Emily’s winning story about Catie Greene
Nine-year-old George Greene picked up his tiny sister and hung her by her Lamb Chop underwear from his parents’ canopy bed. There, 6-year-old Catie dangled helplessly for several minutes. Finally, with a climactic ripping noise (krrrrrrrrrrr), Lamb Chop failed her and Catie hit the floor.
Catie, now 23, laughed as she told the story,”My parents came home to find my underwear in shreds on the floor.”
Catie idolized her brother and braved his torturous schemes. He played soccer, inspiring Catie to pick up the ball at only five years old.
And despite the underwear episode, George and Catie played nice sometimes. They played basketball in the driveway and Cathy Greene, their mother, couldn’t resist listening through the living room window.
“The score would be like 60 to 4 and he’d go, ‘I have 60! You have four!’ and she’d go, ‘Yeah I do! Okay! Give me the ball!'” Cathy said in her Long Island lilt. “She was always competing.”
Catie carried her competitive spirit into middle school, playing soccer and basketball. But the spring season stumped her.
“I signed up for softball and lacrosse and went to lacrosse, instead,” she said. “I just didn’t want to not play a sport that season of seventh grade.”
Despite hating lacrosse, Catie played goalie instead of quitting.
The end of that seemingly useless lacrosse season kick-started the rest of Catie’s athletic career. Especially when her coach made the goalies leave the net during the last game.
“The high school coach happened to be watching and I had no stick skills. I sucked,” Catie laughingly admitted. “But he saw how I ran and hustled and he brought me up to JV in eighth grade.
“And I sucked, but he just wanted to see effort and he pulled people up because of that,” she said.
At East Islip High School, Catie discovered she really did have talent in lacrosse. So she practiced, practiced, practiced.
St. Joseph’s College, close to home in Suffolk County, offered Catie a full academic and athletic scholarship to play soccer on its Division III team, but she turned the offer down. “I wanted to play either lacrosse and soccer or just lacrosse,” she said.
While searching for schools, Catie looked for good psychology programs and the camaraderie of the sports teams.
Her skills in lacrosse, the sport she originally hated, earned her an athletic scholarship to St. Bonaventure University’s Division I team.
“I really didn’t want to be this far away in the cold,” Catie said, “But we came up and the girls were just so funny and so kind and it was nice.”
At Bonaventure, Catie’s freshman year didn’t pan out as she had imagined. The coach who recruited her quit the summer before her first semester.
“There wasn’t fall ball really because nobody was getting the team together,” her mother said. “And she was used to having a focus she played three sports in high school.”
But Catie didn’t just sit tight; the busybody played club soccer and wrote for the school newspaper.
“I did a ton of different things because they always say ‘get involved!’ and I didn’t want to just sulk about it,” she said.
Catie concluded her first semester with a perfect grade-point average 4.0.
“In high school I really didn’t care I was the class clown,” Catie said. “I was so nervous about doing well in college that I forced myself to try really, really hard.”
“She did call home a lot,” her mother said. “Once the team was together it was much better.”
After a full spring season of lacrosse in which she played in all 14 games, started in five and scored two goals, Catie again had a 4.0.
Over the next three seasons 48 games and five goals later Catie had started in every game following her freshman season.
“Catie was a funny, upbeat force with her teammates,” said Christy Malone, former head coach of women’s lacrosse at Bonaventure. “She knew when to pump up the players to work hard or when to crack a joke.”
“I was the clown on every team,” Catie said. “But I was able to receive criticism because I could take it.”
At 27, George continues to inspire Catie. The 2010 winner of Mr. Natural Philadelphia coached Catie through workout packets he put together for his University of Massachusetts teams as their strength and conditioning assistant director.
And her undergraduate GPA never wavered from 4.0.
Before her freshman year, Catie said her mom jokingly told her, “Remember Cate, ‘D’ for ‘Diploma.'”
She smirked at the memory. “My parents were hoping for me to get a ‘C’ or a ‘B,'” she said. “I got no pressure from them.”
Catie’s secret to balancing schoolwork, sports and a social life? Impeccable time management skills.
“I didn’t care how many bags I was carrying, I didn’t care if I carried a lacrosse stick all day, I was not going to go back to my room,” Catie said firmly. “I was not going to take a nap. I was going to stay on campus, get a cup of coffee, eat lunch while doing work and it was continuous.”
As a graduate student, Catie used her fifth year of NCAA eligibility to run on Bonaventure’s Division I cross-country team.
“I just didn’t want sports to stop,” Catie said.
“She likes to take on challenges,” said head cross-country coach Bob Macfarlane. “That’s one of the qualities I liked about her.”
Despite never running competitively before, Catie kept up with her much-younger teammates.
She carried her perfect GPA into grad school and, though her eligibility expired for cross-country’s 2012 season, Macfarlane kept Catie on as an assistant women’s coach.
In the fall, the woman who once, as a 6-year-old, wore Lamb Chop underwear will attend the College of William & Mary for its doctoral program in counseling education.
“I am certainly not the best player, but I am definitely a hard worker,” Catie Greene said. “That is my claim to fame.”