Stars line up in this family

A former Red Sox catcher and a former star softball pitcher in Framingham pass on the gift of athleticism to their three children

By Lenny Megliola
Globe Correspondent / July 4, 2010

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The mother listened to her 8-year-old daughter map out her life. “She said ‘Mom, I’m going to Nobles to play hockey, then I’m going to Harvard and become a doctor.’ ’’

What could Sherry Gedman say? That’s nice, sweetheart?

Sherry would take Marissa, when she was about half the size of a hockey stick, to the New England Sports Center in Marlborough for figure-skating lessons. When they got home, her older brothers, Mike and Matt, teased Marissa about the white skates. “They were ripping on me,’’ Marissa recalled recently.

Her brothers had black skates. They played hockey. “I didn’t want to see her figure skate,’’ Matt said. “I wanted to see her play hockey.’’

Why not, she thought. She’d show them. Marissa joined the Framingham Youth Hockey League, playing against boys. Her father, former Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman, laid out a rink in the family’s Framingham backyard. He took care of the ice surface, which was in constant use.

“Rich was like a human Zamboni,’’ said his wife.

The Gedman children were looked upon favorably by the gene pool. Rich played 13 years in the big leagues, and Sherry was a star softball pitcher at St. Peter-Marian High School in Worcester, where the couple met, and for the University of Connecticut.

Their daughter was always playing against boys; youth hockey, Little League baseball, even football with her brothers in the front yard. “I couldn’t wait to get tackled by her,’’ said Matt. “She’s a pretty strong girl.’’

Marissa shadowed Mike and Matt wherever they went, played whatever they played.

Now 18, she never abandoned her early goals: She went to Dedham’s Noble & Greenough School, where she was an Independent School League all-star in three sports, and heads to Harvard in the fall, where she may study premed and plans to play hockey, her best sport.

Marissa began at Noble & Greenough as a seventh-grader. Playing softball and field hockey as well as hockey, she earned 15 varsity letters, and this spring was awarded the Noble Shield as the school’s best female athlete. She was named All-ISL three times in hockey. “She was a force on defense, and at times we put her at forward on the power play,’’ said coach Tom Resor.

“I definitely tried to get in the scoring,’’ said Marissa. “I’m not a stay-at-home defenseman.’’

“We looked to her to produce a lot of our offense,’’ said Resor. “She has one of the hardest shots of any girl I’ve ever coached.’’

Marissa had 14 goals and 33 assists the last two seasons. “She had great endurance too,’’ Resor said. “She could play 30 of the 45 minutes and not be fazed.’’

While Mike and Matt Gedman were starring on the diamond at their schools, Loomis Chaffee and Belmont Hill, respectively, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, their sister’s hockey career was flourishing. The Bulldogs won the New England prep school championship in her sophomore and junior years.

“Matt and I were there when they won in her sophomore year,’’ Mike said. “She had an injured wrist and could barely move it. But she took over the game. Me and my brother thought, ‘She’s really good now!’ That was like her coming out party.’’

Marissa considered going to the Rivers School in Weston, but was drawn to the strong hockey program at Noble & Greenough. “I loved Nobles from the day I got there,’’ she said. It would be her home away from home for six years. She played junior-varsity hockey as a seventh-grader, and was on the varsity after that.

“College is always on your mind when you’re playing sports,’’ she said. “I was a committed student. I considered a lot of Ivy League schools.’’

She also looked at Boston College, which plays a more challenging schedule. But, Marissa said, “I talked to a lot of girls who had played hockey and they said, ‘How can you pass up Harvard? Hockey won’t help feed you down the road.’ ’’

As for her choice of majors, Marissa said, “Recently I’ve become really interested in medicine.’’ Science has always been a favorite subject.

“I would have loved to been able to make that choice, BC or Harvard,’’ said Mike. “Matt and I just got by, academically.’’

In March, Marissa played for USA Hockey’s under-18 team at the World Championships in Chicago. They made it to the gold-medal game against Canada (“inevitable, I guess,’’ said Marissa), but lost in overtime.

In April, Marissa won the John Carlton Award presented by the Boston Bruins to the top student-athlete in the state. The night it was to be presented, Marissa was playing for her Assabet Valley club team in a tournament in Wisconsin. Her father accepted the award from Bruin executive and ex-player Cam Neely at the TD Garden.

“I’m so proud of her,’’ said Mike. “She’s showing me and Matt up now. She works so hard. She deserves everything she gets.’’ The boys are no slouches, though.

Mike, 23, just graduated from UMass. His best season was his junior year, when he hit .345 and made the Atlantic 10 Conference’s all-star team. This spring he hit .314 with eight home runs, but his most memorable performance was on the mound. A closer last season, he made his first collegiate start at Oklahoma, with UMass at 0-4. The Sooners, who went deep into the College World Series last month, won the game, 4-2, but it was an impressive outing for Mike.

This summer he’s playing for two amateur teams, Framingham’s MetroWest A’s in the Central New England Baseball Association, and Medford’s entry in the Intercity Baseball League, the Andre Chiefs.

Best advice from Dad?

“He said if you want to be good at something, it doesn’t come easy. He said he wasn’t the fastest or strongest player, but he was going to make sure no one outworked him on the field.’’

Matt, 21, has another year left at UMass, where this spring he hit .313 as a shortstop. This summer he is playing for the Lowell All-Americans in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

Rich Gedman was an assistant coach at Belmont Hill School when his sons played there, and saw many of their UMass games.

But with Gedman in his sixth season as manager of the Worcester Tornadoes, an independent professional team in the Can-Am League, he and his sons are like ships passing in the night.

“I’m up until 12:30 or 1, and when he comes home we talk about his game and my game,’’ said Matt. “Then he falls asleep pretty quick.’’

Tomorrow there’ll be another game. There’s always another game for the Gedmans.

Lenny Megliola came be reached at

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