For many people, sports are embedded into their lives. Many families have one or multiple sports that run through their household. And this season, on the Waynesburg University men’s basketball team, the idea of family is magnified with two different pairs of brothers on the roster.
Frank and Mark Bozicevic, and Brennan and Sean Smith will play one season together as Frank and Brennan are seniors, Mark is a sophomore, and Sean is a freshman.
Each set of brothers has a unique journey in their years playing the game of basketball. From the time they were young, to high school, to now playing at the collegiate level at Waynesburg University. Although the details of their stories differ, the general theme of sports, specifically basketball, has always been a part of their lives.
“Ever since high school,” Frank said, “it’s been playing in the driveway, or in free time, just going to play basketball.”
“It’s been a part of our whole lives,” Brennan said while explaining that his father was a high school basketball coach for years who also impacted their lives.
Frank and Mark played in high school for two years together, and developed a great sense of chemistry on the court. However, when it was time for Frank to move on, playing at the collegiate level was a dream that he wanted to keep alive. Former head coach Mark Christner, as Frank explained, was a huge reason why he came to Waynesburg.
“Basketball, I would say, is the main reason it brought me to Waynesburg,” Frank said.
As a senior, Frank has worked his way to becoming a starter for the Jackets.
His younger brother, Mark, decided to sit out his freshman year. Once his senior year of high school ended, deciding where to go and what to do was a struggle for Mark.
“Once basketball was coming to an end,” Mark explained, “and I realized how good of a senior season I had, I didn’t want to give it up.”
Although he decided not to play basketball for his first year of college, he could not stay away from the game for too long. The chance to play with his brother again, matched with his pure love for the game were two key factors for Mark coming back to play on the court.
“I already knew the team, so it was easy to fit in with them.” Mark said.
Ever since Mark has returned, he and Frank have had the chance to play together once again. Through playing one-on-one, shooting, or talking about basketball, the Bozicevic brothers keep improving their skills on the court through their relationship.
“Playing with Frank,” Mark said, “we’ll go at each other in practice, I find myself guarding him a lot.”
“We get into arguments a decent amount, just about how I think I’m tougher on him.” Frank added. “We want the best for each other.”
Unlike the Bozicevic brothers, Brennan and Sean Smith never played together in high school, which means this season is particularly special. This is the first time the Smith brothers have played on the same team together.
“The biggest reason that I came here was the opportunity to play with him because we’ve never had the opportunity,” Sean said. “We wanted to come here together.”
Before this basketball season, however, the Smith brothers had gone through difficult circumstances in order to get to where they are now.
Brennan missed the entire 2017-18 season do to a severe knee injury. During that time, Sean said that Brennan came home to recover. They lifted, worked out and shot in order help Brennan recover from his injury, which was a time of growth in their relationship.
“I think we got closer in that year,” Sean said.
Not long after, Sean tore his MCL during his sophomore year of high school, and the roles were reversed, with Brennan helping Sean in the recovery process.
Due to Brennan’s injury, this year, he has to stay an extra semester in order to graduate and play basketball.
Brennan is glad he stuck around for the extra semester, and said he’s finally having the chance to play next to his brother.
As seniors, Frank and Brennan have learned to step up as leaders for the younger players on and off the court, and strive to be an example to their younger brothers, who they hope will succeed them one day.
“I think Mark’s my closest friend,” Frank said, “even as him being my brother, I’d say he’s the closest person in my life.”