Two Terriers, One Goal
Women soccer stars, best friends, both pro prospects
Mara Osher was at the mall January 15 babysitting her niece and nephew when her cell phone was flooded with texts and calls. The Metropolitan College graduate student had been picked by the Washington Freedom in the sixth round of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) draft. The cell phone deluge was alerting her to the news.
“I was just overwhelmed,” says 22-year-old Osher (MET’10). “I was anxious, I was excited, I was everything.”
She was also hopeful — that her BU teammate, roommate, and best friend Casey Brown (CGS’08, COM’10) would be drafted too.
Brown, 21, was at the draft in Philadelphia with Nancy Feldman, BU head soccer coach, and Jessica Clinton (SHA’04), an assistant coach. When the Boston Breakers chose her in the seventh round, her phone was dead, but her 19-year-old brother, in the car with the rest of the Brown family, was tracking the draft live on Twitter.
“They were just driving along and all the sudden they got the update on their phone,” Brown says. “My dad said he almost crashed the car. They were thrilled. My mom was calling everyone and their brother.”
Osher and Brown have made the BU sports history books as the first two women’s soccer players drafted in the same year. For the Terrier stars, the chance to play professional soccer, the sport they’ve loved since age five, was the fulfillment of a lifelong goal.
“This is the culmination of everything,” Brown says. “To be part of a women’s professional league is really, really something.”
It also makes up for a life of sacrifices.
“Your whole life is really based on someone else’s schedule,” Osher says. “Family functions, weddings, parties in high school, parties in college — you just don’t go, and that’s fine because you’d rather do this anyway.”
With the thrill of the draft over, the reality of the upcoming battle has set in. Preseason camps start March 1, and the roster is not set and contracts signed until it’s over, sometime in mid-March. There are 22 spots on a team, and usually 28 to 30 players invited to preseason camp. “You have to fight every single day to make it to the list of 22,” Osher says.
Brown credits Feldman and the BU coaching staff with the experience and training to enable her to attain the next level.
“The caliber of coaching at BU has been above and beyond and has put each individual in the best position possible to succeed and move forward,” she says.
For her part, Feldman believes that Osher and Brown can reach the WPS. “At the next level, it’s not just about playing ability, it’s about understanding the game,” she says. “Mara and Casey want information, they process information, and they use information. They don’t only play the game — they think the game.”
Regardless of what happens on the field next month and beyond, both players are glad to know they can count on each other for support.
“Even if our experiences are complete 180s in terms of playing time or traveling,” says Osher, “you have someone who absolutely knows what you’re going through.”
“It’s definitely going to help to have my best friend going through the same thing,” Brown adds.
If they make the cut, each will play for the team she cheered for as a soccer-crazed youngster. Osher grew up competing on the turf the Freedom call home, 15 miles from her hometown of Rockville, Md. And the Breakers play at Harvard Stadium, less than 25 miles from Brown’s native Natick. “It’s the perfect situation,” Brown says. “It’s really important for me that my friends and family can be a part of this experience.”
While they will try to make a name for themselves on the soccer field, both Terriers have goals beyond the WPS that motivate them to finish their degrees. Brown has thoughts of getting her master’s in coaching or sports psychology counseling, crediting Feldman with opening her eyes to coaching. Only a semester away from a B.A. in advertising, she is taking classes at night to accommodate the Breakers’ schedule. Once the season kicks off, she’ll shuttle back and forth from the stadium to school, planning a few pit stops at her old stomping grounds.
“Being so close, I’ll definitely be at BU games, maybe even some practices if I get lucky,” says Brown (above, with Breakers general manager Andy Crossley and head coach Tony DiCicco).
Osher, who red-shirted her sophomore year because of an ankle injury, is planning to finish a master’s degree in criminal justice online. A career after playing professional soccer is important to her; she has aspirations to work for the government or in public policy.
For now, Osher and Brown are hoping to see each other on April 10, when the Freedom host the Breakers for the first game of the 2010 WPS season.
Brown is already planning where she’ll stay. “I’ll be sleeping at the Oshers’ house, I think,” she says. “I’ll try to hit that up.”
Women’s Professional Soccer is North America’s highest level women’s professional soccer league. The league began play in spring 2009, six years after the Women’s United Soccer Association folded. Entering its second season, the WPS has added two teams, bringing the competing field to nine. The Freedom (8-7) finished third and the Breakers (7-9) fifth of seven teams last season. The season runs from April until August.
Caroline Hailey can be reached at email@example.com Comments