For the Embury brothers—Hunter, Jamison, and William—two women, their mother and grandmother, have been the most important figures in their lives.
Grandmother Anna J. Freyer (left) and mother Darlene (right)
The Embury brothers grew up in Yorktown Heights, NY, with their sister AnnaAlexa being the oldest sibling out of the four.
The Embury brothers and their sister AnnaAlexa
At a very young age, their father left their mother, Darlene, which meant it was her looking after the four children. Then while the twins were in fifth grade, their grandma, Anna J. Freyer started living together with the family.
“My mom would always work like a dog to support us because that’s pretty much all we had was the florist. So I think they really were role models in that way of not only caring for us and being loyal and all that, but just working hard because that was the expectation– that’s what had to happen,” said Jamison.
Freyer’s Florist and Greenhouse was founded by their grandparents 65 years ago. For several years, their mother made delivery after delivery, often leaving the children home alone. Their grandma helped make bouquets at the florist. “You’re Golden,” “Tropical Punch,” and many more uniquely-named bouquets are sold as well as flowers for all walks of life– graduations, weddings, and more.
Their dedication and loyalty to their florist and the family taught the brothers how to work equally as hard, if not harder. Coming back from school, they couldn’t do anything until they finished their homework.
“For school, my mom would always do mental math with us. She would ask us rapid questions, ‘What’s four times eight? What’s eight plus six plus 16 minus four?’ She would continue to do that, and it got us really good… I think that the way that we were raised really helped us focus on the important things in life, especially our schoolwork, and that’s really helped us as students,” said Jamison.
Eventually, they turned schoolwork into a competition, just as they did with everything else. They made doorways goals, made every empty water bottle a ball, and occasionally broke things.
Because of the chaos the brothers created inside the house, their mom and grandma came up with an idea that planted the seed for the trio’s love of lacrosse: lacrosse sticks in Easter baskets.
“I think we were in kindergarten or it was before first grade…we got our first Easter lacrosse sticks in our Easter basket. So we get an Easter basket with candy and maybe one gift every year, and our one gift that year was lacrosse sticks. I remember playing lacrosse for pretty much the rest of the day at that point until it got dark,” said Jamison.
Easter for the Embury family, and every holiday, is very important to them. Every year, their mother sets four baskets in four different chairs, but before they can open them, the door is shut and the family must take a picture. It is only after that the siblings can open their baskets.
They would play for hours on end, and fortunately for the Emburys, Yorktown Heights is known as a hotbed for lacrosse. People always went to high school lacrosse games, including the Emburys as they always tried to catch the action on a spring afternoon or night.
“Everyone would go to the games and we were always the water boys for the high school team for years growing up. You wanted to get all your homework done so you could be the first kids to the game to be the waterboys. It almost felt like everything else stopped when there was a high school game. People went there and saw the game,” said Jamison Embury.
They connected with the players and in 2014, they were the waterboys when the team won the state championship. They joined the town’s team, the Yorktown Ballers, where they grew not only with each other but with their teammates.
The Embury brothers in their Yorktown Ballers uniforms
“It was really great. Over the summers, in the falls, we were able to gel together and play together against other travel teams that were made up of kids from all these different high schools. So it was really good for us and challenging, but we were able to compete with the best teams in the country,” said Hunter.
Though the Embury brothers played several years with the Ballers, some of their favorite playing memories come from their grandma.
“She would grab the ball and she’s like, ‘I’m gonna throw one high,’ and then she would throw one high. Then she’s like, ‘I’m gonna throw one low’ and then throw one low. Then she was like, ‘I’m gonna throw one high again,’ and then she would throw one low and we were like, ‘You said you’re gonna throw one high,’ and she’s like, ‘You can’t always expect like it’s gonna be a perfect pass every time or you can’t expect it’s gonna go where it’s supposed to go,’” said Will.
The family also used to go upstate to Cobleskill where their grandma owned a farm as a form of vacation.
The Embury brothers at their grandma’s farm
“Anytime we got to spend a ton of quality time with our grandma, I would say my greatest memories were going upstate to the farm. This was our little getaway, so we had our own little neck of the woods up there, but being able to relax, go fishing, playing lacrosse up there was probably my greatest memory,” said Hunter.
They only strengthened their relationship with their grandma and the rest of the family during the peak of the pandemic as they stayed at home to avoid contracting COVID-19.
“We took it really strict because we lived with grandma. So there was no interacting with anyone outside of the house. We were just hanging out in the backyard and just spending so much time as a family. We had dinner every single night as a family at the table, and that was the highlight of the day, just hanging out, bantering, and being together,” said Jamison.
The Embury family
Togetherness, family, and drive to improve is what brought the three Emburys to Marist’s lacrosse program. A familial culture is something men’s lacrosse head coach Keegan Wilkinson has harped on since taking over in 2011.
The family values of loyalty, dedication, and commitment Wilkinson had in place allowed the Emburys to grow and brought familiarity as their mother and grandma instilled those same values from a very young age. These lessons have translated to the lacrosse field and have allowed them to blossom into the players and people they are now.
In five seasons with the Red Foxes, Jamison and Hunter Embury have each made the All-Academic team three times– Hunter also made the CoSIDA Academic All-District team last season. On the field, Jamison has notched 74 goals and 51 assists for a total of 125 points. Hunter has recorded 40 goals and 30 assists. And in two seasons, younger brother Will has recorded two goals. The numbers and accolades are a testament to who they are as student-athletes.
For the first time in February of this season, the three Emburys were all on the same field together at Jacksonville University, something that never happened when they played in high school.
“Finally reaching our goal of going Division I and all that, but we all dreamed about [it] when we were younger and being on the same field at Division I was a great feeling, a cool full circle moment,” said Will Embury.
This moment was possible because of the people who have nurtured them and helped them grow from a young age: coaches who have pushed them to be the best players and people, friends who have been supportive, teammates who have always had their backs, their sister who has accepted them for who they are despite destroying the house at times, and everyone else in between. But it all stems from the two most powerful women in their lives, their mother and grandmother.
Whether it was not allowing them to drink soda or eat candy, not letting them play video games, yelling at them for messing around, making them do their homework before anything else, or teaching them life lessons, everything they did was for a reason.
As their mom has echoed many times, “Everything happens for a reason.”
Hunter and Jamison are finishing up their master’s degree in business with a concentration in finance. They interned with Morgan Stanley during their undergrad tenure through their connection with former Marist lacrosse player James Taylor. They hope to find a job in wealth management.
Will is majoring in business administration with a concentration in finance, following in his brothers’ footsteps. He hopes to go down a similar route as Hunter and Jamison post graduation.
Though their grandma may not be with us anymore, the Emburys will forever be grateful for her everlasting love, support, and care she showed throughout the many celebrations and challenges of their lives.
“She really went out of her way to give us the best life that she could and teach us about hard work and loyalty and discipline. We’re just so grateful that we got to watch her live such a long, healthy life and that she got to spend as much time with us as she could,” said Hunter Embury.
Photos from Hunter Embury
Edited by Jonathan Kinane and Andrew Hard