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About Brady’s Bunch
Boston Red Sox’s Jonny Gomes gets close to Brady Wein
Meet Four-year old Brady Wein
Imagine being a parent who was just informed by doctors that your three-month old son was suffering from a form of cancer known as Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML).Then, imagine just a few months prior to that child’s second birthday being told that he will not be alive long enough to blow out those candles atop the cake.
It’s unspeakable, unfathomable, and something a person simply cannot truly understand without gone through a similar horror on their own.
But there can be bright sides.
That toddler can somehow gather the strength of a thousand lions and beat back every prediction, every episode, and do it all with an unknowing smile on his little face.
Brady Wein is, in short, a miracle. Brady is the little boy that wasn’t supposed to see his second birthday. But he did, and he has seen two more with hopefully many more on the horizon.
Now four years of age, little Brady looks just like any other kid out on a lacrosse field. Actually, he may look a little better than some of them, having developed an ability to shoot with both hands and sting corners with the best of them. Watch Brady on the field and you’d never know the battle he and his family wage daily for his very life.
Brady’s Bunch Lacrosse
Mike Wein is a 1991 graduate of Framingham South High School who relocated to Mesa, Arizona in 1999 with his family. Along with former Norwood High School lacrosse coach Tom DeMaio, he runs a club program called Brady’s Bunch. The Bunch is based in Arizona but draws players from 18 states, as well as Canada.This weekend, Wein and DeMaio are bringing The Bunch back to their home for the first time for a series of exhibition games with the Laxachusetts club, which will be held Saturday afternoon at Thayer Academy in Braintree from noon-4 p.m. Then on Sunday, the Bunch will participate in the Crimson Lax Fall High School Classic at Harvard University.
According to both Wein and DeMaio, the philosophy of Brady’s Bunch is not to take players from their existing club programs but to give kids the opportunity to experience what Brady’s Bunch is all about. And that is gathering together, telling stories and maybe talking about lacrosse or what’s going on in their lives. Lacrosse is simply the vehicle that brings a group of like-minded kids together to share.
The Bunch also brings with it a simple message – lacrosse is just a game, it’s life that’s hard. Their motto is: B…Strong & Believe.
“Lacrosse is just an excuse for Tom and I to get together and meet all these kids from 18 different states and Canada but what Brady’s Bunch is all about takes place in hotel lobbies between 8-11 p.m.,” Wein explained. “That’s what we’re about. We’re about talking about life, helping kids with life. Teaching kids some values. Teaching kids that, if we are talking sports, to play every shift like its your last because one day its going to be your last and you just don’t know when.”
Bay Staters Teaming Up Out West
DeMaio spent six years coaching at Norwood, leading the Mustangs to three straight playoff appearances and a record of 47-18 during those years. He stepped down following the 2009 season, after which Norwood posted a program-best 17-5 record, and moved his family to Southern California after accepting a transfer at his full time job.He currently serves as an assistant coach under former Johns Hopkins star Kyle Harrison at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California, where his oldest son Anthony is a freshman.
DeMaio was already familiar with Brady Wein’s story, courtesy of longtime Natick coach Nate Kittler. At one of the first lacrosse events DeMaio attended in his new home, he ran into Kittler and Wein and was immediately impressed with the focus that the program had on off the field life lessons.
DeMaio joined Brady’s Bunch in January, 2011, as a program director and also brought his two sons, Anthony and Nicholas, into the fold as well.
“It reminded me a lot of some of my doings in Norwood and I thought it was a great path for me to follow out west,” DeMaio explained. “As much as they were a great team, they focused a lot of their energy off the field. Meeting in the hotel lobbies and talking to the players about life and cancer. Just a lot of focus on making the individual a better kid and learning a lesson over the weekend instead of just going out and winning a tournament, which they do fairly often.”
Oh Wait, That’s The Kid???
When I asked both Wein and DeMaio is Brady was aware of lacrosse and had any understanding of the game itself, they both laughed simultaneously.“His skills are probably like a seventh grader,” Wein said with a proud smile that was clearly evident over the phone as we spoke. “He’s been scooping the ball since he was two. He can shoot both lefty and righty. He knows that these kids play for him. He knows this is a special team for him. He’s been to the events before and he’s one of the guys and he knows that one day, he’s going to be able to play Brady’s Bunch lacrosse. He knows all about it.”
Brady’s story is well known enough that kids on other teams gravitate to him when he is able to show up at some of the events. He is something of a rock star – everyone wants to talk to him, pat him on the back or play catch with him. Sometimes Wein doesn’t tell anyone who Brady is, he just lets his son go on the field and start do his thing.
“I let the kids watch him play and they don’t even know,” described Wein. “He’ll go out on the field and shoot and I’ll bring kids after they watched him…I wish I had a penny for everytime I’ve heard, ‘Oh, he’s the best, he’s going Division 1, he’s the best.’ Then I tell them, ‘You see that kid right there? Do you know anything about cancer? Well this is what he is.”
Added DeMaio, “When Brady shows up to an event, regardless of what event it is, it’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my time in lacrosse. Players from all teams, all parts of the country, all come up and they’ve actually heard of Brady. They play catch with him and they are amazed at how, with all the things they’ve heard about Brady being sick, they’re just amazed at how phenomenal of a little lacrosse player he is and how he does everything with a smile.”
Brady Feeds on the Energy of the Bunch
At a tournament this summer in Vail, Colorado, The Bunch was struggling through a particularly poor performance and when Wein called home, he got an awful report on Brady, who was in the midst of a 24-hour stint with an oxygen mask to help regulate his breathing because his lungs had grown too saturated.The very next time The Bunch took the field, everything came together and the team pulled off a major upset. Meanwhile, back in Arizona, Brady had pulled through his trauma with flying colors and was back in good spirits. Coincidence?
Be sure to experience Brady’s Bunch Saturday afternoon at Thayer Academy and Sunday at Harvard. There is a lot more than just great lacrosse taking place.