Sydne Ilyse Jacoby, an Oceanside High School graduate who was a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, died on Nov. 19. She was 19.
On Nov. 16, Jacoby was feeling ill and fell, hitting her head on concrete. She was admitted to Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., where she slipped into a coma. She went into cardiac arrest three days later, and died.
She was born on June 7, 1993, to Nadine and Dean Jacoby. A year earlier, a doctor had told the couple that they would never have children. “Sydne was my in-vitro miracle,” Nadine recalled. Their second child, Joshua, was born 16 months later. “They’re both very special,” said Nadine.
Sydne and her brother were competitive when they were young, constantly trying to best each other. But it was something they grew out of, their mother said. “Thank God that after them being so competitive in life,” Nadine said, “they grew up to be best of friends.”
She said that her daughter was always happy and kind, never bothering people with her own problems and always being there for others. “Because of Sydne, I became a kinder, stronger person,” Nadine said.
In high school, Sydne played softball and tennis. “The team was a family, and Sydne was a huge asset to creating that special bond,” said Angela Giuliani, her friend and the captain of the softball team. “Before every game, I would give the girls a motivational speech to prepare them and make them excited to win. Sydne would always giggle and smile when she heard my speeches. Her contagious laugh would … [leave] every player happy.”
An honors student, Jacoby graduated from OHS in 2011. She was a sophomore at UMass Amherst, majoring in psychology.
On Nov. 19, her friends held a candlelight vigil at the Schoolhouse Green in Oceanside to pray for her recovery. A few hours before the vigil was supposed to start, she died.
“She was everything that everybody else needed her to be,” said her mother. “She was an angel.”
The OHS varsity softball team is working to raise funds in Jacoby’s memory. They are selling memory bracelets in her name, with the hope of erecting a plaque on the field in her honor.
“The team and I all agreed that it is essential to have Sydne always be a part of Oceanside softball,” Giuliani said. “By placing a plaque on the field, her presence will always be there to cheer on each girl as they get up to the batter’s box or as they make a catch. Her loud cheers and smile will always have a special place in all our hearts.”
Nadine said that the outpouring of support from the community has been extraordinary. More than 500 people attended her daughter’s funeral on Nov. 21. Teachers from nursery school through high school paid their respects to Nadine. “There was a girl who showed up there who was on a softball travel team with Sydne 10 years ago,” she said.
The Jacobys’ Oceanside home was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Nadine said that the family is definitely going to rebuild, especially after the support they’ve received from the community.
“There was a community that my husband and my son and I are so proud to be
living in at this moment,” she said. “Hurricane or not, I have to rebuild, I have to fix, just to stay here a little while, just to give back everything they gave us. Because this community is truly unbelievable.”
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Bay State Medical Trauma Center in Springfield, Mass.
“The Jacobys will live their lives,” Nadine said. “My husband and my son and I will live the rest of our lives, hoping and praying that everything that we do will make her proud.”