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.
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.
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.
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.)