It was a season filled with success and determination as one of Marist’s top athletic programs made a push for a MAAC title. The spark of the winter in Marist athletics, the women’s basketball team, went 26-4 in the regular season only to be robbed of an NCAA tournament appearance due to the tragic outbreak of COVID-19.
But before any of the chaos took the Marist campus by storm, one woman had always been there to support many of the coaches and athletes.
Like any other Saturday evening at Marist College, it was relatively quiet on March 7. On the weekends, lots of students make visits back to their hometown, go to Applebee’s, or go shopping. But there are some who choose to go where the noise is.
These people gravitated towards the ‘Fox Den’ when the women took on the Siena Saints. And by people, I mean fans. I mean superfans like Pat Barassi, who is a local woman that religiously attends Marist College athletic events.
In addition to attending the games, Barassi will typically supply the entire team and scorers’ table with baked goods, including her “world famous brownies,” according to Marist sports commentator, Geoff Brault.
“I’ve done brownies for a long time,” Barassi said, “They go in the back and then they get to the team, and the managers and the coaches and then Geoff and Steve, and then the athletic trainers.”
Barassi has always been looking to take care of everyone and put a smile on their face ever since she started coming to the games over 20 years ago. She has been in attendance long enough where she deserves her own reserved seat, yet she chooses to bounce around McCann to talk to people and immerse herself in the culture of Marist.
As the crowd was roaring and the band was playing ahead of tip off that night, Barassi was simply admiring the fellow fans that stood adjacent to her behind the black guardrails. She was talking to them as if she had known them for several decades, when in reality she lit up the faces of every new person she met. The person I looked to in order to help me point her out was Geoff Brault, who had high praise for her.
“She has been going to games for as long as I can remember,” said Brault, “She’s a great fan and even better person.”
Brault also mentioned that he has tried some of her baked goods for himself, and he approves. “[Pat] always puts chocolate chips inside the brownies, which is always the right move.”
Barassi is originally from New Hampshire, but she moved to Poughkeepsie in 1967 after she graduated from college. She got a teaching job at Arlington high school, where she stayed for over 30 years.
After teaching for so long, she made several connections with her students, one of which has children of their own and comes to Marist games as well.
Chris Davidson is an avid Marist fan and had the New Hampshire native as a teacher in the 1980’s, and he originally started coming to games with his daughter 14 years ago, and continues to attend today with his son, Chris Jr.
“Years ago, Pat was the science teacher at my high school, and I didn’t realize she came to the games until about five years ago” said Davidson, “We always get here early, and there’s been times where she brings us a brownie.”
After getting to talk to her, I discovered that her appreciation for the people at Marist goes deep beyond athletics.
“You walk around this campus and people say hello to you,” said Barassi. “They ask you how you’re doing and it’s not just me that it happens to. It’s a very friendly campus”
Barassi is more than just the brownie lady. She is for the people. To her, being kind and reaching out to people involved in the sports programs is something she enjoys to do. She wants to give back brownies and joy to the people of Marist that have merely given her a, “How are you doing?”
“It’s just what I do,” Barassi said.
But in order to keep doing the things she’s always done, Pat could not buy season tickets, otherwise she would be a booster, which means she cannot have access to the team and get let into the training rooms. Yet Pat still claims the coaches have been generous enough to allow her in, even though everybody has known what she’s all about, and access should be the least of her problems.
“The kids come over for dinner and it’s just something like family.” Barassi said.
Family is something Pat mentioned quite a bit in my conversation, which is a theme that seems to coincide well with Marist athletics. Even people that don’t necessarily interact with Pat regularly consider her apart of the Marist family. For a small campus such as Marist, a tight knit community is an invaluable product of kindness, which Pat helps spread with every game she attends and every person she meets. Or in this case, spreading kindness comes with every person that tries her brownies.
Dean Darling, the man behind the mic of Marist men’s basketball said that, “Although I’ve never interacted with her myself, I know Geoff has told me several times that I need to try one of those chocolate chip brownies.”
Pat doesn’t particularly like to advertise her brownies and her presence in general. But still somehow, some way, people gravitate towards her infectious excitement for the Marist culture and Marist sports.
The legend of Pat Barassi has gotten to the point where virtually everyone waves to her in passing. Whether those people are fans, parents, Marist students, or former Arlington High School students doesn’t matter. Pat brings an unprecedented level of joy and appreciation to Marist sports that goes beyond the baked foods she supplies; she makes the Marist athletic community feel like a family.