As a prep volleyball junior last season, Eddie Nogay emerged as one of the premier right-handed middle hitters in New York City's Public Schools Athletic League.
This season, the 17-year-old Fort Hamilton (Brooklyn, N.Y.) High senior is hoping to become one of the best left-handed hitters in the league -- out of necessity.
After doctors discovered a rare cancerous tumor known as a sarcoma around his right elbow, Nogay had his right arm amputated up to the shoulder this past fall. His brave battle back to the volleyball court was detailed in a fantastic New York Post feature.
“I don’t want to say it has all just rolled off him, because he did understand it was serious,” Fort Hamilton boys volleyball coach Kim Tolve told the Post. “But he has been able to rebound. … Even the doctors and the nurses said they’d never seen a 17-year-old deal with this type of heartache and strife without flinching.
“It’s a testament to the kind of kid he is. He’s a fighter.’’
And fight he did. When a lump on his arm that had been previously diagnosed as benign began to hurt during his junior year, when he recorded 120 kills for the Tigers (5-7), Nogay battled through the pain, according to the feature.
The 5-foot-11 Uzbekistan native addressed the elbow following the season. After a few misdiagnoses, a biopsy eventually revealed the cancer. He went under the knife at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center around Halloween, and 10 days later he was logging statistics for the city champion girls volleyball squad, the Post said.
“He’s the strongest guy I’ve ever met,” Nogay's teammate and best friend Dennis Dikarev told the paper. “I’m kind of inspired by him. … He’s still the same kid. I know if it was me I wouldn’t be that strong about it. But he embraces it.’’
In January, Nogay's lung collapsed, requiring two surgeries, and he's been undergoing regular treatment for his ailments ever since, according to the Post. Despite the setback, he took the court this spring and has led his team to a 3-0 record in the early going -- thanks to the support of his mother Natalya Kan, his brother Victor and his coach.
"Throughout the whole situation, my coach has been there," Eddie told the Post. "When my arm was amputated, I'm pretty sure people didn't think I was going to play. But I told coach, 'I'm going to make it happen. I'm not going to sit around and let the disease kill me. I’m going to make a difference.'"