LOWELL, Mass. – The entire River Hawk family is mourning the loss of Steve Botto ’98, who passed away at the age of 45 on July 19 following a courageous battle with cancer. Botto was a standout on the UMass Lowell baseball team, an avid supporter of River Hawk athletics, and will be greatly missed.
“River Hawk Nation is devastated by the recent loss of Steve Botto,” said UMass Lowell Director of Athletics Peter Casey. “He was truly a special person. He was a leader and captain during his time at UMass Lowell and became a teacher, coach, role model, and dear friend throughout the entire Greater Lowell community. He was the epitome of a River Hawk alum and had so much pride in his alma mater, but we were even more proud to be able to call him one of ours. He will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Steve’s whole family, especially his children and his wife, during this difficult time.”
A native of Lowell, Botto chose to stay close to home and represent his community at the collegiate level. The second baseman was elected a two-time team captain, a feat that his then coach, UMass Lowell Hall of Fame inductee Jim Stone, said was no easy accomplishment and shows how he touched the lives of all those around him.
“He was an outstanding young man from a wonderful family, and a two-time captain, which is unusual,” Stone commented. “He got bitten by the coaching bug and to this day, he would send me pictures of his son’s team and tell me how he was doing. Stevie was a quiet leader, very competitive, and a battler, and I think that’s what made him live so long because he wasn’t going to get beat by cancer. When my wife was also diagnosed with cancer, he would take the time to sit and talk with her about what they were both going through. He was so caring and I’m hearing from hundreds of his friends, who also all thought the most of Stevie. He was just a super kid, and I can’t say enough about him and the way he battled for all those years.”
He instilled the River Hawk spirit in his entire family and helped pave the way for his younger sister Kristine (Botto) Drust to join him at the university, where she became a two-time All-American for the softball program.
Botto would go onto become a physical education teacher and coach at Greater Lowell Vocational High School, and a coach at Lowell High School. He constantly gave back and made an impact on his community, and was very active in the Shedd Park Little League, where he coached his son.
However, his dedication to UMass Lowell did not end when he graduated. When Coach Stone was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame in Dallas, Texas in 2010, Botto was there. When the UMass Lowell squad traveled to Vanderbilt in 2018, Botto was there. And whenever Coach Harring needed help with his annual Hot Stove Dinner, Botto was there. Because that’s the type of guy he was, a loyal River Hawk through and through.
“Steve was an incredible human being,” said UMass Lowell Baseball Head Coach Ken Harring. “He was so supportive of his alma mater. When I needed help with the Boutin Stone Golf Tournament, he came to the forefront and volunteered countless hours each year to make sure that his fellow alums had a day to spend together to tell old UMass Lowell baseball stories. He had a kind soul who people gravitated to. He was an incredible family man and was so proud of his children. My heart breaks for his wife Melissa and his children, Matthew and Abigail.”
Remembered as “a gem” by friends and former classmates, Botto left an incredible legacy not just on UMass Lowell, but on the entire greater Lowell community. He will not be forgotten. Forever #4.
Calling hours will be held at the Fay McCabe Funeral Home in Lowell on Friday, July 24 from 3-7 p.m. To ensure the health and safety of all, social distancing measures will be in place and masks will be required. Due to current restrictions, his funeral mass the following morning will be private, however, all are welcome to attend his committal prayers at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Tewksbury on July 25 at approximately 12:15 PM.
On Saturday, the UMass Lowell baseball community is invited to join a delegation to honor Botto. Past and present players are asked to meet on Park Ave (the street behind upper and lower Shedd) at 11:45 a.m. and line up on both sides of the street to greet the funeral procession on its way to St. Mary’s. Current players are asked to please wear your UMass Lowell baseball hat and uniform, while former players are asked to wear their hat and jersey if possible.
Please use both Shedd Park lots, and the side streets off of Park St. and Knapp Ave. to park. Do not park on Knapp Ave. or on the street behind the parks. The funeral procession will need all the space to pass by.
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