Nate Greenberg Scores — On And Off The Field

In late summer of 2013, life was going well for Nate Greenberg. He was heading into senior year at Union College. He’d scored 50 goals for the lacrosse team, and was now captain.

Suddenly, life changed. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a pediatric bone cancer.

Nate Greenberg, soon after his diagnosis.

Nate Greenberg, soon after his diagnosis.

The former Staples lax captain (and member of the state championship soccer team) endured several rounds of chemo. Surgery removed a tumor from his hip. He had a full hip replacement, and partial reconstruction of his femur.

His many friends rallied in support. The entire Union lacrosse team shaved their heads, in solidarity with their captain.

It was a brutal experience. But the disease is in remission. And this is where the story gets really interesting.

Though no longer able to play, Nate has remained active as the team’s middies coach. The other day, News10 in Albany described the profound influence he has had on the Dutchmen. Reporter Josh Sims called him “one of the most influential voices on the roster. When Greenberg talks, the team listens.”

Recently, for example, Union was losing to Nazareth at halftime of the NCAA tournament opening round .

Senior Connor Hall said Nate’s halftime speech brought tears to his eyes. “You don’t get more hyped than that.”

Nate’s message — “the tougher team is going to win” — sparked the Dutchmen to a 15-12 victory.

A screenshot of News10's interview with Nate Greenberg.

A screenshot of News10’s interview with Nate Greenberg.

Sims continued:

The word “tough” described Greenberg to a “T” after his battle with cancer.

“When he came back for games, he was pale and frail and skinny, and he wasn’t the young man that left us,” Union head coach Paul Wehrum said.

Now much stronger, Nate told Sims: “This is my time to give back to (my team) what they gave to me.”

He has a new outlook on life.

“I’m just way more focused. I know what the other side is. I’ve been close, so every day is a gift,” Nate said.

Now Nate has another gift to give.

Union College LogoA professor encouraged Nate to apply for keynote speaker at graduation. He had stiff competition — including the valedictorian — but he beat out more than 2 dozen classmates.

Learning of his selection, he told Sims, “was like scoring my first goal versus RIT. I’ve never felt anything like that, and coming from the year I’ve had, hitting that accomplishment was like nothing else.”

On June 14, Nate will address a crowd of about 10,000. He’ll tell his story. It’s sure to be inspirational. Connor Hall will probably have tears in his eyes again — along with everyone else.

Ewing’s sarcoma may have slowed Nate Greenberg down. It may have changed his college career, turning him from player to coach.

But there’s a lot more to do. After graduation he heads to Israel, then to Europe with friends. An economics major, he hopes for a career in commercial real estate.

Chances are, he’ll find time to inspire teammates, friends and total strangers for years to come.

(To see the entire TV segment on Nate Greenberg, click here.)


8 responses to “Nate Greenberg Scores — On And Off The Field

  1. Marcia Wright

    Nathan was a student of mine in 11th grade. He had a quick smile and a generous laugh, which helped to make my teaching days fun. I will him well.

  2. Dan–would love it if you would publish his speech once he gives it.

  3. Stacy Prince

    Stories like these just break your heart, then fill them with appreciation. I love how Nate Greenberg’s making the proverbial lemonade here, continuing to contribute to his team — and now his whole school. I look forward to reading his insights if he allows the speech to be printed here.

    At the same time, I’m hoping Mr. Greenberg’s experience (and that of other young athletes who have developed cancer) will lead to more than admiration: We need to make some hard choices to protect our kids from carcinogens.

    Ewing’s is one of the cancers linked to playing on synthetic turf.

    I provide these uncomfortable tidings not because I hate sports (one of my children was a Staples athlete) but because my other kid was one of the 15,700 U.S. kids diagnosed with cancer annually.

    I wish Westport would lead the way in being proactive and precautionary when it comes to our kids’ health, and if that means we honor our student athletes by removing crumb-rubber fields, building more regular old (non-pesticided) fields, or limiting play on fields intended for our star athletes, let’s do it.

  4. Isaac Levi

    Nate, your name in Hebrew (Yehonatan) means “GOD GAVE”. and it is very clear to me that you are the gift that was GAVE to all of us.
    Love You,

  5. Gerry Kuroghlian

    As a student at Staples, Nate exhibited many of the qualities Dan cited in this article. His positive attitude stood out in his freshman year and continued through out his athletic and academic career. As his former English teacher, I am sure his speech will be inspiring and delivered with verve!

  6. Keith Styrcula

    Nate is unique in his strength of character, his giving spirit and his fortitude in triumphantly overcoming Ewing’s sarcoma. It was a life-affirming experience to see Nate beat this affliction and become an inspiration to all who know him. I look forward to hearing his graduation speech, which is certain to be a powerful reminder of what’s important in life.

  7. Nancy Lally

    I have watched you, Nate, grow up with Trevor and the gang…….and I see how much fun you are having in these amazing communities of loving people who truly care about you!
    I remember Trevor calling with the news. We talked for a very long time and said no matter what, we would be with you every step of the way.
    You have fought the most courageous battle ever and you’re winning! And what we all love about Nate Greenberg is that everything that happens in your life has p)a funny side to it….actually very funny………..your humor and ‘let’s get on with life’ attitude taught us so much about life.
    Ewings hasn’t stopped you Nate…..instead it has taught US all a lesson about courage, bravery, strength, determination and most importantly, love.
    Tell your story……amaze the audience and remember that life amongst family and friends and your support group at Sloan-Kettering is so much more important than anything. Your teammates and professors, college staff members and friends at Union are blessed to have you as a member of the class and a keynote speaker at graduation. We are all so proud of you for the person you are becoming and the courageous battle you have endured.
    The Lallys love you to pieces……cheers to more
    great times going forward!
    Come home soon so we can get our hugs from Nate.
    CONGRATULATIONS….you did it!!