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Kendall Bresee’s success with Mount St. Mary’s women’s basketball driven by athletic family

Mount St. Mary's guard Kendall Bresee breaks free during a game against James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va., on Nov. 25, 2020.
Mount St. Mary's guard Kendall Bresee breaks free during a game against James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va., on Nov. 25, 2020. (Daniel Lin/AP)

Years after purchasing a used 2010 Chevrolet Suburban with 20,000 miles, Richie Bresee recently turned in the vehicle with 280,000 miles. Many of those miles were accumulated when he and his wife Meghan Bresee drove their four children to various basketball, football and soccer practices from their home in Frederick to destinations throughout the state such as Baltimore, Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County, and North Bethesda in Montgomery County.

“Lots of driving, but it was all worth it,” Richie Bresee said.

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The Bresee parents’ labor is paying dividends. Kendall Bresee, the second oldest of the Bresee children at 22 years old, is a redshirt senior shooting guard for the Mount St. Mary’s women’s basketball program who on Monday was named the Northeast Conference Player of the Year and top defender.

On Wednesday, Bresee and the Mountaineers (15-6, 14-4), the top seed in the conference tournament, will host No. 4 seed Fairleigh Dickinson (16-7, 12-6) in a semifinal at 7 p.m. at Knott Arena in Emmitsburg.

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Bryan Bresee, the third oldest at 19, is a starting defensive tackle for the Clemson football team who wrapped up his freshman season as the school’s second Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Rookie of the Year. And Ella Bresee, the youngest who will turn 14 on Friday, is a promising basketball player who has already matched Kendall’s height of 5 feet 10.

Considering that Richie Bresee, 53, was a first-team All-State offensive guard in football at James Madison and Meghan Bresee, 48, was an first-team All-American forward in basketball at Frederick Community College, the pool of athleticism runs deep within the family.

“Obviously, the athletic genes in their family are pretty strong,” Mount St. Mary’s coach Maria Marchesano said. “The Bresee family is just super energetic, super supportive. They’re just supreme athletes.”

From left, Richie, Meghan, Bailey, Ella, Kendall and Bryan of the Bresee family pose for a photo.
From left, Richie, Meghan, Bailey, Ella, Kendall and Bryan of the Bresee family pose for a photo. (Courtesy of Bresee family)

That athletic ability among the Bresee children began early. Bailey Bresee, the firstborn who is now 24, was the first one to play organized basketball, and her father said she was the more natural dribbler and scorer and could have played at the Division I level if a cyst in her foot as a freshman at Urbana High School had not derailed her path.

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Kendall Bresee juggled basketball and soccer when she turned 8. She played on a mostly boys soccer team for a while and frequently moved up to play on her sister’s basketball team.

And while his sisters learned how to ride bicycles at the age of 4, Bryan Bresee began when he was 2.

Staying active was commonly emphasized throughout the Bresee home. Bryan Bresee recalled leaving the house in the summer or on weekends to play with friends in the morning and not returning until well after dinner. Kendall Bresee said their parents set the example by convincing the children to join them for walks to area retail stores.

“It has definitely rubbed off a ton,” Bryan Bresee said. “They always argue about who gave us our athletic genes. They try to fight over it, but I just think it was a combination of them being super athletic and how competitive we are. I think that comes from them. We were just so competitive with each other, and we hated to lose.”

Determining who was tops among the children was a daily occurrence. There is the oft-told story of a family reunion in New Jersey a few years ago when Kendall Bresee took a charge from Bryan Bresee, who was already well over 6 feet and 250 pounds, during a basketball game to prevent his team from winning. (Bryan Bresee was subsequently banished from the court for his rough play.)

But competition could be as simple as seeing who could get to the bathroom first from the family car or who could climb the stairs in the fastest time.

“It was the smallest of things,” Kendall Bresee said. “Even playing a board game usually turned into an argument because everyone is so strong-headed. With my siblings, it was, ‘Who can be the fastest?’ I think that played a big role in us passionately pursuing the athletic careers that we’re in right now.”

