Bridget Robeson Costigan became a household name in Manhattan College sporting circles during her days playing for the school’s women’s basketball team in the mid-1980s. Now, she takes pleasure in watching her daughter Alyssa, a sophomore guard, competing for the same program she once did.
Alyssa Costigan was made well aware of her mother’s legend while going on her own recruitment. She chose the Jaspers after starring on the court for St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly, Virginia. Led by Costigan, St. Paul VI advanced all the way to the finals of the Geico National Championship Tournament in Fort Myers, Florida, where they were defeated by Westlake High School in Georgia.
That Manhattan coaching staff led by current head coach Heather Vulin offered Alyssa a scholarship in ninth grade. She announced her commitment to the Jaspers midway through her junior season.
“I was surprised,” Robeson said about her daughter choosing Manhattan over seven other schools who offered.
That decision is the strongest indicator of what Manhattan means to the Costigan family.
It dates back to Robeson’s arrival at Manhattan in 1984 at the start of her freshman year away from her home in Vienna, Virginia. Robeson accepted a scholarship to play basketball for head coach Kathy Solano and study electrical engineering which felt like a full-time job.
“I didn’t have time to do a lot else,” Robeson said.
She led the Jaspers to a win in the 1987 MAAC championship, the program’s first title, and was named the tournament’s most valuable player after racking up 72 points during the playoff run. Robeson and teammate Stacy Jack combined to score 43 points in a 70-64 win over Holy Cross in the title game.
The Jaspers went on to play Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament where their season came to an end.
“We weren’t the favorites to win,” Robeson said of the MAAC title run.
Robeson was the fifth women’s player in school history to score one-thousand career points, and is enshrined in the Manhattan College Athletic Hall of Fame. Three years ago, she received the same distinction from George C. Marshall High School, her alma mater in Falls Church, Virginia.
Robeson, who stands at 5-foot-10 and a half, didn’t start playing basketball until her junior year. She dabbled in other sports too because of her athletic prowess.
“My God-given talent was athletics,” Robeson said.
It’s a 35-year gap in playing careers for the mother and daughter. Alyssa, a 6-foot guard, sat out as a redshirt last year and has four years of eligibility left counting this season.
“Being a Jasper means so much more than just an athlete,” Alyssa told the Riverdale Press. “It’s the entire school community that surrounds us.”
Alyssa, a speedy guard, has a playing style of her own that would distinguish her from Robeson, who was a lethal inside presence in her heyday.
“I got coaching all the time instead of just at practice,” Alyssa says of Robeson’s mentorship that peaked when she coached her AAU teams in middle school. “She knows what she is talking about.”
Robeson is quick to tout Alyssa’s ability to take her game to another level in big moments, for the benefit of the team.
“When you get in a tight game, she is one that will step up,” Robeson said. “She digs her heels in and says she won’t lose.”
That mentality comes from all the Jasper greats who have preceded her, especially Robeson. The growth of the Manhattan College women’s basketball program since Robeson’s era, and the one before that, has taken a collective effort passed from one generation to the next.
Robeson, at least, experienced the better days after the program substituted a closet for a locker room. But there is no comparing the investment in women’s sports back then to the burgeoning landscape of today.
The passage of Title IX in 1972 continues to inspire every new generation of women’s athletes, and has staying power that looms large in the consciousness of the Costigan family.
“Because of Title IX, my mom was able to get a scholarship and be college educated and I am able to do the same,” said Alyssa, whose sister, Lyndsey, is a freshman on the women’s basketball team at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. “So many women before us were not granted these same rights and I am thankful for them every day.”