Field hockey is a lifelong interest of the Deschaine family members. Pictured are current players Megan Deschaine '16 (left) and Jenna Deschaine '18 (far right) with their mother, Patricia Porter Deschaine '89.
Sometimes a sport gets in your blood. Then your kids'. That's the case in the families of two Saint Michael's College graduates—Patricia "Patty" Porter Deschaine '89, Claremont, N.H., and Bill Dromeshauser '85, Norwell, Mass.
But two sets of two kids, the only children in their families, in the same sport as their parents? At the same college at the same time?
History is being made this school year in Colchester as Megan Deschaine '16 and Jenna Deschaine '18 grab their field hockey sticks and Matt Dromeshauser '15 and Daniel Dromeshauser '18 don their lacrosse helmets, mouthpieces and chest protectors.
"I never dreamed my two daughters would go to Saint Michael's," Patty says. "The decision was theirs, but, obviously, I'm very happy."
It's a joyous time, too, for Bill, who says, "I'm extremely proud to have both my sons at Saint Michael's. I treasured my time there, and I think the small, liberal arts community and Catholic influence make a great environment."
That they chose their parents' sport as Purple Knights is another plus, and that may have been because the parents coached their own children. For the field hockey players, that's been supplemented by coaching from their father, Richard Deschaine; and for the lacrosse competitors, by avid support from their mother, Stephani Dromeshauser.
Now, the parents have turned over the coaching role—at least of their sons and daughters, but not teams back home—to field hockey head coach Carla Hesler and men's lacrosse head coach Pat Ivory '08, M'13.
While history-making fuels an interesting story, the students are focused on their teams of about 30 players each, mastering their skills, enjoying their games and performing their best academically and athletically.
'Let's do it'
When it comes to great moments in his lacrosse career in the attack position, Matt recalls two: the six points he landed in a single game, and Saint Michael's win over Adelphi University in his sophomore year. "I didn't play that game, but it was the best win in school history, and it was fun to be a part of that."
Matt was on the field as a youngster, playing in 2nd grade at a youth program his father started, then club summer teams beginning in 5th grade, and all through middle and high school.
"I love it. I just love the sport," he says. "It's always fun to play."
One of his strengths, he believes, is his ability to guide younger players. "I'm not the most uptight person. Some get stressed out and yell, but I just show them what to do. When I was a freshman, someone did that for me. He'd say, ‘Do this, you'll do way better,' and it helped. I show them pointers.
Because of their age difference, he didn't play on teams with his brother, "but I grew up playing with him in the backyard."
Saint Michael's was a great choice, even though he'd said for years he was going to Syracuse, where his mom is from. A visit to Saint Michael's and an on-campus summer camp swayed his decision.
"It was the best choice," he says. "You get to know your professors. You're not just a name on a paper. And if you go see your professors, they're always willing to help."
Pre-game, he stays calm. "I don't get freaked out, I'm just like, let's do it," he says.
'I try my hardest'
Daniel, too, took to lacrosse young, kindergarten or 1st grade with his dad as coach. "I've been playing my whole life. I couldn't think of not playing," he says. "I was on my first actual team in 2nd grade," he says, and he played faceoff midfielder on club and school teams.
His forte, he says, is his good energy. "I think I bring a good attitude, and I try my hardest all the time."
Before competing, his style is extreme focus. "I numb everything out. I block all the noise and everything out of my head, and I focus on one thing."
Although his mom, Stephani, is the only one in the family of four who doesn't play lacrosse, "I think she loves lacrosse," Daniel says. "She's usually at my games."
Saint Michael's was an easy decision for him, because it's where his father went and then his brother. Now that he's on campus, "It seems like a great place to be, and I love Vermont."
His goal for the season? "I'm hoping to get some playing time and do the best I can."
'I like to think I never I give up'
A junior, Megan has been hitting the hockey ball for years. She's now playing forward, and also played midfield, offense and defense.
Her first year, she well remembers her first goal, in a September 9 game against Adelphi.
"I like how it's been in my family—my mom, a lot of my aunts, my sister and dad, too," she says. "It's something we can all come together and talk about."
Her teams over the years have become her families,
too. She enjoys encouraging them, bringing "snacks
and pump-up notes."
"My teammates say I give 110 percent on the field. I like to think I never give up. And off the field, I support my team, too."
Field hockey lured her to Saint Michael's. "I was recruited by the coach, and I knew about the school from Mom. She said good things about it."
Megan also wanted a smaller school. "I wanted Division II field hockey—I didn't want to go to a Division I school, where all I could think about was hockey. I still have to work hard, but it doesn't take up my whole college life."
She's getting the academics she wanted—a biology major and chemistry/psychology minor. And she's staying in shape—going to the gym with teammates, and "even though I'm not a big veggie fan, I'm trying to eat more because they are good for you and give me more energy."