Bryan Bresee said he can recall Kendall tormenting him. Yet he said he is grateful for his sisters’ influence on him.

“Even if I had no sisters and it was just me, my mom and my dad, it would be completely different because our family is so close,” he said. “We really just drive each other.”

The Bresee children found a release for their competitive juices in organized sports. Bryan Bresee traveled as far as Mervo High School in Baltimore to practice football.

During basketball season in middle and high school, Kendall Bresee took part in practice and then made her way to North Bethesda and later Upper Marlboro for Amateur Athletic Union practice twice per week. Sessions with the AAU team would get extended to four or five days per week during the offseason.

Bailey Bresee enrolled at Randolph-Macon College and played intramural basketball. Richie and Kendall Bresee frequently drove to Ashland, Virginia, to watch Bailey play, and Richie Bresee recalled one game when he and Kendall were especially vocal in rooting for Bailey and her team.

“A player from the other team came over to us and said, ‘You know this is just an intramural game, right?’” Richie Bresee said. “But Kendall and I couldn’t turn it off.”

Richie and Meghan Bresee juggled work schedules and family commitments to drive their children seemingly all over the state, which could be taxing.

“There were times when we didn’t want to do it, but we were of the mindset that if they were willing to continue to go through with it, we would do whatever we could to help them reach their goals and dreams,” Richie Bresee said. “So for us, it was just part of the process.”

Their commitment resonated with the children.

“They supported us no matter what we decided to do,” Kendall Bresee said. “I think they influenced us in the fact that because my dad played a sport in college, he always said it was the best years of his life, and he had so much fun doing it, and he wouldn’t change anything. I think them being our No. 1 fans, we realized that we loved it. Just having them there with us and realizing that they’ve gone through everything we’ve gone through helps us a lot. That influenced us to want to pursue playing in college.”

After spending her first two seasons at George Washington, Kendall Bresee, who credited her late maternal grandfather Phil Flynn with nurturing her and her sisters’ interest in basketball, selected Mount St. Mary’s over Loyola Maryland and UMBC. Bryan Bresee, a five-star prospect and No. 1 overall recruit in the country at Damascus, chose Clemson over Ohio State and Penn State.

Even during the coronavirus pandemic, Kendall and Bryan Bresee spent last summer racing each other up hills at a local park, running laps on a track, and moving portable heaters into a small room in their parents’ basement to conduct high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions.

Kendall Bresee said she was particularly moved when her mother, who abhors running, would run with her through the neighborhood and her father would join her for HIIT workouts in the backyard.

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“If I said that I was struggling to work out, they would always work out with me,” she said. “I think that was huge for me because if I didn’t have two active parents, I would probably be sitting on the couch every single day, all day. They push me, which is awesome and is more than I could ever ask for from parents who don’t even need to do that.”

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Marchesano, the Mountaineers coach, said it was common to see Richie and Meghan Bresee in the stands of their road games, citing their presence at Kentucky and Indiana in November 2019. Even as the pandemic prevented family members and fans from attending games, Marchesano said she knows the parents are watching the games online.

“Game day is a celebration for that family,” she said. “Whether it’s football or basketball, it’s a reason to get together, a reason to spend time and support their kids. There’s no chance they’ve missed a single game this year, even though it’s been virtual. I guarantee that.”

Sports will likely continue to be a centerpiece for the Bresee family. Bryan Bresee has at least three more years at Clemson, and Kendall Bresee has another year of eligibility at her disposal as she pursues an MBA at Mount St. Mary’s. And that doesn’t even account for Ella Bresee.

But the Bresee parents admitted that they are bracing for the eventual scenario when their children will no longer be involved in organized sports.

“It’s been such a part of our lives for so long,” Richie Bresee said. “At some point, it’s going to come an end, and it’s not forever, but we just want them to continue to do it as long as they can and as long as they want to. So far, it’s been a great ride for the both of them.”

Added Meghan Bresee: “We have loved every minute of it. We wouldn’t know what to do if they weren’t playing sports.”

NEC semifinal

FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON@MOUNT ST. MARY’S

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

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