Remembering the legacy of Eduard Nogay

Whatever obstacle life threw in his way, Eduard Nogay spiked it right back as if it were just another volleyball flying over a net.

But after over a year of battling a cancerous sarcoma that spread from his right elbow to throughout his arm nerves, requiring the amputation of most of his right arm and then causing his lungs to collapse twice, Nogay died shortly after midnight on Tuesday, June 4 – just moments after his 18th birthday ended.

However, in some ways, he is not gone. Nogay leaves behind an impressive legacy that will continue to inspire his family, friends, classmates, and even strangers.

After all, the star middle hitter on the Fort Hamilton High School (FHHS) boys’ volleyball team was not only a consummate athlete and leader – helping the Tigers reach the PSAL playoffs semifinals this year and mentoring freshmen members of the team even while undergoing surgeries and treatment – but also a friendly and selfless friend and person, always putting others ahead of himself.

“He was the definition of being a leader and doing the right thing,” said his coach, Kim Tolve, who was one of a small group of family, best friends, and coaches who were with Nogay when he passed away at Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center. “Even last night when he knew the end was [coming], he was more concerned about everybody else and how everybody else was doing.”

Eddie Nogay, #3, with the Fort Hamilton High School boys' volleyball team.

When Tolve met Nogay, her “first impression was that he was a little immature [because of his age] and needed to work hard and be a little more focused,” she chuckled. “I challenged him to do that his sophomore year and I don’t think I’ve ever had an athlete rise to the challenge as quickly and strongly as he did.”

“Eddie was absolutely a mentor. This year, there were a lot of freshmen and he was team captain. He took it upon himself to take the other guys under his wing and show them not only how to play volleyball but also how to [be strong off the court],” she added.

His natural penchant for leadership was a big reason why Tolve nominated him to be one of “Frankie’s Heroes” – young role models who have helped to make the Brooklyn community a better place. “Frankie’s Heroes” is an annual honor and recognition given by the Francesco Loccisano Foundation, which fights against pediatric cancer, and which was founded by his mother, Camille Loccisano, in memory of her son who died five years ago after battling osteosarcoma and leukemia.

Loccisano remembers meeting Nogay at the ceremony in February of this year and being struck by how “he was such an intelligent and mature young man.”

“When we met him, it was just a pleasure to know him. He really stood out as a hero because he was inspiring everyone around him and was not letting anything get him down and he was determined to make the best of the situation, that there was a chance for hope,” she added.

In the wake of Nogay’s death, all of the families of other Frankie’s Heroes honorees have reached out and are “together in their grief,” said Loccisano. “Every time something like this happens, it makes me more aggressive to bring awareness, let people know what a crisis childhood cancer is.”

Moving forward, Tolve says that she hopes that people who know Nogay or hear his story see that “what he stood for was just getting people to appreciate that life is short, to live their life to the fullest, and to understand that despite what may seem insurpassable obstacles, that you should just stay positive and keep on trying to find a way through everything.”

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