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Friend Recalls Young Track Coach

Lying in a hospital bed, in pain, uncomfortable and holding the hand of her best friend, Emily Berkner, Jaclyn Bisceglie , turned to humor. That was her friend being herself, not even letting death get her down, said Berkner.

"[She was] laughing about how all she wanted to do was get out of there and eat Italian food with homemade Italian sauce and meatballs and spaghetti and ziti and joking around about it," Berkner recalled Bisceglie saying the last time they were together.

The 19-year-old Norwalk woman, who grew up in Redding, died Sept. 29 in Yale New Haven Hospital.

The two became good friends in kindergarten. Berkner's mother was Bisceglie’s teacher and  Bisceglie would leave her class to eat lunch with them  every day. The girls' relationship blossomed from there and they remained close and stayed in constant contact.

"We just clicked right from the beginning," Berkner said, "There never was a moment when we weren't close."

Berkner, who now lives in New Hampshire, said Bisceglie treated her friends like family and would do anything for them. Berkner said she one drove to Connecticut to visit but Bisceglie's schedule did not allow the two to meet, so she offered to fill Berkner's gas tank in hopes she could stay an extra day.

Bisceglie went out of her way to cheer people up if they looked down, Berkner said, even if she was not friends with them. She was also very forgiving and never held grudges, Berkner said.

"This girl didn't discriminate against anybody. It didn't matter what you did in your past, it was what you did in that moment that she loved."

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