posted on: Thursday September 17, 2020
by Jack Belanger ’21
When we see athletes celebrate after winning a championship, it shows us what it looks like to reach the pinnacle of sports. We witness these athletes in their finest moments. What we miss are the struggles and challenges they must endure just to step on the field. For every MVP season, there is a story behind the athlete. Fans hear about the transformation the player makes on the field to become the best at their craft, but what often goes unnoticed are the trials they had to face behind the scenes. In some ways, the trials make those successful seasons more remarkable.
In 2014, the Providence College Men’s Soccer Team had their best season in program history. Not only did the team win its first-ever Big East championship, they also made a run in the national tournament where they made it to the College Cup Semifinal. During the Semifinal, they pushed the University of California, Los Angeles into double overtime but fell short of making the championship, losing 2-3. It was a record-setting year for the team, in large part thanks to the man in the net, Keasel Broome ’14. Broome had his best season with the Friars that year, posting a career-best 1.10 goals against average to go along with eight shutouts. He ended the season being named to the Big East All-Tournament Team and getting picked by the San Jose Earthquakes in the third round of the MLS Draft, not to mention leaving PC with a degree in hand.
The fans who watched Broome in person during the late season run saw one of the best goalkeepers in college soccer doing his job and giving his team a chance to win every game. What many missed is Broome’s journey to become the starting goalkeeper and the challenges he faced during his college career.
Broome came to PC back in 2010 when the Friars still played their games on the grass field outside of Guzman Hall. The two schools who recruited him were PC and Penn State University, but once Broome visited campus, it was clear PC was where he would continue his career.
“I felt right at home,” Broome said. “The coaches made me feel really good. I loved the campus and how it was small.”
Despite being the No. 2 ranked recruit out of Delaware with an opportunity to play right away, Broome did not see any game time during his first two years at PC, taking a redshirt year to get an extra year of eligibility. Even though he did not get to play in a match for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Broome committed himself to work every day during the school year and summer to get ready for the chance to get into the game.
Going into the 2012 season, Broome was primed for the starting goalkeeper spot. Unfortunately, he separated his shoulder during a preseason game, causing him to miss the first game of the season. Just as he worked himself back into the starting spot, Broome pulled his quad in another game. He once again rehabbed and worked back into the starting spot. Broome managed to play in 14 games that season, though he had a 1.42 goals against average and the team only posted a 3-8-2 record in the games he appeared in. Still, Broome had two more seasons at PC and was going to keep improving. It looked like all his hard work would pay off.
That was before he got the text.
In December of 2012, Broome was in Las Vegas with family when he got the text that his father was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver. He immediately locked himself in the bathroom and started to cry. Millions of questions raced through his head.
“Never in a million years did I think someone close to me would be affected by cancer. I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do next.”
Over the course of the next semester he would split his time between living at PC and at home. During the week, he took classes and worked out at PC, then drove five hours home to Delaware on the weekends to spend time with his father. Broome’s schedule was so packed that he was on “auto-pilot” up until spring break.
“There came a point in time I couldn’t sleep anymore. There was too much going on in my head; anger, frustration. I couldn’t sleep naturally.”
While it was tough to see his father sick, Broome learned to be his dad’s biggest support system, just like his dad had been for him.
“It wasn’t easy to watch someone you love struggle, but the thing I kept reminding myself was that if he wasn’t complaining, I’m not complaining.”
Getting to spring break was tough for Broome, who was trying to keep up with his normal schedule as a student-athlete while also taking care of his father. Fortunately, around the break, it was announced that the 2013 Big East Tournament was moved to Philadelphia, a short drive from Broome’s home in Delaware.
Broome’s father had only once seen his son in action for the Friars, and playing near home would have been a special moment for both of them. Broome and his teammates’ new goal was to get to the semifinals that season to give Broome’s father one last chance to see him play.
Sadly that chance never came. In the final weeks of the semester, Broome’s father’s health took a turn for the worse. The cancer had spread aggressively and his blood sugar began to drop. Broome’s family began to make phone calls to friends, family, and former co-workers to have them say their final good-byes. Soon, the hospital room became so packed that his father’s roommate had to be moved in order to accommodate the amount of visitors. Broome’s father passed away shortly after with Broome right at his side.
While Broome was devastated about losing someone so close to him, he focused on the special moments he had with his dad and appreciated the time they spent together. That season, the Friars improved to 12 wins, with Broome starting in 22 matches despite dealing with shoulder injuries. The Friars managed to make it to Philadelphia in the tournament, and Broome’s family made sure to pack the stands. That night Broome played one of his best games, leading PC to a 1-0 win over Georgetown University in penalty kicks to head to the finals. From the moment he stepped onto the field, he knew that it was going to be a special night.
“That night I felt him [my dad] with me. I felt his presence next to me protecting the net.”
After his breakout season, Broome continued to push himself. He spent more time at PC during the summer to get better. Everything came together for him and the Friars in 2014. It was a monumental season that changed the direction of the College’s soccer program.
After getting drafted, Broome bounced around several American soccer teams in hopes of eventually making it to the MLS. Even though he was drafted by San Jose, Broome made his professional debut for the Harrisburg City Islanders in 2016. Unfortunately, injuries began to pile up and he struggled to stick with any team. His last appearance was in 2017 in a game for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the United Soccer League.
In June of 2015, Broome made his debut for the Barbados National Team, shutting out Aruba in a World Cup qualifying match. Since his father was of Barbadian heritage, Broome was able to apply for citizenship and represent his family on the big stage. Playing for a national team gave him the opportunity to travel the world and play against some of the greatest soccer players. One of his favorite memories playing for the team was traveling to El Salvador and playing in front of 40,000 passionate fans.
Now, Broome has a job in sales and continues to coach on the side. His newest endeavor is making his own podcast called “Keepin’ It Real w/ Keasel.” With each new episode, he shares his life experiences in hopes that his experience can help people get through struggles similar to those he faced. Some of his themes include: dealing with adversity in sports, relationships, picking the right college, and being thankful for the things we have in life.
“Over the past couple years, whenever I got together with my friends I could talk about any topic for hours. My friends told me I should become a motivational speaker or start my own podcast.”
Since he has gotten plenty of positive feedback, Broome is not worried about the direction of where the podcast is heading in the future. His goals may be different from when he was in college, having shifted from running goalkeeper reaction drills to working on building his professional network, but no matter what the goal, Broome has the resilience to tackle any obstacle in his path.