(Story first published by The Springfield Student)
Walking up to the mezzanine level of the Fieldhouse, you’re greeted by the satisfaction of an upscale athletic facility. Last Saturday, you were able to see circular tables with white cloth on top staggering each other, and posters featuring My Little Pony taped on the walls.
Finally, looking past the tables and the poster, a “Happy Birthday” sign hung from the window overlooking Amos Alonzo Stagg Field. This was the sight for Abigail Hamberg, the newest Team IMPACT member drafted by Springfield College Field Hockey.
Turning seven years old on that day, Abigail has overcome more in one life than many would care to think about. However, she does not let this affect her positive outlook.
“I think Abigail has a spirit to her that is contagious,” Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper said. “Just seeing her running around today at her birthday party; she resonates for us.”
Abigail, who is now cancer free, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The cancer is one of the blood and bone marrow where too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells, are created immaturely.
Before beginning her journey with Team IMPACT, Hamberg attended The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp.
“It’s a camp for chronically ill kids,” Abigail’s mother, Tasha Hamberg said. The camp provides an escape for the kids, so they can live without worry of their illness for that time being.
Shortly after her experience with The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, the Hamberg family discovered Team IMPACT and in honor of Cancer Awareness Month, the field hockey team celebrated Abigail’s introduction to the team in their competition against Babson College.
As Abigail entered through the black spoked gates of Stagg Field, hand in her mother’s, her eyes awoke at the sight of the team that has recently taken her in. Along with her family, she approached the bleachers and shyly, stuck her fingers through the holes in the fence surrounding the field. After a short amount of time, she reached to open the gate to be greeted by coach Melissa Sharpe, who was sporting a gold t-shirt.
On the front of the shirt was the institution’s athletics logo and read “Springfield College Field Hockey” just under. On the back was a heart shaded in black. The left side of the heart read “Team Abigail”, on the right: a cancer awareness ribbon, and below those two features, “#GoGold”.
“I said to [my players] when we started with Team IMPACT, be prepared. She’s probably going to teach us a lot more about life and perseverance than we could ever teach her,” Sharpe stated.
In honor of Abigail’s survival of leukemia, Tasha has acquired a tattoo on her back. The tattoo is of an orange ribbon which represents leukemia. The ribbon is surrounded by Abigail’s favorite animals – butterflies and ladybugs.
Although her hardships have taken a large dose of energy from her life already, Abigail seems to keep her fight with cancer away from the forefront of her mind. Instead, she thinks of the fond memories that she has acquired along her path; most notably her trip through the Make-a-Wish foundation.
“Whenever she gets down or upset she always talks about going back [to her Make-a-Wish trip] and meeting her unicorn [named Cloud],” Tasha added. “She always goes back to that one moment. Being in the cancer world to her, was getting to meet that unicorn.”
Just over a month ago, Abigail became Springfield College’s 10th Team IMPACT member after being drafted by the Field Hockey program. Since then, she has participated in s’mores making and apple picking with the team.
When Abigail gets to spend time with this team that has made her apart of the Springfield College family, it keeps her positivity flowing.
“She forgets about everything around her,” Tasha added. “It’s like she’s just a normal kid hanging out.”