Athletics serve as strong bond for Peterson brothers
May 14, 2020 - 11:05
Fennville junior Brody Peterson has never been one to take it easy on his younger brother Ben, a freshman, when it comes to athletics.
“Ben and I have a good relationship, but it’s a competitive relationship,” Brody said. “I’ve got high standards for him and I push him to reach his full potential. It’s part of me being the older brother. I want the best for him.”
And Ben, likewise, wants what’s best for Brody.
“We push each other a lot no matter the sport,” Ben said. “That’s how it has always been since we were little. If I’m slacking, he gets on me because he wants what best for me and I’ll do the same for him.
“In the end we want the most success for each other. That’s why our relationship is so special. We’re very competitive, but we care about each other.”
It’s that competitive drive and desire to push each other that have helped mold the Peterson brothers into multi-sport standouts for the Blackhawks.
Brody has received All-Conference honors as a point guard in basketball and a shortstop/pitcher in baseball. Ben, meanwhile, was named All-Conference in football as a quarterback/linebacker and in basketball as a forward.
Steve Peterson, the boys’ father and varsity baseball coach at Fennville, has had a first-row seat when it comes to watching Brody and Ben grow and develop.
“From the time Ben could walk, he and Brody never took it easy on each other,” Steve said. “Everything was always a competition to prove who was the best. They critique each other, to help each other get better. They don’t take it easy on each other. They practice hard to make each other better. They both want to win at whatever they do, so each of them sets the tone of doing whatever it takes to win.”
That winning attitude was on full display during the basketball season, as the Petersons helped propel Fennville to the SAC Lakeshore championship.
“One of the most memorable moments in sports with Brody is taking the court with him for the first time in high school,” Ben said. “Growing up, we’d always looked forward to playing with each other (at the high school level). Watching the varsity team play as kids, we dreamed of playing together up there and now that has finally come true. It was amazing. I had a lot of fun and really enjoy playing with him.”
Watching their sons compete on the same high school squad was special to Steve and his wife Maria.
“We were actually kind of sad at how much our boys had started to drift apart in recent years,” Steve said. “Then as Ben got into high school this year, we have watched them grow into great friends. We watched as Brody became Ben’s biggest fan in football and then them grow even closer as they became teammates on the basketball team.
“Don’t get me wrong. There were still days they came home from basketball practice not talking to each other because one did something to upset the other at practice that day, but it has still brought them closer. We are grateful that they have gotten the opportunity to play together.”
The early years
It didn’t take long for Steve and Maria to realize athletics would be a part of their sons’ future.
“They both were throwing balls before they could even stand up,” Steve said. “At a very young age they were dribbling any ball they could their hands on and wanting to play catch or hit every day.”
That love of all things sports quickly carried over to the boys’ TV viewing.
“I’ve been playing sports since I could remember,” Brody said. “It’s what I liked to do. When I was little I’d rather watch SportsCenter than Disney, so my dad loved that.”
Yes, he did.
“Both of them watch sports a lot and started at a very young age,” Steve said. “I can remember laughing at my wife when she would turn the TV to cartoons and Brody would say, ‘Turn it back to SportsCenter,’ or I would come home to them watching a game.
“As a coach, I can definitely tell which players have grown up watching the game. Brody and Ben both have an above-average understanding of the sports they play and a lot of that has to do with how much they watched from a young age.”
Once the boys got involved in organized sports, their athletic prowess became even more apparent.
“As parents, we all believe our kids are special,” Steve said. “But I started to realize they were definitely above-average athletes when they got involved in organized sports and were playing against other kids. Both were talented enough to play up two grades throughout their rec careers in baseball and basketball, and Ben was big enough that he played up a grade in football.”
Strengths and attributes
Despite regularly playing against kids two years or more older than him, Ben remained confident in his ability. That, at least in part, was due to his physical size.
“I remember in seventh grade my baseball team was playing a team of high schoolers in a tournament,” Brody said. “Ben comes up to the plate a 5-foot-5, 170-pound fifth grader, super-stocky kid with a ton of confidence. The guy who was pitching was throwing hard and Ben comes up and hits a bomb over the fence in the left center gap.
