Holly and Tracey Drown Keep The Tradition At UMass
May 2, 2006
By Danny Picard, Collegian Staff
You may see a familiar number around Garber Field these days. Chances are if you have been to a Massachusetts women's lacrosse game this year, you have noticed a player - wearing the number 22 - scooping up ground balls and causing turnovers in the midfield. But it's not the number 22 that UMass is used to.
For three seasons, Tracey Drown led the Minutewomen offensive attack while donning 22 on her back, before graduating in 2004. Nowadays, a member of the Drown family is still wearing that number down at Garber Field. Only it's not Tracy. It's her little sister, Holly.
The number 22 runs in their family. At least, that is the reason why freshman Holly Drown decided to wear it on the back of her jersey. She certainly did not want to be the one to break the tradition.
"I didn't really have a choice on that matter," Holly says. "I wore 22 in high school, too. [Tracey] was always 22 in college and in soccer. And I like the number 2. It was just convenient that way."
"It's sort of our thing," Tracey says. "After me leaving, there was a year apart, and none of the freshman had taken 22, even before she committed. So, it was meant to be. She loves the number 22, my dad loves the number 22, and I like the number 22. I was that number in high school, I don't know, it's just one of those things."
Tracey Drown is now in her second season as the assistant coach of the UMass women's lacrosse team. Her little sister, Holly, just finished her first regular season of collegiate lacrosse with the Minutewomen.
While it looks to be a story of sisterly love, Holly never wanted to follow in her older sister's footsteps. In fact, she wanted to avoid being in Tracey's shadow so much, that UMass was never even an option.
"Holly didn't even want to come to UMass at first," UMass coach Carrie Bolduc says. "She didn't want to follow in Tracey's footsteps. I actually didn't even actively recruit her until the end of the summer. And at that point, it really sparked some interest. So she ended up looking, and we got her here."
Holly was looking at Boston University, Syracuse and New Hampshire, and was lined up to do official visits to those schools over the summer.
As things played out, Bolduc randomly wrote Holly an e-mail. She wrote the e-mail as a friend, and offered to help Holly throughout the selection process. But at the end of the e-mail Bolduc asked her if she had ever thought of looking at UMass, and from there on in, it was a perfect match.
"It was very surprising to everyone when I decided to come here because I really was against doing that," Holly says. "I just decided that I really liked the school at one point. I decided that I could deal with following in Tracey's footsteps. I woke up one day and said, 'I think I'm going to look at UMass.'"
"Being familiar with the program was one of the reasons why I came to UMass," Holly says. "But not necessarily because she was the assistant coach. There were no guarantees that she was going to be here, there never is. I just liked the school."
Holly chose the Maroon and White mainly because of her familiarity with the school and the program, but it had nothing to do with her older sister. Tracey knew that Holly's decision should not be based on those holding the whistles, so she did not convince her to come to UMass.
"What I was taught when I was looking at colleges was you can't judge on your coaches," Tracey says. "It has to be on the girls, the program that you have and your school. So I made that clear to her. I really made sure that she thought it through because it worried me - don't make this decision because of me, and don't make it because I went here. That doesn't matter to me. I really wanted to make sure she was happy in her decision."
Holly has battled through an injury-plagued freshman season in 2006. She started in the first six games of the season, all while playing with an inflamed rib cage. And while Holly and Tracey will tell you that they are two totally different people, Bolduc sees one important similarity: they are both warriors.
"She's like her sister," Bolduc says. "When Tracey was a senior, she had this cough that was unbearable to even listen to. It was so bad at one of the practices, I just told her to go home, and I never tell people to do that. Tracey is a fighter, and so is Holly. They are very similar. Holly fought through her rib cage injury, so you can kind of draw a parallel there in that they're not going to give up, and they just want to play, they want to compete and they want to win. They'll do whatever it takes."
Regardless of injuries, Holly had a solid freshman year. She finished the regular season with eight points on eight goals, as well as tallying 30 ground balls, 20 draw controls, and causing 16 turnovers.
Her most notable game of the season came against Vermont on March 29 at Garber Field. It was Holly's first game back after missing the previous two contests with the rib cage injury. Needless to say, Holly returned with a vengeance, scoring her first career hat trick, and leading the way in UMass' 16-9 win.
The victory over Vermont snapped a three-game losing skid for the Minutewomen, and even though Drown was not fully healed, her will to play was a testament as to how tough she really is.
"I was really sick for a while, and after I was sick, my rib cage hurt pretty badly," Holly says. "I didn't really know why, so I kept going to the doctor's and got an x-ray. It was very frustrating to play with because every time I would breathe in, it would hurt. But there was nothing they could do for it, so I just sucked it up.
"It hurts at times [during games]," she continued. "I'll get hit, and it hurts. But I'm fine. It's something I've learned to deal with it. I never would stop playing for something like that. It's nothing serious to me. I've dealt with worse things."
And the most courageous part: Holly didn't even tell anyone that she was hurting.
"I didn't know for like two-and-a-half to three weeks that she was injured," Tracey says. "I knew something was bothering her, though, because she would be coming off the field and grabbing her chest."
Having her older sister around when she was sick and injured was one of the benefits of having Tracey as a coach, especially when they were on the road.
"It's just nice to have a comfortable face to see everyday," Tracey says. "When she was sick, and we were at Hofstra, I think it was probably the best thing in the world that I was there for her. And I would do that for any of my players, but just knowing that I'm her sister, it's comforting. It's just like having a parent there."
While Tracey knew her sister's injury was holding her back, she could not give any extra attention to Holly on the field. And sometimes, that was the hardest part about having to coach her younger sibling.
"It's a challenge," Tracey says. "As a coach, it's difficult because you never want to show favoritism to any player. Unfortunately, I think Holly gets the backlash of it because I almost avoid correcting her or specifically yelling at her. I don't try to pick her out, and I think sometimes that hurts her because I do know her so well, and I know her facial expressions, and I know her body language.
"It's been touchy, but from the beginning until now, it has changed a lot," Tracey continued. "Because now, everybody knows there's no favoritism. The whole team knows I do not favor Holly just because she is my sister. So now it's much easier. I'm able to say, 'Good job,' or scream and yell at her because I don't think it matters anymore."
There's no question that the Drown sisters have grown closer during this unique experience. And with a full season now under her belt, the entire UMass coaching staff has high expectations for Holly.
"She's been as consistent as a freshman could be," Bolduc says. "As a freshman, she does everything right, if not more. She had a tough beginning of the season due to some injuries, but she's finally recovering from that, and is getting stronger and building up her strength on the field. I think we're going to see some good things from her in the future."
As for life after college, Holly remains adamant on being her own person. And while Tracy hopes to be calling the shots one day, she also sees a little bit of coaching in her sister's crystal ball.
"As for me, I don't know where the wind is going to take me," Tracey says. "I would definitely love to be a head coach. I need to learn a lot more. I need to get more experience. I need to learn more about the psyche of the girls because dealing with girls on a day-to-day basis is very difficult. It's all about their psychology, the way to motivate them, the problems that they face everyday. In that respect, I need to gain more experience, but I definitely aspire to be a head coach one day."
"I think Holly is definitely going to go in a different direction after college," Tracey says. "Holly is an extremely talented writer. She is more of a creative-type person. She likes being with herself, her books, and her work. But in the same respect, she has been able to coach. She does camps at home. The kids absolutely adore her. I think she's got a lot more coaching to her than she thinks she does."