“Maryland is losing this game right now!” he calls out, taunting his opponents — his mommy and his twin brother, Markus.
Mommy is Brenda Frese, Maryland’s head women’s basketball coach, and such talk — in her own house! — is an outrage, especially with a potentially season-defining game against Duke just a few days away.
“Who’s been putting these things in your head?” she says with a tone of motherly concern. When Tyler doesn’t answer, she decides she has to tickle it out of him, and suddenly they’re on the floor, giggling and rolling.
Moments later, when Tyler has taken the worst of an inadvertent head-bump with his brother – “Ouchie! It hurts so bad!” — he collapses into her arms on the couch, those arms being the most comforting place he has known during his fight against cancer, and she smothers him with kisses.
“Remember, Tyler,” she whispers to him, “part of sports is being tough.”
In these moments, nothing else matters to Frese, 41. Neither her day job nor her son’s dire diagnosis – acute lymphoblastic leukemia, discovered 17 months ago – can intrude. And if they invade her mind even for a moment, they are whisked away in the dust storm of chaos kicked up by twin 4-year-old tornadoes.
Here, at the end of another day in the life of Brenda Frese and her family — husband Mark Thomas, and their twin boys Markus and Tyler Thomas — everything, even Tyler’s sudden defection to the blue-clad enemy, feels perfect, really.
‘I need you to pull over’
She was in Indiana, on a recruiting trip. He was back home with the boys.
This was the arrangement they had agreed to from the start — Brenda keeping her high-profile, high-salaried job, with all its inherent pressures and travel commitments, and Mark ditching his career as a TV sports producer and reporter (they had met when he interviewed her as part of a season-long documentary called “Under the Shell”) to be a stay-at-home dad. Despite his creeping feelings of emasculation and her maternal guilt over being gone so much, by this point, two and a half years into their parenthood, they had settled into a nice rhythm.