Friendship proves more important than titles

When Marirose Roach joined the Buyers Tires and AutoCure women’s flag football team, she changed the team on and off the field.

Stu Beyer celebrates after his team won the football championship. SUPPLIED PHOTO

Stu Beyer remembers the first time he saw his star player come out for the team.

About 10 years ago, Beyer, the coach for the Buyers Tires and AutoCure women’s flag football and softball teams, was holding a tryout for football players when Marirose Roach walked on the field at Tarken Playground.

“She was such a tremendous athlete,” Beyer recalled. “She was so fast, she was just catching everything, she was the fastest person out there. I could tell right away she was a great player, but I didn’t know she would be such a great player for us for so long.”

He didn’t know it at the time, but Beyer wasn’t a typical weekend warrior who was looking to join a team. She was a highly skilled athlete who had quite an athletic resume.

The Connecticut native moved to Philadelphia when she was a two-sport star at Temple University, competing on the Owls’ soccer and track and field teams. She then went on to star in the Legends Football League, a full-tackle football league that was previously known as the Lingerie Football League.

A member of the Philadelphia Liberty Belles, she was arguably one of the best players in league history, earning a spot in the league’s hall of fame.

Beyer got a player.

Both Beyer and Roach got much more.

“He is definitely like a father figure to me, he cares so much about me and all the players,” said Roach, who plays on the Buyers Tires and AutoCure football and softball squads. “He cares about all of us. I don’t think anyone wants to win more than he does, but he cares about us more than he cares about winning. When I started playing here, I had no idea it would lead to such great friendships.”

“Everybody wants to win, but the relationships we’ve made has been the greatest thing about being involved in these leagues,” said Beyer, whose wife Wendy competes on the teams. “It’s definitely a family. We’re all in it together, and while it’s nice to win, what’s more important is that we all have fun.”

If winning makes it better, the Buyers Tires squad just finished a perfect season that culminated with a 24–20 victory over Polonia at Ramp Playground.

“We have a great team, but we don’t always win, and as you can see by the score, the games are very competitive,” Beyer said. “I’m happy that we won because it shows all the hard work the team puts in.”

While Roach may be one of the best players in the league, Beyer is just as proud of one of the league veterans, his wife Wendy.

Beyer, 56, competes in an over-45 men’s basketball league. His wife doesn’t have the luxury of playing in a league of people her age, so she plays for Buyers Tires.

She doesn’t just compete, she excels.

“Wendy is a great player because she’s been great for so long,” Beyer said. “When I’m playing, I still love to compete and I played sports at Northeast (High School), but when I’m playing basketball, the guys I’m playing with are older guys like me. My wife is going up against women who are much younger, and she’s great.”

She also has the endorsement of Roach.

“Stu is like a father figure and Wendy is like a mom,” Roach said. “My mom isn’t around here, so whenever I need something, I just turn to Wendy. She’s a great teammate and a great friend. And she’s still a great player.”

Buyers Tires has given Roach more than great friends and a chance to continue her athletic career.

When she’s not catching touchdown passes or blasting home runs, she’s starring as a partner with Roach & Leite, her law firm that has an office at 6950 Castor Ave.

Being a lawyer can be quite stressful, so Roach is happy she has a place where she can blow off steam.

“I’ve been playing sports throughout law school and since I’ve been practicing,” said Roach, who attended law school at Temple. “I think it’s very important to have a place where you can get away from work, and for me it’s sports. I love it because athletics has everything for me. Playing for these teams has been so important for me, not just because I love to play sports but because it’s given me so much.”

That’s exactly why Beyer stays involved.

When he first began coaching the teams 15 years ago, the team was sponsored by local bars. Almost immediately, he realized he wanted to fund the teams.

“When you’re sponsored by a bar, they’ll expect you to go to the place after the games, and I wanted (the players) to just have fun by playing,” Beyer said. “So I just decided to cover it through the business. That way, if they want to go out, they can, but if they don’t, they don’t have to. They can just play and have fun.”

Now he’s hoping more sign up to compete, especially in football.

According to Beyer, the league previously had three divisions, but now it’s left with just one.

“There’s just not the numbers we used to have,” said Beyer, who has coached his squads to six football championships since 2007 and five softball crowns since 2005. “We’d love to have more players because then the league gets stronger.

“Winning is great, but that’s not why I do it. I like to win, but just being around the teams makes it fun.”

For more information, or to sign up as a team or an individual for one of the leagues, call Beyer at 215–983–1586 or Tarken Recreation at 215–685–1226.