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Home team: Family MVP in Brameier’s 30th year

2012 National Coach of the Year honor sets up boys lax coach’s milestone season

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Coach Jeff Brameier (second from right) with family (from left), eldest, daughter Devon (then injured), wife Sharon, Ryan and Jenna (right) following the Wave’s 2012 state title at McMahon last spring. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

BOYS LACROSSE

Marking 30 years in the game this newly turned 2013, Wave award winning boys lacrosse coach Jeff Brameier has only begun to fight.

I don’t really need a plaque to tell me we’ve done things right here for kids and for the program.

— Jeff Brameier

“I’m excited to keep going with my career,” Brameier said. “I certainly don’t see my numbers as fading fast, I feel like I’ve got plenty of years coaching left.”

In fact, the fight began with game one of his coaching days, back in the early 80’s, and in his corner helping to keep him off the mat, has been the Brameier family, growing in kind right with his career.

“Oh yeah — well — it goes without saying that when you have a family, you often sacrifice a lot of family time to be a good coach,” Brameier said. “And by the same token, they sacrifice a lot to allow me to do that.”

That’s wife Sharon, littlest Jenna, high school junior Ryan and eldest Devon who started university last fall.

“But they’ve been there with me, and fortunately, lacrosse was something that they enjoyed being a part of,” he added. “And all my kids have played lacrosse in some way.”

And Ryan, a Warrior, is coming right back at him in a big way.

“This year will be the first time I actually have to compete against my kid, he’s hopefully going to be having a chance to start at Wilton,” Brameier, a long-time Wilton resident, and former Darien High football standout, said. “So, that will be tough. I never look forward to playing Wilton, because of that problem. It hasn’t been fun for a few years, with my kids in Wilton. It’s been a tough scenario for them.”

Being in Brameier’s corner truly means something more than just supporting him in the figurative ring.

“That’s a piece to the family that they have to deal with,” he said. “Being a child of a Darien coach doesn’t go over too well in Wilton.

“They’ve gotten a little bit of ribbing; sometimes in good fun, sometimes not in good fun. So it’s hard.”

Harder still is stretching a pro-like 24-7 commitment to lax into the added time and energy to take-in as many more athletic events as you would like to.

“Sometimes I miss things that I should be at,” Brameier said. “Like my oldest daughter — never got to see her do crew — because, it always seemed to be in conflict with lacrosse.

“But I do get to see her do a lot of other things well. I saw her in field hockey and lacrosse — it wasn’t like we never did anything together.”

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Brameier lifts the State Championship plaque in a crowd in 2005. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

Lacrosse is the common family endeavor on the field.

“And I’ve certainly been around my son’s lacrosse game plenty,” Brameier said. “And I’ve been around my younger daughter’s lacrosse and field hockey and all that stuff.

“Fortunately, I’ve been able to hang close with them, and they appreciate my time I share with them.”

Missing ‘home’ game’s you’d rather not, it’s part of the game of coaching.

“Definitely, all coaches know, that, you do sacrifice a lot of family time. Particularly when they were younger and I was coaching three sports.”

Brameier manned the boys swimming and diving and football bench as well for long runs during his tenure.

“It was very tough for them and my wife,” he said. “I’d come home from coaching football and show up at the doorstep, and (Sharon) would be handing me Ryan as a baby, and saying ‘he’s yours.’”

From changing players on the field, to changing diapers on the fly, it’s all part of the curriculum for a busy coach.

“You got through it, but, it was definitely a hard time for her, a hard time for me. And that’s part of parenting and part of having to do a job.”

It’s never been about part time for Brameier.

“Obviously coaching is a passion, for me, but it’s also a job. And it’s turned into being a professional part of my career and a business with the outgrowth of Sono Field House and Chargers and camps. It’s a big part of my livelihood and they understand that.”

Speaking of big, Brameier was named boys lacrosse National Coach of the Year last summer.

“That was a testament to the longevity to my career, I guess.”

It was handed out in South Dakota.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Brameier said of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association honor. “It’s a sign of good things. But just to be recognized on the national front is always a testament to the program and the town, and whatnot.”

And it’s not coaching awards that keep him going into decade No. 4.

“I’m not a huge fan of awards, like that,” he said. “The accomplishments that led up to those awards are much more important.”

The recognition of the Wave becoming Conn. Team of the Year, a number of times, state and FCIAC crowns, are all much more satisfying accolades, he said.

“To me, that’s all the individual stuff,” he added. “And I’m happy for all the kids when they get it, but I find kids getting All-American and Conn. Player of the Year, sometimes that’s not necessarily a great thing — it’s a good and a bad thing for the program.”

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Good luck charm youngest daughter Jenna, making state finals since she could about walk, and dad Jeff chalk up another shared state title pose last year. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

The philosophy’s consistent.

“We always preach team. And the individual awards always come to teams that are successful. That’s where I am. I would much rather have another state championship, another Conn. Player of the Year. Those are the awards for me. That’s a testament to my work. I don’t really need a plaque to tell me we’ve done things right here for kids and for the program.”

Testaments to Brameier’s work come roaring onto the field with new varsity recruits, and on to college rosters from the old crew, every year.

“It’s an exciting time,” he said. “Got a lot of goals still out in front of us. We’ve got the state championships to win, and win back the FCIAC Championship. And we’ve got a lot of horses coming through the next few years.”

It’s more like a stampede.

“We had some great freshmen teams in the last three years, so, we’ll weather the storm of losing some elite players like we did with Case (Matheis) and Henry (West) and Tony (Britton), and the likes. But I think our stable’s never empty.”

Brameier might hang up one saddle, though.

“I’m getting near the end of my teaching career, maybe,” the long-time DHS instructor said. “I can retire from teaching any time soon, if I wanted to. Sometimes, if there is nothing else out there to do, you just keep doing it.”

He’s been teaching for 35 years.

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Darien Times Sports Editor since 2000

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