Waiter twins stick together
Austin and Brandon Waiter have done just about everything together their whole lives.
They have been inseparable while playing football, basketball, baseball and lacrosse and have always followed the same path and they led the Staples boys lacrosse team to its best season in its history before graduating in June. Moreover, they will be lacrosse teammates at Merrimack College next year as well.
Staples was undefeated in the regular season at 16-0 and reached the Class L semifinals before ending the season at 18-2. The Waiters played a huge role in stopping opponents with Austin, a captain, making big saves in net, and Brandon, serving as a backbone for the defense which helped limit the amount of goals the team allowed.
"They took lacrosse very seriously and wanted us to achieve something," Wreckers Coach Paul McNulty said. "They wanted to put Staples lacrosse on the map and they worked year-round to improve."
The only things that separate the brothers are 30 minutes and 10 pounds. The former is the age difference between them with Austin entering this world first. Both brothers stand 6'1 and Austin is 10 pounds heavier than Brandon, 185-175.
They both began Little League baseball together before hanging up their spikes and switching over to lacrosse in fifth grade and began playing PAL football and recreational basketball in third grade.
"We loved playing the same stuff at a young age, football, basketball and baseball, and we decided to try lacrosse and we loved it," Austin Waiter said. "We've been together for so long and we're used to playing together. We are used to competing with each other and we want to be better than each other. This competitiveness made us better."
At Staples, they played football before quitting before senior year to focus on lacrosse and continued to play recreational basketball. On the gridiron, they were both wide receivers on offense with Austin playing at outside linebacker and Brandon at cornerback on defense.
"We really wanted to concentrate on lacrosse and went to a lot of camps," Brandon Waiter said. "It was hard to fit everything in [and they gave up football in order to do so]."
Considering they've played together all their lives and have near-identical pursuits, it only makes sense that they play on the same side of the field and work together. They feed off of each other and work well together, giving each other support and advice along the way. As the goalie, Austin directs traffic and tells the defenders where they need to be. Brandon does whatever he can to make sure Austin doesn't face many tough shots. They have outstanding chemistry with each other, which also helps.
"It's kind of cool because we played with each other for so long and we know what each other are going to do," Brandon said. "We were always on the same team and it always came naturally. I know what Austin is capable of. He knows what he has to do and he knows what I have to do. We work together and get it done."
Austin said, "It's pretty cool because we played with each other our entire lives and we know how each other plays because we played with each other for so long. I know he'd be in the right place at the right time and I can always rely on him."
Sometimes, being related to a teammate could have its downside. However, the brothers try not to set the bar higher for each other than they do for their teammates.
"We treat each other like other players and I don't feel any extra pressure to prevent him from facing shots," Brendan Waiter said.
In the end, it's not always easy to treat each other like their other teammates because of the bond between them and both brothers want each other to succeed.
Thus, if Austin allows a goal, there's a greater chance he'd express his frustration to Brandon than to another teammate.
"I don't yell at him [Brandon], I just tell him what he needs to do and how to fix it," Austin Waiter said. "I don't get angry at him but I expect more from him because he's my brother and I want him to do well. If I miss an outside shot, he'd just tell me to get the next one and how to be better."
Another thing they have in common was that they both changed positions. Brandon was originally a midfielder but in sixth grade, moved to defense.
"I didn't get the opportunities I needed at midfield that year and there was an opening on defense and I took it," Brandon recalled.
According to Austin, Brandon briefly tried goalie in eighth grade but it wasn't for him. At the time, Austin was a forward and decided to switch over to goalie.
"I just told him it's not so hard, so I tried it and liked it," Austin Waiter remembered.
Austin was a Second Team All-FCIAC and Second Team All-State goalie. He also played in the Senior All-Star game.
"It was a great honor," Austin Waiter said. "I didn't go into the season expecting any of it. I played for a great team and that's what's important."
Waiter stopped 58 percent of the shots he faced, including some big saves off of breakaways.
"It was really my team," Austin Waiter said. "They helped me in practice, taking short-range shots on me. It was also my defense forcing opponents to take the shots I wanted to face. This helped me in game-situations."
McNulty said, "In many games, Austin was the difference, coming up with big saves against good players."
Other awards that came Austin's way included the Coaches' Heart award and was the Blue Streak FCIAC Player of the Week for June 9.