“Later that game, a guy on their team asked how old (Ben) was and the guy was mind-blown when I said Ben was in fifth grade. The guy went and told his whole team and they were going crazy in the dugout after hearing that. That’s what I remember about playing with Ben the most. He never looked younger he never looked out of place.”
But Ben’s success hasn’t been due only to his size.
“Ben has always been a bigger, stronger kid than his peers, but he’s also unselfish and was intentional at keeping his teammates involved and successful,” Steve said. “He has proved as a freshman that he isn’t just good because of his size. He has great vision and coordination, is very self-confident and aggressive.”
Brody, by contrast, didn’t have the same size advantage as his younger brother. But he was able to make up for that in many other ways.
“Brody has never been a big kid, but he is super competitive and has great coordination, whether it be running, jumping, dribbling, shooting, fielding or throwing,” Steve said. “He looks smooth at whatever he is doing.
“He is also very unselfish, has great vision and has the ability to anticipate what is going to happen next.”
And both have proven to possess high degrees of leadership skills, as evidenced by the fact that they were nominated to represent Fennville at the SAC Leadership Conference.
Brody was also named captain of the basketball team this winter and Ben served as captain of the football team last fall.
It’s those traits that really bring a smile to the faces of the boys’ parents.
“People in the school system and community come to Maria and I all the time to tell us how impressed they were with one of our boys because of how they went out of their way to include someone or help someone,” Steve said. “That is more rewarding as parents than any athletic achievement they could get.”
According to Steve, it’s his sons’ faith that has helped instill those leadership qualities in them.
“We try to keep Christ as the focus of our family,” Steve said. “We remind our boys all the time that all of their abilities come from God and they need to give him the praise and represent themselves in a way to glorify him.”
Training for success
Given the level of success the brothers have attained in athletics, it should come as no surprise that they devote a good chunk of their free time to training.
And much of that training is done together.
“Ben and I work out together a lot and that’s where a lot of our competitiveness comes from,” Brody said. “We like to play some one-on-one or have a home run derby and nobody wants to lose one of those.
“We definitely motivate each other. We push each other in practice, whether we’re guarding each other in a team drill in basketball or pitching to each other in an inter-squad. We’re always trying to get the best from each other.”
That competitiveness also spills over into the weight room.
“We hit the weights around 6 a.m. before school and we really push each other in there,” Brody said.
As multi-sport athletes, the Petersons often have overlap when it comes to working out for their sports.
In the summer, both brothers split their time between baseball and basketball. During the winter, they do baseball workouts in addition to basketball. And Ben also has to get ready for football in the fall.
While Brody doesn’t play football, he still helps Ben prepare.
“Brody helps me by running routes for me to pass to or going over plays or simply just a playing catch,” Ben said. “Brody and I definitely spend most of our time training together.”
All that time spent together had allowed the brothers to form a unique chemistry on the basketball court and baseball field.
“The best part of being on the same team is the chemistry we have with each other,” Brody said. “During basketball season, we connected on a lot of plays and we just fed off each other.”
“Being on the same team as Brody is an advantage,” Ben said. “I think because we grew up playing together no matter the sport, our chemistry is great. We know each other in and out.”
That familiarity has led to a heightened level of trust.
“We feed off each other and if I’m doing good and I’m on fire, Brody tells me to go to work and I do,” Ben said. “If he is on fire, I say the same to him and I trust him to deliver and he always does.”
“There are times in games where I trust to just look at him and say, ‘Hey, take over,’ and even though he’s young he steps up and delivers,” Brody said.
Steve Peterson was disappointed he didn’t get the chance to see that chemistry on display on the baseball field this spring, with the season having been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Not being able to play this year has been hard,” Steve said. “Not only because it is one of two years I had the opportunity to coach my two sons together at this level, but because this group is very special to me. These are the friends my boys have grown up with. I have had the opportunity to coach many of these young men in multiple sports and at multiple levels in football, basketball and baseball.”
As the Peterson brothers—along with the rest of the high school athletes in Michigan—wait to get back to the sports they love, they know they’ll always be each other’s biggest fan.
“He pushes me to be the best I can and I’m very grateful for that,” Ben said. “We want what is best for each other before what is best for ourselves. He is a big part of the reason where I am today.”
“We always have each other’s back,” Brody said.