Reusse: Gophers walk-on Connor Cosgrove is carrying on

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 24, 2013 - 7:56 AM

Rather than retreat, Connor Cosgrove opened up — and it made him a conqueror in his cancer battle.

hide

Connor Cosgrove joined his Gophers teammates for the Western Michigan game on Sept. 14, exactly three years after his leukemia disgnosis.

Photo: Minnesota Athletic Communications photo,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Connor Cosgrove found out on Sept. 14, 2010, that he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It is a pediatric form of blood cell cancer that rarely shows up in 19-year-olds.

“You normally find ALL in young kids and there is a very good chance for survival,’’ Cosgrove said. “The older you are when it occurs, the higher the risk for the patient.’’

Cosgrove was extremely high risk. He was undergoing chemotherapy on the same afternoon of the diagnosis.

“They took a biopsy and my bone marrow was 90 percent leukemia,’’ Cosgrove said. “The first 30 days are critical and the treatment is very aggressive. If there’s not a positive response, the end of the host can come as quickly as four weeks.’’

That’s a creative euphemism — “host’’ — for the patient in leukemia treatment. In other words, if the poisons being pumped into the body don’t have an early effect, the person can be dead within a month.

Cosgrove survived. Most of him, anyway.

He had started at 6 feet and 185 pounds, with aspirations to make it as a walk-on receiver with the Gophers. After 30 days of chemotherapy and doses of medication, he was on his way to losing 45 pounds and becoming a rail-thin 140-pounder.

Once the shock of that first month was over, Cosgrove started to contemplate what was happening to him. Three years later, he regrets his early reaction to this mightiest of challenges.

“I was an angry kid,” Cosgrove said. “A lot of people reached out, and I pushed most of them away. I was encouraged to reach out to Zach Sobiech, the young folk singer from Stillwater who was dealing with a pediatric cancer. I wouldn’t even do that.”

Sobiech died in May, at 18, after four years with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer.

Alexis Maciej, Cosgrove’s nurse practitioner at the university’s Amplatz Children’s Hopsital, observed his attitude for a time and then got him the emotional help to turn it around and “thrive with cancer.”

Cosgrove’s transformed attitude made his fight with cancer much more public, particularly in the fall of 2012. That’s when 60 members of the Gophers football team shaved their heads in support of pediatric cancer research.

Cosgrove had grown back his flowing locks by last fall. The head-shaving came about after Cosgrove told a few of his Gophers friends about a scene at Amplatz in September 2012.

“There were twin girls — 3 years, tops — and one had cancer and one did not,’’ Cosgrove said. “The little girl with cancer had lost her hair because of chemo. So her sister who wasn’t sick … she shaved her head so that her twin would not feel bad.

“Those two little girls walking down the hospital corridor holding hands was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.’’

Cosgrove witnessed endless scenes, both cool and sad, in his three years of being in and out of Amplatz while undergoing chemo.

His father, Kevin, had been hired as Tim Brewster’s co-defensive coordinator in 2009. That was the same year Connor enrolled at St. Cloud State. A year later, Cosgrove and offensive lineman Brandon Haney, his St. Cloud roommate, transferred to Minnesota and walked on with the Gophers.

“I was hoping to be one of those walk-on, possession-type receivers that have had some success with the Gophers,’’ Cosgrove said.

  • related content

  • Gophers used to getting passed over in bowl selection process

    Tuesday December 24, 2013

    Less-accomplished rivals landed at more prestigious games yet again.

  • Bush again expected to fill in for Bak at right guard for Gophers

    Tuesday December 24, 2013

    HOUSTON – Gophers offensive lineman Caleb Bak, who missed the last three regular-season games because of a concussion, again will...

  • Connor Cosgrove joined his mother, Shelly, and father, Kevin, after completing his scheduled chemotherapy.

  • Former walk-on Connor Cosgrove didn’t reach out to his teammates when he first became ill, but they later became a source of strength.

  • Volleyball setter Mia Tabberson was one of dozens of Gophers athletes who had their hair shaved to raise money and support Connor Cosgrove.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Kansas City 2
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 65 4th Qtr 10:25
Orlando 74
Brooklyn 44 3rd Qtr 11:30
Boston 61
Washington 58 3rd Qtr 9:16
New York 59
Cleveland 31 2nd Qtr 5:23
Memphis 28
Minnesota 41 2nd Qtr 6:22
Milwaukee 36
Atlanta 7 1st Qtr 5:28
San Antonio 13
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 2 2nd Prd
Pittsburgh 1
Washington 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Anaheim
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close