GARDINER — It’s one of the strangest roster oddities in the state. From Michauds to Manters, Hinkleys to Keenes and Phillises to Dearborns, six pairs of brothers dot the Gardiner boys lacrosse lineup, injecting a sense of family into the team’s overall sense of chemistry.

It’s unusual, it’s unique, and coach K.C. Johnson had another word to describe it.

“It’s kind of cool when you think about it,” Johnson said. “They know each other inside and out.”

The players, however, brush off the novelty. Cam and Sean Michaud, Noah and Logan Keene, Brad and Nate Phillis, Isaac and Max Dearborn, Connor and Logan Manter and Garrett and Parker Hinkley are the brothers that comprise 11 of the 26 players on the team (Max Dearborn is on junior varsity), but for the Tigers themselves, nothing feels out of the ordinary.

No. 9 Gardiner finished the regular season 5-7 and will play No. 8 Morse (7-5) in a Class B prelim game Wednesday at 5 p.m. at McMann Field in Bath.

While first-time viewers of the Gardiner roster might notice and point out how often last names seem to repeat, it’s something that for the players has become part of the routine.

“It is something the team’s gotten used to by now, because all these people have played youth sports together,” said Isaac Dearborn, a senior defenseman. “We’re all friends.”

“It never felt like anything different. … They’re in the locker room, they’re all hanging out. It doesn’t matter what grade they’re in, they hang out,” Johnson added. “I think the only difference really is you’ll have parents’ night and you have a half set of parents. … I guess it’s kind of cool that there are a lot of athletes in this town that are brothers. It’s not that common, I guess.”

It tends to be at Gardiner. Johnson has had brothers on his teams throughout the years, from the Heberts (Tanner and Tristan) last year to the Wings (Seth and Tyler) and Peckhams (Cody, Colby and Cory) and many before that. Children in Gardiner get introduced to sports at a young age, they stick with those sports, and so when high school comes around, siblings end up together.

“We’ve always kind of been through that,” Johnson said. “If you have one playing baseball and one playing lacrosse, you’re pulling from both directions. It’s like playing basketball and hockey. The kids growing up through are all playing the same sports.”

Where this team is unusual, Johnson said, is in the number of siblings. Brothers at Gardiner often play years apart from each other. This season, however, all the timelines have led to a common junction — and while an abundance of brothers would seem to make for cliques within the team, the players say that hasn’t been the case.

If anything, it’s made the Tigers stronger.

“I almost feel like it makes us a little more harmonious, because if your brother’s friends with someone, you’re friends with him, too,” said Cam Michaud, a junior defenseman. “You interact with everyone a little bit more because your brother’s interacting and you’re with him, so I think it brings us together a little bit more.”

It’s not surprising. Most of the lacrosse players have played either hockey or football together for over four years, and have long learned to bond with one another. And of the brother combinations on the team, only one, the Phillises, is made of same-age siblings. The rest feature a one- or two-year age difference, making it even easier for the whole team to gel.

“The brothers will stick together, but also we go our own ways with different ages,” said Connor Manter, a senior attack. “Everyone has their own social group that they hang with.”

Those differences extend to the field, where the siblings are hardly replicas of each other. While there are six pairs of brothers, Johnson said they’re 12 different people, and 12 different approaches to lacrosse. While Cam Michaud is a more cerebral player, Sean is more instinctive. Parker Hinkley is smaller and faster, Garrett is bigger and stronger. Nate Phillis is aggressive on the attack, while Brad hangs back and looks to make plays on the outside.

“These guys might not even be brothers with the way they act,” Johnson said. “They’re all their own personalities.”

And yet, the family element still pokes through. But two brothers against each other in a drill, and there’s no doubt that the intensity rises.

“Sean and Cam will mix it up a little bit,” Johnson said. “Especially when they’re playing long stick, one was playing middie and one was playing defender, so they’ll mix it up every once in a while.”

“You push each other a little harder sometimes, especially in practice,” Cam Michaud said. “No one wants to lose to their brother and get chirped by the team. … There’s always that little bit of competitiveness. You don’t want to get outdone by the other one.”

And sometimes, with two brothers on the field, the chemistry gets a boost. Players and coaches alike said this happens most often with the Phillises, who often play together on offense and can tell without looking where each other will be while setting up — a benefit from 10 years of playing together, dating back to second grade.

“They have the ability to play off each other and play together,” said Noah Keene, a senior goalie. “They know what they’re doing out there.”

“I see them dishing it to each other a lot, making those tough-to-see passes,” Cam Michaud added. “They know where the other one is all the time.”

With a spot in the Class B playoffs, the Tigers are hoping that dynamic will continue to play out. After all, the family element has worked so far.

“It definitely helps knowing each other a lot better,” Connor Manter said. “When you have your sibling on the team, you do a lot of extra practice with them … and you get to really develop with them.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.