Brotherhood of champions

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Prasham Jobanputra

The Stewart family on senior night as Ryan Stewart (middle) and Jamie Stewart (right) have their senior ceremony, with younger brother Alex Stewart (left bottom row) walking with them.

TOWAMENCIN There were a lot of tight relationships on the boys soccer team this year as most of the players have known each other since they were young; however, three of them have, well… pretty much never known life without each other.

Alex, Jamie, and Ryan Stewart are more than just teammates and state champions, they’re brothers.

The youngest brother, sophomore Alex, can be described as “a jokester.”

“He’s fun to be around, but to an extent because sometimes he takes things a little too far, gets a little annoying, but overall he’s funny, easy to get along with, and when you’re out having fun with him it’s a good time.”  Ryan then continued saying, “I mean, he’s definitely a funny kid, and he knows how to get on people’s nerves for sure. He can use that for good or for bad, and sometimes he uses that on me, but that’s okay.”

Then there’s senior Ryan Stewart, who’s almost like the big bully of the three.

“Ryan’s kind of a bully, which at home it hurts,” Alex jokingly said, “but when we’re playing sports on the same team, it’s fun to watch him bully others when it’s not yourself.  He’s just a really physical guy.”  Jamie continued saying, “He’s physical and, sometimes at home, a little too physical around Alex, he can’t beat me up, but on the field, he’ll always stick up for you. He always voices his opinion quite clearly and he’s a great teammate to have.”

For senior Jamie Stewart, he can be viewed as the leader of the trio.

“He’s a really good leader on the team.  At practices, he was the one to make everyone get on the same page and make sure everyone is working hard enough and at home, he’s kinda doing the same thing. He’s still a bit of a bully at home, same as Ryan, but it shows on the field when he’s putting his shoulder into someone else and making sure no one is hurting our team and backing up his teammates,” Alex explained.

“At home, he’ll always tell me what I’m doing wrong and go against me in a lot of things, but when we’re on the same team, he never hesitates to stand up for anyone who’s playing with him. He’s always the first one to stand up for somebody who’s getting into a fight or something.  He’ll always be there,” added Ryan.

Prasham Jobanputra
The twins, Ryan (left) and Jamie (right).

Jamie and Ryan are identical twins and have grown up being in the same classes, teams and friend groups. Being twins is a big advantage on the field as they have built strong chemistry, but it also helps off the soccer field as well.

Jamie said, “In high school, we haven’t really taken the same path.  We don’t have as many classes together anymore, but growing up in elementary and middle school, he was always around, and it was just really nice having someone you can talk to,” before Ryan added, “and tutor you,” as the two shared a laugh.

With Jamie and Ryan being the same age, that left Alex with two role models to look up to.

“They’ve been great role models. I take the same classes they took, so they can help me at home with the work I’m struggling with.  When we’re at home, we play around a lot, and the competitiveness off the field kind of helps us on the field with succeeding,” Alex explained.

Jamie and Ryan made the JV soccer team as freshman and then became starters at the varsity level as sophomores.  Ryan plays multiple positions but usually finds himself in the left-wing, while Jamie plays center mid or center back. This year, both of them got to be captains for the Knights.

“I feel like it didn’t really matter, anyone could have been a captain, but we were all just in it together, and we were all just brothers the whole time,” Ryan said on being selected as a captain.

For Alex, he actually did not play soccer at Pennbrook Middle School.  Instead, he played football.

“When I decided to play football in seventh grade, I knew the soccer team was coed.  I knew it wasn’t that competitive, so I didn’t really think it would make me a better player, but I always liked watching football and playing in the yard, so I was like why not try. It got me to be a more strong and physical soccer player when I reached high school,” Alex, who played wide receiver, explained.  “We didn’t really pass the ball that much. I got one reception in two years, which was a touchdown, but the conditioning and practicing every day kept me working,” Alex said with a smile.

In 9th grade, Alex, who plays center mid, made the JV soccer team as a freshman. Jump ahead one year later, Alex was coming off the bench for a state championship soccer team as a sophomore.

