you for thinking of me, Chris.) I love you, Casey. And I heard you whisper, I love you, too.

Heather and Casey grew up together in Holyoke.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Cheering Their Victories

From July 28, 2000 Hampshire Life Magazine

Recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, longtime sports fan Casey Kane takes a new look at superstars – and cancer survivors – Lance Armstrong and Andres Galarraga.

By Casey Kane

I grew up a sports fan. Like my friends, I watched baseball and football, basketball and the occasional hockey game. But in my household, we also followed track and field, triathlons and bicycling races, like the Tour de France.

Last year, I watched with awe highlights of the Tour, one of the toughest sporting events a man can endure. And with patriotic pride and dumbfounded amazement, I cheered Lance Armstrong's victory, not only over the field of elite athletes and the grueling course, but over the cancer that had nearly cost him his life.
Armstrong, only the second American to ever win the Tour, was 25 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer which had spread to his brain. He battled back to race again at the elite level. Race and win. Win the biggest challenge his sport offers, with the cheers of millions, myself included, behind him.

This year, I am cheering even harder.

In January, I was diagnosed with cancer. I am 24 years old. I am nowhere close to being an elite athlete - although I swam for eight years with the Holyoke YMCA, and participated in swimming, field hockey and tennis while in high school - but I had a life that was forever changed in one moment.

I have Hodgkin's disease, a lymphoma that commonly attacks younger victims without rhyme or reason. The survival rate is high, but the fear that accompanies every other type of the disease comes along with Hodgkin's as well.

I feel a special connection to Armstrong, because of my cancer. He is an inspiration. So too, is Andres Galarraga, the Atlanta Braves All-Star first baseman who returned to baseball this season after taking last year off to battle the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma he was diagnosed with in the spring.

I now live in the South, and have attended several Braves games this season. Every time Galarraga steps into the batter's box, I am on my feet.

It's not hard to explain why I feel so strongly now about two men whose lives I paid minimal attention to until recently. It's because I have been where they have been. They have had to tell loved ones about their diseases, as I have. They have struggled to say the C-word out loud, as I did when I choked out the words to my parents while I lay in a hospital bed 1,000 miles from them.

They have been through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. They have lost weight, muscle, hair and - perhaps for fleeting moments - hope. I did.

I sat in the quiet still of my hospital room, in between interruptions by nurses who needed to check my temperature and blood pressure and draw blood, and I cried. I questioned what I had done to deserve this fate. I asked why. And for at least a few moments, I lost hope.

But I found it again in these two men and other athletes, like Mario Lemieux, the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey great, and Olympic wrestler Jeff Blatnik, who both had the same disease I am now fighting. I had read the news stories about Lemieux as he was battling cancer simply because tales of tragedy and triumph are so interesting. Blatnik wrote me a letter of encouragement soon after I started my chemotherapy.

I have found hope in other places, too, in people like Dave McGrath, a friend who survived cancer himself and sent me a note to boost my spirits. I have also saved every get-well card I received, and taped them up throughout my apartment. Whenever I feel depressed or in despair, I read the messages people have written me to help me through the tough times. The stories of the athletes who have triumphed over Hodgkin's disease and the irrepressible concern that so many people have shown for me have been great inspirations.

I am in the homestretch of my chemotherapy. I have survived the nausea, the vomiting, the fatigue and the horrible weight loss that comes with cancer. I have survived the nausea and the vomiting and the hopeless feeling of weakness that comes with each round of chemo.

My body feels almost normal again, since I have gained my weight back. My hair, once past my shoulders, is now long enough to merit use of a brush again. And I have survived the shudders of self-consciousness I felt back when I lost my hair (my father, two brothers and boyfriend helped with that by shaving their heads in solidarity when my hair started to fall out).

I will survive whatever my impending radiation treatment throws at me. And I will continue to cheer, for Lance Armstrong, for Andres Galarraga.

For me.

Casey Kane, a former Gazette intern and a native of Holyoke, is a sportswriter at the Anderson Independent-Mail in Anderson, S.C.