January 31, 2024
• The business owner and soccer coach joined a distinct class of Needhamites, receiving this year’s Patrick and Patricia Forde Good Person Memorial Award.
Soccer consumes the Brownridge household, for better or for worse. It means dinners are often taken to-go, as patriarch Dan and his three boys bounce from practice to practice, wife and mother Jen Brownridge said.
But amid that busy schedule, Dan Brownridge squeezes in lots of good deeds. A youth soccer coach and business owner with a penchant for community service, he makes it his mission to inspire young soccer players to love the sport and have fun playing it.
For his Needham teams, he hands out index cards and asks players to write each other compliments, his wife said, which is indicative of both his coaching style and his positive nature.
Monday night, Needham handed their own metaphorical index cards back to Dan Brownridge, who in their eyes is a certified Good Person.
Brownridge received the Patrick and Patricia Forde Good Person Memorial Award, an annual honor gifted to Needham residents who have improved the lives of those around them, particularly local youth. The tradition is organized by Needham Youth and Family Services.
Surrounded by young athletes, fellow coaches, loved ones and other residents at Powers Hall Monday night, Brownridge expressed his gratitude.
“It feels a little weird to receive an award for something I love doing,” he said.
Brownridge co-owns Joint Ventures Physical Therapy, which boasts 11 locations in Massachusetts, and Mass Athlete Performance, which offers camps, clinics, private training and fitness for local kids. It’s through MAP’s Passback Program that Brownridge ensures kids across the globe develop the same passion for soccer as Needham kids.
With help from other Needhamites, Brownridge donates used soccer equipment to orphanages and schools in Antigua and Uganda.
“It’s amazing. We get these incredible videos back of these kids that have never had uniforms or cleats or even shoes a lot of times,” Brownridge said in an interview. “To actually be wearing the Needham gear and even local Wellesley gear playing in different games, it’s incredible.”
Brownridge also brought the Holiday Dreams Foundation to Needham, supplying gifts for families who may not be able to afford them.
His commitment to service is something Brownridge aims to pass onto the kids he coaches as well as his sons Landon, Carson and Wesley, aged 10-17. Showing them the impact of their actions is just as important as the game itself, Brownridge said, and they’ve gotten involved in collecting soccer gear and participating in donation drives.
A running theme in Brownridge’s work and free time, evidently, is youth and sports.
“There is nothing better than coaching the kids,” Brownridge said. “I absolutely love working with them and getting involved with them in the community.”
Steve Gladstone coached their boys’ travel soccer team with Brownridge for several years. The two friends started as coaches on separate teams, and Gladstone recalls seeing Brownridge on the sidelines at matches before joining forces to coach the Needham Crew.
Gladstone said Brownridge is the type of person who just “can’t sit still.”
“I was always so impressed because he’d be running from practice to practice to practice, but then he also runs two businesses and is very involved in a lot of different charities and also keeps himself in phenomenal shape and has three kids and a wife,” Gladstone said in an interview. “I was just always amazed at how he could fit everything that he fit into a day and be involved in such a positive way in the community.”
Gladstone first nominated Brownridge for the Good Person Award two years ago and again last year, when the award went to Jean Higgins. “Third time’s the charm,” he said.
“I think the lesson we can take from that is that either Needham ran out of good people and you were all that was left,” Gladstone said in a speech, “or you were the third best person in Needham.”
The ceremony was full of admiration for Brownridge and some light ribbing — after it was announced as the award recipient, Gladstone said Brownridge sent him an email with the subject line “I’m amazing.”
In a video montage, Assistant Coach Andy Apstein poked fun at Brownridge’s “tight t-shirts.” His wife Jen held him accountable.
“And just so you know, don’t think you can keep using winning this award as your get-out-of-jail pass here at home with the kids and I,” she said. “The good person of Needham still has to walk the dog and empty the dishwasher.”
Started in 2006, the Good Person Award is given out in memory of Patrick and Patricia Forde and their efforts to support Needham families and children. Their daughter Ashley Pohlman spoke on behalf of her parents and their legacy.
Pohlman and her siblings met with Brownridge to learn about his impact on Needham, and while reading Brownridge’s write-up to her children prior to the ceremony, Pohlman said her daughter interjected.
“My five-year-old stopped me and said, ‘Mom, he has two jobs, and he still helps people?’” Pohlman said. “Her statement stuck with me. Dan is intentionally choosing to do good despite how busy his life is.”
Rep. Denise Garlick, who knew the Fordes, presented Brownridge with a citation on behalf of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. To her, it all starts at the individual level.
“Good people make for a good community. A good community makes for a good state. A good state makes for a great nation,” Garlick said. “All of your work, all of your energy, all of your contributions make a difference in ways that we can see and ways we will never know, and we are grateful for all of it.”
Through every message — whether it from fellow coaching staff, current and former players, charity partners and his own family — it became clear: Brownridge shows up.
“Coach Dan has always been a favorite coach of mine because of the way he kept the team not only fun, but kept us organized and made the team environment a place that made me look forward to practices and games with the Crew,” player Dean Ezzat said. “And even when the refs weren’t on our side, he still managed to teach us sportsmanship.”
“Needham is so lucky to have someone like you in our town and our lives,” Jen Brownridge said. “There’s no wonder why you were chosen to win this award. Nice work, coach.”
Watch Dan Brownridge’s acceptance speech below: