SPECIAL FEATURE (Sept. 20, 2017) - In 11 years of athletics, several siblings have played on the same team at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU). A set of twins played on the women's soccer team – Daniela and Gabriela Colina from 2013-2016. Another set of twins ran two years on the women's cross-country team before one transferred to another school her junior year – Gabriela and Valeria Guerrero. OLLU also had siblings playing on the softball team in 2013 and 2014 – Kassandra and Julie Ramos and on the women's basketball team in 2015-2016 – Shameka and LaQeisha Brown.
This season, however, marks the first time two sets of siblings are playing on the same team and it couldn't be more appropriate for that team to be men's soccer. They, along with volleyball, were the first teams to begin athletics at OLLU in 2007.
Seniors Luis Sanchez (JR/San Antonio, Texas) and team captain A.J. Gonzalez (SR/Harlingen, Texas) welcomed their brothers Miguel Sanchez (FR/San Antonio, Texas) and Joel Gonzalez (JR/Harlingen, Texas) to the team this fall.
A.J. calls it a blessing. "Ever since we were young, we grew up playing soccer together, and the one thing we never got to do was play high school soccer together, so it's cool to share the field with my brother here at OLLU."
Joel says, "I never thought this day would come for us to play together, it's definitely a blessing, and it's pretty cool."
According to Luis, this is the second time he plays on the same team with his brother. "In high school, I was a senior, and he was a freshman, the same way it is now. It's pretty cool; he gets to learn from me. Everything he's doing, I've done and been there, so I'm glad to show him around at school. It's good to have my brother around."
Miguel agrees. "He shows me what is good and bad, what I can do better on the field and off the field."
Luis and Miguel are from San Antonio, and they said their parents are very happy to have them at OLLU. "It was their goal for us to be together in college. My mom is always out there taking pictures of us at the games."
A.J. and Joel are from the Harlingen, Texas - their parents try to make it to San Antonio or they watch on the live streaming broadcast. "It's a four-hour drive, so it's not as easy for them to come watch us, but they do watch on their computer. My mom will send us snapchats of us playing. But having both of us here [in San Antonio] gives them a better excuse to come here than just having one of us here."
A.J. actually played on the Saints team in 2011 and 2012, then left. He returned last season and he is playing his final year. Joel said, "I was always a little jealous of him when he was here, so I've always wanted to come here and follow in his footsteps. It's been good so far."
Joel and A.J. are not roommates on campus. "We were supposed to be roommates," Joel said. A.J. interrupted and said, "I wanted him to experience his own thing, so I told Coach Shane that he should room him with someone else. Besides, I've lived with him forever, so we don't need to be together here [laughing]."
Luis and Miguel live together in a house close to campus. "But we still hang out when we are on campus," Luis said.
All four didn't really have anything bad to say about being on the team and going to school together. Luis said jokingly, "He can be annoying. He knows all my secrets, but it's fine."
A.J. said "Before, I would call him and say, 'hey I miss you bro,' but I don't get to do that anymore because he's here. Other than that, I love it."
Both older siblings say that they are all hard on each other and hold each other accountable. "If he doesn't play hard, or does something bad, I'll get on him, for sure," Luis said.
All four are looking forward to being successful this season. Luis and A.J. led the Saints to a conference regular season championship last year, and A.J. was part of the 2012 team that won the regular season, the conference tournament and played in the national tournament.
Although the team is now 1-4-1, all four acknowledged that they have played some very tough teams. "We had a tough schedule, and it was that way so we could be tested, but we'll do well from now on. We are learning from our mistakes and we'll come on strong in conference," Luis commented.
A.J. said "It'll be fun to win my third conference title. It's also important that when we [Luis and I] leave, that we leave a good impression on the remaining team and that they'll know we had an impact, that they'll be able to say that they could lean on us."
A.J. was recently selected by his teammates to be the team captain. "I didn't really except them to do that, I just love playing soccer, and my goal is to go out there and have fun, so I think my teammates vibe off of that." Joel said, "It's great, I'm proud of him."
Luis has one more year of eligibility, but he plans to finish out this season, graduate in May 2018, and start on school for physical therapy. A.J. also plans to finish his degree in the spring of 2018.
The OLLU community is encouraged to come out and cheer for OLLU's two sets of siblings and the rest of the Saints as they continue their fall 2017 season.