Playing in net can create its share of pressure because the goalie is the last line of defense. Having a calm demeanor enabled him to thrive as the Wreckers' starting goaltender the past two years.
"It's tough but I know if I let in a goal, my teammates won't get mad at me and they'd pick me up," Austin Waiter said. "It started being on varsity freshman year, where I gained experience."
He was the backup goalie for Adam Driesman (Class '08) his freshman and sophomore years before taking over the reins junior year.
"I really learned a lot practicing with the varsity, getting in games freshman year and starting a few games sophomore year. It helped me a lot junior and senior years."
Brandon worked hard in becoming a solid defender. His brother's confidence in him as a defender was justified because he almost always delivered in the clutch.
"It all came from playing PAL football, which gave me discipline, and playing in the Bantam Lacrosse program league and having my mom bring me up the way she did," Brandon Waiter said.
Opponents had trouble getting past Brandon because he covered them like a blanket. His ability to shadow them played a role in the Wreckers allowing very few goals.
"I have good coaches teaching me the defense and it kind of worked out well," Brandon Waiter said.
Staples bestowed upon Brandon the James Edward Izen Award, which is an annual award that recognized a player who is most committed to its offseason conditioning program. Junior year, he picked up his game when the Wreckers were 4-6. His improved play catapulted Staples towards a five-game winning streak and 9-7 regular season record, 10-8 overall.
"Brandon picked up his intensity and quality of play on the field," McNulty recalled. "After that, everyone started to play better."
Picking up ground balls was one of many things Brandon excelled in. He had 71 as a junior and 68 his senior year.
"Lots of practice and wanting it more than the opponent was key," Brandon Waiter said. "Being motivated and wanting the ball on the other side of the field so we could score, also helped."
Playing on defense doesn't yield the headlines offensive players and goalies normally get. However, Brandon is undaunted by it.
"I don't really mind not getting the glory," Brandon Waiter said. "Sometimes, I run up the field and score. It's always fun beating up on the opponent."
Possessing speed also worked in his favor as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. This swiftness enabled Brandon to remain a step ahead of his opponent. In fact, he used his fleet-footedness to blaze down the field and contribute on offense, contributing four goals -- which is impressive for a defenseman -- and one assist for five points this year.
"I guess football training helped me with my speed," Brandon Waiter said.
Despite his contributions to the Wreckers' success, he received no recognition from the FCIAC, which doesn't faze him.
"I didn't really care because my goal was to play college lacrosse and I accomplished this goal," Brandon Waiter said.
Although Austin was officially a captain and Brandon didn't have the title, they were both leaders in their own right. Because the goalie is similar to a field general, Brandon led verbally as well as by example.
"It was a great honor but all the seniors led the team and made it great and not just the captains," Austin Waiter said. "All of our efforts helped make the team better."
Brandon Waiter said, "We had a lot of seniors this year and we all wanted to do well. We all did what we could to lead the team."
McNulty said, "They were both team leaders and led by example. All the seniors acted like captains."
Sometimes, twins go their separate ways when they go to college. Not the Waiters. They continue their lacrosse journey together at Merrimack with Austin majoring in sports medicine and Brandon majoring in sports management.
"They will have to earn their spots but I think they will both do well there," McNulty said.
In order to play for the Warriors, the twins know they will have to raise their play to the next level because they will face tougher opponents.
"Hard work will be the key," Brandon Waiter said. "They recruited us for a reason and we have to go in working hard and show we can play."
Austin Waiter said, "All the training will pay off. We have to go to the weight room and all the extra stuff will help us and improve our play."
When Austin attended the Blue Chip recruiting show case at Bryant College, Merrimack's coach expressed interest in him. He then told the coach about Brandon and he started to recruit him as well. Brandon signed first with the Warriors before Austin officially joined him.
Although they will be on the same team, they will have different roommates.
"We decided we didn't want to room together if we went to the same school," Brandon Waiter said. "We did it for 18 years and we wanted something different."
The twins believe this arrangement will work out for the best.
"We know how each other plays and it well help us get better and work to our advantage," Austin Waiter said.
Brandon Waiter said, "It's going to be good for both of us. I have no complaints. We've been good teammates and I don't think it will change during the next four years."