Story by Lauren Zadalis ’20 and Anna Feldman ’20, photos by Anna Feldman ‘20

An outburst of laughter and joy filled the soccer field as two puppies chased the soccer ball. Nelson and Riley are Marian Varsity Soccer’s biggest supporters. They attend practices, provide motivation for the girls and bring smiles to their faces. “They are so cute and offer great therapy on stressful days,” junior Abby Vaughan said.

Although they only come to a few events, the girls are able to form a strong bond through the dogs. “It helps us relate to each other by being able to play and enjoy the dogs,” sophomore Kelly Kozol said. “[The dogs] keep our spirits high because they are a great way to relax after practice. I love the smiles and bonding the two dogs bring to the team,” Kozol said.

The adorable yellow lab Nelson belongs to Coach Monica Bosiljevac ’10, a former Marian student and athlete. “I started coaching four years ago at Marian. I used to dog sit for a family with three labs and would bring them to practices for fun,” Coach Bosiljevac said. She adopted Nelson in October, and he has become the official team dog ever since. “He absolutely loves to play soccer. He’ll run right over to the soccer ball when he runs onto the field,” Bosiljevac said.

Marian’s assistant coach, Haley Shelton, recently adopted a German Shepard, Retriever and Husky mix named Riley. Nelson and Riley have become the best of friends and love to make the girls feel happy and relaxed.

“It’s just a carefree thing to add to practice,” Bosiljevac said. The dogs not only bring joy to the players on the field but those injured as well. “I bring Nelson to practices and games depending on our day and schedule. The team managers love to watch him. It’s great to have him there on days when players are injured, because Nelson boosts everyone’s spirit,” she said.