New Yorkers rising up together to meet unprecedented challenges is in the fabric of this great city.
Through the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen countless examples of the community-minded selflessness and resilience associated with New York City and we’ve been inspired by those who have raised a hand and stepped up to help their fellow citizens.
In this spirit, we are setting out to reflect what’s truly undeNYable about our city and the people who make up our extended NYCFC family, all doing whatever it takes today to be back together again tomorrow through the sport we love.
undeNYable is a series of stories here on NYCFC.com, holding up members of the NYCFC family who’ve shown the meaning of "For The City", coming through for their fellow New Yorkers when it has mattered most.
Joe Brosi has been a supporter of New York City Football Club since the Club’s inaugural 2015 season. The Queens native is a Battalion Chief for the New York City Fire Department and represents the FDNY Soccer Club as a former player turned coach.
Growing up, Joe began playing soccer at age five and continued playing through college and onto the amateur level. He always thought he would pursue soccer professionally, but his path changed after taking the exams to join the FDNY. “I took the fire department test and I was encouraged by my college coach to pursue it.” He added, “I was lucky enough to be hired and continue to be involved in soccer and do something that I love and that I’m passionate about. I get great joy from being a part of the fire department.”
Joe is a member and founding partner of the Third Rail, the official independent supporters’ group for NYCFC. As a fan of the game, he knew he wanted to be involved with a Club in his city. “They're a city team. They represent New York as we do.” Joe bought two season tickets for him and his daughter, passing the love of the game onto her. “Prior to being a New York City FC fan, she refused to play soccer,” He continued, “After a season of watching the games in the stadium, she actually converted. I was able to get her to join a soccer team. So, for me, it was everything that I wanted it to be.”
In addition to his personal connection with NYCFC, Joe and the FDNY have established a good relationship with the club, participating in New York City Soccer Initiative mini-pitch unveilings, hosting soccer clinics, and playing in the Local Ford Classic for charity. “I'd like to consider us to be part of that whole New York City FC family,” he adds.
As a firefighter, crisis is something Joe is familiar but the COVID-19 pandemic has been unlike anything else he has experienced. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredible challenge for all the citizens of New York City.” He explained that while the pandemic took the FDNY off the soccer pitch, firefighters were still out on the frontlines every day doing their jobs. “They were on fire trucks every day, and they were responding to medical calls over and over, trying to serve the communities that they work in.”
He recalled scenes of firefighters standing outside of the hospitals to join in for the nightly 7PM applause New Yorkers would give doctors and nurses that could be heard all throughout the city. “This was a very tough time for a lot of people in the city. And we were just a small part of that response. And that's still going on, every day as we learn to live in this new environment.”
While his fellow firefighters all had different experiences with the mental and physical impacts the pandemic has had on them, soccer was able to be an outlet when it became safe to play. “I think soccer gives them a great outlet, an opportunity to get together and share some of that stress and experience with each other, and to let off a little bit of steam or stress on the field.” He continued, “It's great to see them out. They're really enjoying themselves and smiling and having fun and keeping everything into perspective.”
When you think of firefighters, you think of bravery. But Joe jokes, “If you ask them, they would say bravery is getting on the soccer field at 45 years old and playing in an open division.” On a serious note, he adds for firefighters it’s simply their calling to serve. “I don’t think any of the guys that we play with or that represent us consider themselves to be brave. I think that this is a calling that they have to serve… They take great pride in being able to serve the communities that they work in.”
The FDNY soccer team was established in 1967 and Joe is nearing his 30th year coaching. Over the years, he has seen multiple generations of players come through the team both alumni or retired firefighters who continue to attend games and support them. The friendships and relationships made are lifelong and his hope is to continue to serve the members of his department for a long time. “I hope that we keep our place in the community and that we’re a big part of the soccer fabric of New York City. I hope that we continue to have our relationship with New York City FC, Major League Soccer, US Soccer, and everybody else that’s such a strong part of this soccer community that we have here.”