Freshman Will Lowry actively stands against one side of his backyard, shuffling his feet left and right, ready to jump at any soccer ball that comes flying his way. He is not about to let his senior brother Collyn win this round of “goalie wars,” but at the other end of the yard behind their house, Collyn is thinking the exact same thing. As Collyn winds up to take a shot on Will, Will swiftly throws his body left to save the ball.
“Hey wait, [that ball] rolled past the line,” Collyn exclaimed.
“No it didn’t,” Will replied. “I definitely saved that one.”
Unlike most players on the JV and Varsity soccer teams, Will and Collyn each have a built-in source of motivation — each other. Both Lowry brothers play goalie, and through this similarity have learned new soccer skills from each other, while also enhancing their friendly competition.
“I’ve learned how to communicate more from watching Collyn play,” Will explained. “[Collyn’s] always been big into telling the defense exactly where to be [during games].”
According to their mom, Amanda Lowry, the boys have always tried to be the better wakeboarder, skier and ball player. Once the boys started goalie training together, their competition grew to be more supportive.
“They each can understand how the other one feels when faced with something stressful like penalty kicks,” Amanda said. “[My husband and I] love hearing them cheer each other on the sidelines.”
Throughout their summer training, Collyn and Will were always paired against each other in practice; their coach Andy Gruenebaum liked the idea of using their sense of competition to his advantage. The boys would leave practice drenched in sweat from all of the racing back and forth trying to get to the ball before the other to punt it.
“One time we both started sprinting at the ball and I was planning on trying to kick the ball, but Collyn got there a little before, and he just totally slide tackled me,” Will said laughing.
Despite the competitive edges during practice, the brothers still enjoy getting to share Gatorades and rides home after a 3-hour long workout. Their teammates and coaches also help ensure that their rivalry never goes farther than just friendly competition by not constantly comparing them to one another— they each have different playing styles. Collyn is more conservative and doesn’t like to go too far out of the goalie box, whereas Will likes to play up and clear more balls.
“No, it’s not scary to just go out and punt a ball,” Will said.
“Ha, well it’s not scary until he messes up,” Collyn replied.
For the first time, the Lowry brothers played against each other in a real match, not just their back-yard championships: the annual Black and Blue scrimmage on Aug. 25. Their parents were snapping pictures of Will and Collyn standing by each other during the National Anthem, and all of their teammates were hollering phrases such as “Ohhh Collyn, is your little brother going to beat you?” For the brothers though, the main difference in the game was they were able to look down the field and see one another tucked in the opposite goals.
“Our expectation is that the competition is supportive of each other,” Amanda Lowry said. “We want them to push each other to be better on and off the field.”
Although the brothers are always eager for some sort of competition, they both agree that playing on the same team and the same position has brought them closer together. Collyn is able to learn more about JV and they both have someone to bond with after rough practices on car rides home.
“Having Will around now is like having a built-in friend,” Collyn said. “Except he just doesn’t go away.”