As for having her sister close by, Megan says, "I love it. If I'm missing home, I can go see her. I have a piece of home with me. We are best friends."
'I'm so happy when I play'
Doing what her mom and sister have done is fine with Jenna, who is a biology major and also hopes to coach one day. "I'm so happy when I play," she says.
She arrived at Saint Michael's College ready for both athletics and service. Her senior year of high school, she landed the Best Female Athlete award, and the year before she received a 2013 Saint Michael's College Book Award for Academic Achievement with a Social Conscience.
On the field, she says, "I think I'm good at picking up quickly and applying it quickly, and I work hard." Listening to hip hop and dance music before a match helps her mentally prepare.
As for her first year of college field hockey play, Jenna says, "I'm definitely going to work hard. But I'm prepared to watch, too."
One of her most treasured athletic memories goes back to her sophomore year and her sister's senior year in high school. "We won the final four on her birthday."
Despite her mother's field hockey and academic successes at Saint Michael's, the decision of where to go to college was all Jenna's, she says. "My Mom stayed out of the college process. She didn't influence me. She left the decision up to me."
'My experience was life-changing'
A family friend, Benjamin Collins, introduced Bill to lacrosse, and it's been a lifelong love since. He transferred to Saint Michael's in his sophomore year, fall 1982. It was the school's first year in varsity lacrosse.
He well remembers the day his Division II, 16-member team took on the University of Vermont team with some 50 players. "While we got beat up pretty badly, everyone worked as hard as they possibly could, and we were really satisfied with what we had done, playing against a Division I team that was really accomplished." And the Purple Knights did go on to wins and winning seasons.
"My experience was life-changing," he says of his college days, crediting his coach, Jeff Culkin, now in the college's Hall of Fame. "It was all about life lessons," he says of his varsity years and coach. "He taught discipline and hard work, but he had a really nice way of relating to all the players even though he was a serious coach.
With men's lacrosse and academics, Bill says, "Saint Michael's provided me with an educational foundation and helped propel me into a business career in technology."
His love of the game extended to sharing it with others, spending 20 years as a youth coach, sharing his enthusiasm with his sons and rallying his former teammates in support of Saint Michael's. "I'm paying it forward," he says.
While gratitude is his strongest feeling for Saint Michael's, pride is his greatest feeling for his sons. "I do believe in them," he says. "And I think Saint Michael's will give them a tremendous foundation for whatever they decide to do in the future."
'I cherish every bit'
"We come from athletics," Patty says of her family. Her interest in field hockey came from watching her older sister, Shannon Porter. Her father, too, was "in the game"—football, swimming, diving.
She learned about Saint Michael's from a neighbor in Springfield, VT, who was a guidance counselor, and the rest is in the record books. She parlayed her athletic ability into countless successes, including Saint Michael's Athletic Hall of Fame. Now, she's a high school varsity coach in Claremont, N.H., where her duties included coaching her own children.
As a player, her greatest rewards were the relationships she built with team members. That's what she hopes the teams she coaches and her daughters get, too—"great bonds they will have even after they walk off the field."
Winning is nice, but she says, "As parents, we just want them to do their best, try their hardest. That's all we ask."
The girls' father, Richard, has developed as much passion for field hockey as Patty, Megan and Jenna have. "He set up obstacle courses in the back yard for the girls and would work with them," Patty says. He's now coaching the sport, too.
But when they head to their daughters' games, they leave those coaching roles at home. "It's so nice to go to Saint Michael's and be the mom," Patty says. "It's an honor. I hope they get out of Saint Michael's what I did. I cherish every bit of what I got from Saint Michael's."
A Look at the Record Books
- Patricia "Patty" Porter Deschaine '89: Saint Michael's Athletic Hall of Fame, inducted 1994; Victor LeMieux Award, 1989; third in career history points (99) and goals (43).
- Megan Deschaine '16: Second-leading scorer, 2013.
- Bill Dromeshauser '85: Captain 1984 and 1985; Coach's Award and Brine All Star nomination, 1985.
- Matt Dromeshauser '15: Junior year: 16 points, 10 goals.
Field hockey and lacrosse teach skills useful beyond the playing fields—in academics,
careers and personal relationships, the Deschaines and Dromeshausers report.
Among their lessons:
- "How to work hard." – Jenna Deschaine '18
- "Leadership, teamwork and doing your part." – Matt Dromeshauser '15
- "Dedication—the time you put in will show in the long run." – Daniel Dromeshauser '18
- "How to mentor, develop great relationships and support others." – Patricia "Patty" Porter Deschaine '89
- "Commitment. And how to pull together for a common goal." – Bill Dromeshauser '85
- "Balancing multiple things in life." – Megan Deschaine '16