Meet Mary Frances Brosious and BJ Orsi: two Phila-area field hockey super fans! Mary Frances and BJ don’t just attend their daughters’ games and cheer for their team from the sidelines. They attend countless other games, watch college games online, and post congratulatory tweets to celebrate opponents’ successes. They are @PhilaFH biggest fans on social media, retweeting and reposting numerous stories daily, sharing the news of other teams’ successes. They’ve become “field correspondents” for Philafieldhockey.com, often providing updates on local high school games or passing along insights on a local player’s outstanding game – and it’s not their daughters they’re raving about.
Mary Frances Brosoius has seen a lot of hockey over the years. She and her husband Chuck laugh that one year, they had 89 school games between their four daughters. Mary Frances played at Haverford High School and a year at West Chester and then she and Chuck raised four hockey players, three of whom played in college and their youngest, Carly – now a junior at Bonner & Prendie, who hopes to follow in her sisters’ footsteps.
All four of their daughters – Melissa, Rachael, Rebecca and Carly — picked up the game at St. Bernie’s CYO and went on to play at three area Catholic schools, three clubs, and three colleges. The oldest, Melissa was a stand-out defender at Lebanon Valley College and captain her senior year. Melissa came next, whose one-year career at St. Joseph’s came to a close due to a chronic injury. Rebecca just wrapped up her senior year as the goalkeeper at Alvernia – a team that catapulted to the Top 20 in D3 this season and where she earned MAC Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors among others. And then there’s Carly who must have attended more hockey games as a youth in tow, than most people see in a lifetime.
Catch Mary Frances at a game — she’ll be the one with a big smile, with Chuck by her side, cheering for her daughters, their teammates, and even opponents. She’ll go out of her way to congratulate a player – even if it means walking across the field or finding them in the parking lot; I’ve seen her in action! Mary Frances sets the finest example of a good sportsman. She’s all about doing your personal best, playing for the love of the game, and being respectful of everyone you encounter.
Why do you support so many teams in addition to your daughters’ teams? “My kids spent a lot of time in club hockey playing with these other players and it’s nice to see all the great things they are doing and to support them. When you spend a majority of your time on the sideline all year long with the parents, it’s a great way to build lasting friendships and to still run into each other years on. My husband Chuck also heads down to Drexel and over the St. Joe’s. I will watch the games online. It’s great for us to see other games; it’s not as stressful and it’s fun.”
I hope if my kids have learned anything it is RESPECT. Respect your coach, your teammates, the refs, and the other team.”
How do you support your daughters in the sport? “I try to support them in every way I can. Not every day is their best, whether at practice or in games or even balancing school, so I just listen and of course give my best advice like ‘keep your head up’ and my kids’ favorite, ‘be the best you can be’, and ‘people don’t see the first action they only see the reaction’.”
What do you see as the role of a parent of an athlete? “I’ve always told my kids that like life, you get out of hockey what you put into it. You get where you’re going on your own merit. If your work hard hopefully someone will notice and help you to get to the next level, but it has to start with you.”
What are your thoughts on your daughters’ teams achievements and other Phila-area teams this fall? “Rebecca’s (Alvernia) team went 20-3 this year; it truly was a great year. In her last game, they lost with no time on the clock with a penalty stroke. I knew Becca would be sad but she later told me ‘I achieved things this year I never could have imagined, with people I love and with the support of my family.’ Made me feel good. Carly’s team (Prendie) made it to the second round of States for the first time in the history of the school. This year was a great year for schools around here; you have the usual powerhouses but with a lot of upsets and comebacks. You have teams like Penncrest, that were strong when I was in school, going to Districts for the first time in 20 years, which is why I love hockey! Every game is different.”
What do you hope your children have gained in playing hockey at the high school and college level? “I hope if my kids have learned anything it is RESPECT. Respect your coach, your teammates, the refs, and the other team. Respect can carry you a long way. Everything is not always going to go as planned and some days you win, some you lose.”
After a flutter of messages from an upbeat field hockey dad keeping me posted on area hockey in my first year running Philafieldhockey.com, I finally had the pleasure of meeting BJ Orsi at a ChesMont game in 2014. He and his family were all at the game despite not having a player on the field. This is nothing out of the ordinary for BJ. They regularly drive distances to watch and support many other school and club games, as well as area college games and the USA Field Hockey squad at the Nook.
“We just love to watch a good competitive game. We have watched all the Louisville games this year on line, as well as many others, and did not miss a single game in the ACC or Big Ten playoffs, the NCAA playoffs and championship.”
BJ’s passion for the game came the same way that most dads fall for the game: through his daughters. Taylor, a junior at Downingtown West and University of Louisville commit, and Madison, a 7th grader who plays both field hockey and soccer, are the driving force behind BJ’s interest. “There is nothing better than watching your daughters living their dream. They are so fun to watch. I get butterflies before every game. Through all their showcases and different teams, I know so many girls and parents from different areas. We have become such good friends with so many families and loved watching so many girls from different clubs and schools thrive in the sport through the years. With my daughters at two clubs — Taylor playing for X-Calibur and Madison playing for WC Eagles — we pretty much know someone on every high school team in the entire area as well as from New Jersey and Maryland. Some of our best friends have girls that play at Easton High school, Twin Valley, Conestoga, and even as far as Boston. We all cheer for each other’s kids as if they were our own. It’s really a close-knit community. And now we get to watch previous teammates playing at their chosen universities from Maryland, Duke, Syracuse and Louisville. Even watching friend, Katie Bam at the Olympics (who Taylor took lessons with) is so exciting! We need to keep growing the game and keep supporting each other.”
We all cheer for each other’s kids as if they were our own.”How do you support your daughters’ athletic pursuits? “I will always support our kids and their choices in athletics. I personally think being a student athlete is important; it helps you learn discipline and drive, and makes you mentally tough, and it keeps kids out of trouble. It’s not easy making that 45-60 min drive to the clubs many times a week or eating dinner in the car on the way to practice. They have to give up some of their personal time for the sport, but that is their choice to make. We will never tell them or force them to play a certain sport. I believe that you have to LOVE the sport and love what you do. I want them to make their own choices for themselves. I told them both, the day you stop loving it or I have to force you to go to practice then you should stop playing. The crazy thing is as often as they have practice for school and club, they usually come home and go outside and practice or shoot around; we have a goal and turf in our back yard.”
Share your thoughts on Phila-area hockey this fall: “This fall has been a great season for field hockey. Our high school this year made it to the furthest they have ever in States. Losing to Emmaus in overtime on a controversial call and on a stroke was tough but we have a young but very strong team. We are only losing 3 seniors so next year will definitely be a year to watch. I can see them going all the way next year. And the college level this year! – OMG, so, so fun to watch. It was “any given Sunday” every week! Lots of upsets and lots of underdog teams that were hungry for the win.”
What do you hope your children gain from playing sports? “I am so proud of my girls. They have really understood the commitment and give 110% every time they step on that field. Growing up as athletes we know not everyone gets a trophy. We want them to understand the highs and lows of being a team player and finding a way to work through that. They have learned how to be compassionate and have forgiveness through the years through sports. Madison is still young and she has such a bright future ahead of her with the sport and Taylor has accomplished so much already. I am so proud of them and what they have achieved and I’m looking forward to what the future has to bring, but not without a little sweat, muscle, and tears.”
Thanks for your incredible support of our Phila-area teams and players, Mary Frances and BJ. Keep it comin’!
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