Andrews siblings display their athletic prowess at Brentwood
If you've ever attended a Brentwood High School sporting event in the last few years, chances are pretty good that one of the Andrews was taking part in the game.
Mike, a senior, and Natalie, a sophomore, have combined to earn 14 varsity letters over their high school careers, and have participate in a different sport every season.
“Coming from a Class A school we have to have that,” Kevin Kissel, Brentwood's head football coach, said. “All our best athletes play our best sports ... it takes a lot to do that.”
Mike, who is leaning toward attending Pitt-Johnstown next year, earned nine varsity letters over the past four seasons. He said his favorite sport is football, in which he was a four-year letterman.
Mike was a three-year starter and a two-time All-Black Hills Conference selection at defensive end, and led the team in sacks during his junior season. Also making some key catches at wide receiver, Mike helped to lead the Spartans to a 7-4 record and a WPIAL Class A quarterfinal appearance last fall.
While Mike was playing football in the fall, Natalie plays soccer. A defender, Natalie plays on the boys' team since Brentwood does not have a girls' soccer program.
While that might shy some girls away from playing, Natalie has embraced the challenge of competing against boys from a young age, and played a part in the program's first-ever WPIAL playoff appearance during the 2011 season.
“I've always played soccer with boys ever since I was four,” Natalie said. “I started out playing with boys, and I never really stopped.”
The Andrews siblings grew up playing sports together around the house and in the yard. While they started out competing in only a couple sports, their interests changed over the years.
“When we were younger, we both just played soccer and baseball and softball,” Mike said. “Then we both started playing basketball and (Natalie) kind of went more in the softball direction. I kind of stuck with basketball and football. But we both started out with soccer.”
“We used to play baseball in our backyard, and I used to catch the football with (Mike),” Natalie said. “We also used to play soccer.”
During the winter months, Natalie spent one season in the Brentwood swimming program and the other playing basketball, while Mike spent three seasons lettering for the boys' basketball team.
A guard/forward, Mike helped to lead Brentwood to a 14-11 record and appearances in the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs.
While Mike might not be the most vocal of teammates, his ability to lead is evident through his actions during practices and games.
“Mike is a pretty unique kind of guy,” Kissel said. “He was a good player for us; he was all-conference two years in a row. He was a leader; he was a different kind of leader. He was a very quiet guy; he didn't say much. But when he did, people listened to him because he really led by his actions on the field.”
After basketball season, Mike transitioned into track and field, where he specialized in the javelin throw. With a personal-record toss of 147 feet this season, he fell just short of advancing to the WPIAL individual championships.
Meanwhile, Natalie competes in softball in the spring. She plays both third base and in right field for the Lady Spartans, who tied for second place in Section 4-AA, advanced to the WPIAL playoffs, and ended up 9-5 overall.
Only being two years apart, Natalie said her brother being in the same school building as her certainly lent itself to their competitive natures, as they tried harder to outshine one another on the field or the court.
“She's definitely competitive with me as we were when we were younger,” he said. “We kind of both want to do better at our sports to kind of be ahead of each other.”
But while they are competitive, they are there to support one another.
Natalie said she sometimes had to pick what practice she would miss in order to watch Mike play.
And while Mike will be away at college next year, he plans to return home to watch his younger sister's games.
“I'm definitely going to come back to Brentwood, and try to come to some sporting events whenever I'm home,” he said.
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.