The camaraderie was especially high on the Luther men’s soccer team last fall, and if the family culture of the team seemed particularly strong, you could credit the unusual number of brothers on the team. Including two of the coaches, there were five pairs of siblings on the team along with two more players whose brothers played for Luther in recent years.
Head coach Chris Garcia-Prats, whose brother James Garcia-Prats ’14 is an assistant coach and former player of his, says, “I think it’s really unique that so many younger siblings have followed their older brothers. I think that happens more at Luther than at most places.”
First-year student Wes McNeese started thinking about enrolling at Luther about a year after his older brother Kyle ’17 came to Luther. “It was based on instinct,” he says. “I liked it better than the other schools, liked my adviser, teammates, and the campus.”
That was cool with Kyle. The McNeese brothers had played together for a year in high school too, but they say that playing with five sets of brothers is a very different experience. They felt like they had “a little something extra,” Kyle says. Watching video of the game with his brother, he adds, was one of the best parts of celebrating a win. And they had a lot of wins, making it all the way to the second round of the NCAA Division III national tournament.
For the head coach the benefits have stretched over many years. He has had not just four, but seven or eight years years to get to know his players’ families. “It’s been neat,” Garcia-Prats says. And being part of their sons’ development as players and as young men, he says, “is something that I’m super proud of.”
He has recruited each brother on his own merits as a player and sees the individuality in each of them, Garcia-Prats says. Coaching them is a challenge, but also fun. “Starting out the season, you know the team culture is already going to be in a good place.”