“Once I got on the varsity team, I was really excited. I knew I wasn’t going to get as much playing time, but they were telling me that any moment I got on the field, to give it my all.  So, they helped me a lot with that,” Alex said.

Soccer is easily the Stewarts’ best sport, but far from their only sport.  At some level, they have played baseball, basketball, and lacrosse along with running track.  Jamie and Ryan made the high school JV volleyball team as freshmen.

“We were bored after the winter season. We got cut from basketball, so we were just at home a lot in the winter of freshman year.  So, we were just going to try out for a team in the spring, and for me, it was deciding between tennis or volleyball because I did not want to run track because it’s too much effort.  I liked playing volleyball in gym class, so I decided to go for it, and I made JV and it’s been really fun from there,” Jamie explained.

Marissa Werner
Ryan Stewart in action on the volleyball court.

They then played as swing players during their sophomore year before being full-time varsity players last year for the volleyball squad. The athletic versatility is tremendous for the trio, and some of it might come from genes.

“Our dad played football. He grew up in Ohio and football is big there. He went on and played in college at Wittenburg, and then he quit and transferred to Ohio State, but our mom actually didn’t do any athletics; she was more into academics.  She played tennis for one year in high school,” Jamie explained.

“Because there were no cuts,” Ryan added said with a laugh.

The North Penn student body sees the Stewarts brothers interact in the hallways and on the field, but what is it like at home?

“We’re always competing at different things even if it’s not sports.  Like I’m gonna beat you at something else like I’m going to beat you up the stairs, and if I don’t I’m going to push you down the stairs,” Ryan jokingly said.

A good example of this is outside in their driveway where the basketball net is.

“Ever since we were little, we’ve had a basketball net in the driveway, and we’ve always gone out there and played basketball with each other, and we continue to do that today and it’s something we do when we’re all bored; we can just go out and play basketball and have a good time,” Jamie described.

When asked who usually wins, Alex immediately responded saying, “me,” which was quickly shot down by the older two.

Ryan stated, “Alex never wins, for the record,” and Jamie added “he hasn’t won this year I think,” as the three joked around. So, the king of the court at the Stewart driveway will remain a mystery.

The Stewart trio has made a lot of memories and experienced a lot together, but no moments that stick out more than the state championship this year. But, there will a little bit of misfortune. During the state playoffs, Jamie developed an illness that turned out to be mononucleosis. Jamie played through it for a couple games, but as the symptoms got worse, he ended up having to sit out from the state title game and did not travel with the team to Hershey. When the bus arrived at North Penn High after the championship game, Jamie walked through the bus doors to celebrate with his teammates.  The state championship trophy found its way to the Stewart household for that weekend.

“Even though Jamie wasn’t there, the amount of leadership he put in the whole year just reflected on the performance we had in the championship game even with him not there.  So, when we got back home and we brought the trophy home to our house, all three of us were just really psyched that we won,” Alex said.

Prasham Jobanputra
Alex(top left), Ryan (top right) and Jamie (bottom) were all a part of the soccer team that won the state championship this year.

“Being at home, it was great watching them [win], but not being on the field, it takes something away from it I guess, but all the joy and all the work I put in just showed on that night even though I wasn’t there,” Jamie said.

“It was just like, we finally did it after the last few years where we weren’t even making it through districts.  It was just like we finally came together, and we did it for not just our team, but for all the other North Penn players that were watching,” Ryan explained.

With Jamie and Ryan graduating this year, some of the pressure will fall on Alex to help the Knights follow up an incredible season.

“There’s no doubt we’ll be better next year. I’m not making any promises, but I think we’ll be pretty good next year too, and the people that were on the team this year that are going to play next year, they’ll have the championship under their belt, and we’ll be fueled to be good next year too,” Alex stated.

The end of their childhood is nearing for the two seniors, but the memories they have made along with their youngest brother will last a lifetime.

“It’s going to be different next year when they’re gone.  It’s going to be sad because I’ll have no one to hang out with,” Alex said.

“Growing up with these kids, it’s just been great. All the times, just like a trip to Wawa or going to get milkshakes with Alex and Ryan, it’s just always been a fun time growing up with them. I couldn’t imagine growing up with anyone else,” Jamie said.