During his college soccer days at Towson, Pat Healey grew accustomed to receiving a text message from his father on game days.
Kevin Healey, the president and general manager of the Baltimore Blast, would make sure to reach his son by phone earlier in the day, but the quick text later provided one last bit of positive reenforcement.
The younger Healey said the messages were always direct and the same: "Play with confidence, be a leader."
After the Blast used its territorial pick to select Pat Healey in the 2008 Major Indoor Soccer League Draft, the midfielder was getting set for the season opener — his professional indoor soccer debut playing for the hometown team — when another text came from his father.
This one was different.
"I just told Pat how proud I was of him, how much this meant to the family and reminded him that his Pop Pop [grandfather] would be looking down on him," Kevin Healey said. "Sometimes I can be a little emotional, and I was when I sent that text."
Entering his fourth season as the Blast open Saturday night against the expansion Syracuse Silver Knights at 1st Mariner Arena, Pat Healey continues to make his father proud.
After earning MISL Rookie of the Year honors after the 2008-09 season, he has steadily developed into a complete player. He emerged as a consistent scoring threat last season, leading the team with 17 goals and 13 assists while continuing to do the little things that coach Danny Kelly adamantly preaches.
With a number of veteran players leaving the team following last season — most notably captain Robbie Aristodemo, forward Giuliano Celenza, and defenders Pat Morris and Billy Nelson — Healey is prepared to do even more to help the team win games this season.
"Pat is one of those guys that you don't notice, because he's not flashy," Kelly said. "But you also don't notice him because he's making mistakes, either. He knows the game, does his job well, and communicates and knows the right play to make."
The Healey name is ingrained in Baltimore soccer and covers three generations.
Kevin Healey's father, the late F. Patrick Healey, was instrumental in the development of youth soccer in the area as the president of the Maryland State Soccer Association and with his time spent on the board of directors of the United States Soccer Federation.
Kevin Healey, who played on Loyola's 1976 NCAA Division II national championship team, has won six league titles in the 14 years he's led the Blast's front office. In addition, he has extensive coaching experience professionally (including his first four seasons with the Blast as coach and GM) and has helped develop the Baltimore Bays youth club into a national powerhouse.
Both are members of the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame.
Pat, a Calvert Hall graduate, has shown the same passion and dedication for soccer, also coaching for the Bays and serving as an assistant on McDonogh's No. 1 ranked high school team.
"Soccer is kind of a backbone for us," said Pat, whose older sister Alison also played college soccer and now coaches. "It's what I grew up on, and my Dad was always involved. He always took me to games, so I used it as a learning tool because I always wanted to be a professional athlete, play soccer at a high level. I've learned a lot through soccer — leadership and sportsmanship, so it's been a foundation that was set even with my grandfather."
To Pat Healey, growing up around soccer meant serving as a ball boy and spending time around professional players that his father coached over the years. It meant always driving home with his father after games, with a win assuring a trip to Box Hill Pizzeria, where Kevin ordered a crab cake and Pat had his choice of the restaurant's extensive menu.
It meant reviewing game tapes, soaking in all things soccer, while getting quality time in with his father.
"If it was a loss, he usually watched it a few times, but I would only watch it once," Pat said. "A loss also usually had him yelling at the television, and sometimes when I'd already be in bed, I would tell him I had to get to sleep because I had a game the next day. It was good times."
After Pat, who turns 26 next month, married his college sweetheart, Julie, Oct. 22 in Syrcause, N.Y., he was back in Baltimore the following night and at Blast's first practice the next morning. The couple decided to hold off on its honeymoon until after the season.
"At an early age, you could see Pat having that same passion and dedication for soccer that his father has and that his grandfather had," said his mother, Dawn Healey. "So when you've grown up into a family like that, it's kind of hard not to have it because you're surrounded by it so much."
As for Pat and Julie holding off on their honeymoon until the Blast season was over, Dawn can relate.
"Two years ago, I turned 50 and my present from Kevin was a trip to Pebble Beach. I haven't seen that yet," she said with a laugh. "Who knows when that's going to happen, because there's never an opportune time for him to travel across the country."
Pat, who led Calvert Hall to two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Assocaition championships and was the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year in his senior year at Towson, has provided Kevin with so many proud moments as a father. But one stands out.
"Early on, having my dad there and watching him play," Kevin said. "Just him saying not only what a good player Pat was, but what a good boy he was — that's the thing I'm most proud of."