Speaking at her Middlebury College Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony last fall, Amy DiAdamo Foster invoked a phrase her former lacrosse coach had used to motivate players, and then explained how those inspirational words had helped her approach all of life’s challenges.
“ ‘You can do anything for 20 seconds’: work harder, be stronger,” she said in November, several months after being diagnosed with cancer. “Now I use it to get through things like treatments. I use it when something is overwhelming for one of my kids to face, and I look at them and I say, ‘Break it down: You can do anything for 20
As two of her three young sons watched from the audience, Mrs. Foster was honored for setting lacrosse scoring records that still stand, nearly two decades after she graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont. The night’s praise, however, was as much about the achievement of her managing to attend the ceremony.
“With her courage, her strength of will, her self-effacing humor, and her eternal optimism, Amy DiAdamo Foster still serves as a reminder to all of us of how we would like to live our lives every day,” Missy Foote, Middlebury’s former women’s lacrosse coach and associate athletics director, said on Nov. 7, 2015.
Undaunted by the intrusions of treatments, Mrs. Foster skied in remote British Columbia and brought her sons to Italy in the months before she died Sept. 14 in Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She was 41 and lived in South Hamilton.
In spring 2015, when she didn’t feel well, she thought at first that more exercise might help and proceeded to run 100 miles over the next three weeks. No stranger to pushing herself beyond limits, she had led Middlebury’s lacrosse team to its first national championship in 1997, when she was a senior. Then after learning last year that she was ill, she decided to seek one more place in the record books.
“She had this saying between us: She was going to be a statistic,” said her husband, Franklin. “Somebody had to be that 25 percent or 10 percent or 1 percent that beat the cancer.”
Among the many photos of Mrs. Foster that family and friends have posted online, from lacrosse days to the present, is a picture of her with her three smiling sons. Jack, her youngest, is in her arms, while her two oldest, Henry and Samuel, are hugging her.
“It reminded me that Amy was often triple-teamed by opponents,” said Jim Beaton, a former English teacher and dean at Middlesex School in Concord, which Mrs. Foster attended. “Teams had to plan their games around her. That’s a rare thing for any high school athlete, to draw that kind of attention.”
Off the field, however, “Amy just was not someone to magnify herself,” he said. “Everything about her was expressed in good will and hard work and good deeds.”
Foote said in an interview that “despite her amazing athletic accomplishments, Amy was always so humble. There was not any grain in her body that was cocky or full of herself. She was very competitive, but for her, the ideal was to inspire people to do things that she loved doing.”
The youngest of three children, Amy DiAdamo grew up in Andover, where her parents still live. Her father, Carmine DiAdamo, was a trial lawyer. Her mother, the former Barbara Beecher, volunteered at hospitals and museums.
“It sounds like a cliche, but Amy was always Amy: always upbeat, smiling, a natural talent, and she loved to do things,” her father said. “She had a motor that just kept running. Unlike some of us, who find some of life drudgery, Amy did everything with absolute joy. Amy was special, with a capital ‘S.’ ”
By 4, she was already in the backyard with a lacrosse stick in her hands, trying to keep pace with her older brothers. At Pike School in Andover, she received awards for sportsmanship and spirit in athletics, and at Middlesex School she earned 12 varsity letters in lacrosse, soccer, and basketball. A high school All-American in lacrosse her last three years, she graduated in 1993 and was inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame a decade later.
At Middlebury, she played four years of soccer in addition to her record career in lacrosse, for which again she was a three-time All-American. Her total of 347 points — 228 goals and 119 assists — is 25 percent higher than any other player since the women’s lacrosse program began in 1971, according to the Hall of Fame website.
The national championship victory against what was then Trenton State College was particularly gratifying, Foote said in her introductory remarks at the Hall of Fame ceremony. Led by Mrs. Foster’s six goals and one assist, Middlebury ended Trenton’s 102-game winning streak. “Amy DiAdamo,” Foote said, “was simply the best of the best.”
Mrs. Foster met her future husband in high school, where she was a year ahead of him, and they attended Middlebury together, too, but didn’t date until a few years after graduating. In 2001, they quit their jobs to travel and were in Greece when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. Sitting in an Athens cafe, they set aside plans to travel through Turkey, Syria, and the Middle East and opted for several months in Africa instead.
She passed their love of traveling to their sons, too, taking them abroad in the months before she died. Mrs. Foster always “savored the moment,” said her husband, Franklin, whom she married in 2003.
“She was always the instigator of activities, whether it was jumping off bridges in the summertime or hosting dinners,” he added. “She loved to be the positive person among friends.”
The family will hold a private service for Mrs. Foster, who in addition her husband, three sons, and parents leaves her brothers, William DiAdamo of North Andover and Robert DiAdamo of Brookline.
Though Mrs. Foster worked for several years writing at a golf and travel magazine, doing Internet website consulting, as a liaison between faculty and students at Harvard Medical School, and as alumni director at the Park School in Brookline, “there’s no question to me that Amy truly found herself as a mom,” said Maggie Liljegren of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., a friend since they were Middlebury roommates. “She was smart, she was funny, she was amazing, but I think she found her true joy with the boys she and Franklin had. Seeing her as a mother is where I think she was the most hall of fame, if you will.”
Liljegren added that for those who knew Mrs. Foster, “you can’t help but take a step back and think how incredibly lucky you were, no matter what avenue of her life you were in. She just made your life better. All of us, as sad as we are, can’t help but think that: It was better. It wasn’t better for long enough, but definitely it was better.”Bryan Marquard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.