California Coxswain Jill Costello Passes Away from Lung Cancer

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Jill Costello, a coxswain on the Golden Bear women's crew team, passed away Thursday, ending her year-long battle against stage IV lung cancer. Last month, Costello was named Pac-10 Women's Rowing Athlete of the Year and graduated with a degree in political science after making the Pac-10 All-Academic second team.

A San Francisco, Calif., native, Costello was diagnosed with the illness on June 6, 2009. Despite battling the disease throughout the 2010 season, she continued to train and compete with the Bears. Costello coxed the varsity eight crew for the first time in her career at the Pac-10 Championships, leading the team to a close victory over Stanford and clinching the Pac-10 title for the Bears.

Costello was not only an inspiration for her teammates, but to other athletes at Cal and across the Conference. The Golden Bear men's crew team wore ribbons in honor of Costello as they competed at the IRA Championships earlier this month. At the Big Row against rival Stanford, the Bears competed as "Team Jill," and along with the Cardinal crew team, wore uniforms and used oars adorned in Costello's favorite colors of navy and aquamarine green.

"Jill was a wonderful person in every way, and we were blessed to have had her in our lives," head coach Dave O'Neill said. "Back when Jill was diagnosed, she wrote, 'Life is all about how we handle the challenges we are given.' Jill faced this challenge with absolute courage, grace and dignity, and was an inspiration for so many people, especially our team. As much as everyone tried to lend a hand, Jill was the one inspiring all of us. The core of `Team Jill' is her parents, Mary and Jim, and aunt, Kathy. Our hearts go out to them."

Services for Costello are currently pending at this time. For more information, visit  

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