The Tomassoni Bunch
* Brother pairs pop up all over the Harvard roster
Two McCarthys. Two Moores. One team.
It's going to be a confusing season.
Harvard hockey fans will be seeing double not once but this winter, as the men's varsity team boasts two brother combinations on its 1997-1998 roster.
Captain Jeremiah McCarthy will be joined on the ice by his freshman brother Liam.
Additionally, Steve Moore, also a freshman, joins sophomore brother Mark on the team.
Amazingly, this phenomenon is by no means foreign to college-level hockey, as Harvard is one of many schools that counts sets of brothers among its players.
The four teammates were introduced to skating at a young age and began playing hockey at the age of four or five years. They continued to play for both school and league teams through adolescence and high school years.
For Mark and Steve, skating for the same team is familiar territory. Excepting a brief span in which they separated, the two have skated together on several different teams, including their high school squad.
The brothers also played together for one year in the Canadian Juniors.
Jeremiah and Liam, however, are entering a new epoch in their respective hockey careers. This season marks the first time that the brothers will take the ice together to skate for the same team.
"We are three years apart, and so we never got to play together except during the summers with pick-up games," Liam said. "It should be exciting to finally be on a team with him at the same time."
For Jeremiah, team captain and four-year varsity skater, being able to share his final Crimson season with his brother is icing on the cake.
"It's amazing--it's really special to me," Jeremiah said. "When we took the ice at Midnight Madness it was probably the happiest moment of my life."
Indeed, the brothers all agree that playing together for the Crimson is something they eagerly anticipate.
"I like playing with my brother on the ice because he is a good player," Steve said. "And I like having him around because we know each other well. We push each other when we aren't playing to our abilities, and when he plays well, it gives me the encouragement to play well too."
Having an older brother skating for the Crimson has also helped Liam and Steve to quickly acclimate themselves to the often complex world of collegiate athletics.
"On good thing about having him here is that it's someone who knows the ropes already, the ins and outs of the team and the school," Steve said. "It makes the transition that much easier."
"My brother has been here for four years," Liam added. "So just from being around him I've already learned my way a bit."
Though the two younger brothers are definitely excited to be afforded the opportunity to play with their respective brothers at the college level, both point out that choosing Harvard was a decision based on much more than just family ties.
"Both my brother and I had offers from several schools," Steve said. "And although I didn't choose Harvard solely because it was where my brother played, it was definitely a plus in my decision making."
"I've always wanted to play on a team with my brother," Liam said. "We get along really well and are basically best friends. It was by no means the only factor in my decision, but it was a definite bonus in my coming here."
Both Liam and Steve added that, contrary to popular misconception, they have never felt any pressure competing in the shadow of their older brothers.
"I'm my own player," Liam said. "Obviously Jeremiah has established himself in college hockey, but I don't feel any pressure to live up to or even surpass him. I'm just going to go out there and play my game every day, and if people want to make comparisons, that's up to them."
The brothers agree that such comparisons are unfortunately inevitable, yet easily disregarded.
It is clear that the opportunity to play with one's brother at the college level is truly an incredible experience.
But what if, instead of donning the same jerseys, brothers take the ice for opposing teams?
This season, Harvard is not restricted solely to internal brother combinations.
There are also two brother tandems which span the ECAC.
Senior Doug Sproule and sophomore Scott Turco both have brothers that chose to take the ice for Ivy nemesis Yale.
The Crimson teammates both agree that having Bulldog brothers has been a fun and exciting experience.
"It's definitely a lot of fun to get together and see my brother for a game," Doug said. "Not many people have the opportunity to play with their brother at this level. Besides, it makes the Yale game much more interesting--I don't want to lose to my brother."
"I look forward to playing Yale," Scott said. "My brother and I follow each other's teams so it's a chance to stack up against each other. But during a game I think of him as just another player on the other team--I don't treat him any differently."
The Harvard-Yale games are therefore always an event for the Sproule and Turco families, giving them a chance to see everyone in action at once.
"The games are always an especially good opportunity for my family to watch my brother and I at the same time," Scott said. "Our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles--everyone comes to the games. So it's always a big game for us."
Deciding how to cheer, and whom to cheer for, however, can get a bit tricky.
"My parents usually just root for one team or the other depending upon which one of us is currently skating," Doug said. "They cheer for us as players, not for one team or the other."
Whether currently teammates or rivals, it was commonly agreed that growing up playing the same sport had a definite positive impact on the brothers' abilities and provided for a healthy competitive spirit.
"It's great having brothers in the same sport that can compete with you and encourage you," Doug said. "There were always two people I could count on being willing and able to play against for fun, and for summer pick-up games, I knew that there would always be at least two other people that could skate out there."
"When we were younger, Liam used to get pretty sick of me always beating him," Jeremiah said. "But he's catching up to me quickly, and I think it's great that we are competing on the same level now--it's a lot of fun."
Regardless of current team arrangements, it is certain that the enthusiasm, athletic ability and competitive spirit gained through growing up as a member of a hockey family will doubtless benefit these Crimson icemen.
The Harvard men's hockey team therefore, is fortunate to count so many hockey brothers among its team members.