Success with Honor: Lacrosse - A Family Affair
May 5, 2009
By Trey Miller, Penn State Athletic Communications Student Assistant
Lacrosse at Penn State is a family affair. Not just in a team sense, but literally.
"We're always together. We love each other, on the field off the field. We're best friends I'd say," said Kerry Shea.
Kerry was not talking about her lacrosse teammates; she was referring to her sisters. This season, between the men's and women's lacrosse teams, there are a total of five sets of siblings, broken down in a variety of ways.
From this set of 10 athletes comes an abundance of experience along with a great deal of inexperience. From the set, there are four seniors: team captain and goalkeeper Drew Adams, team captain and midfielder Matt Warner, attacker Rob Forster and midfielder Kerry Shea. To go along with these seniors there are five freshmen. Midfielder Aly Adams, attacker Lea Andress, defenseman Colleen Shea, red-shirt attacker Jack Forster, and midfielder Jim Warner make up the newcomers. John Andress is the lone junior of the group.
Playing lacrosse at Penn State is just natural for some of these siblings. Sports run in every family. In the case of the Andress siblings, the last name was already associated with the university. Both their father and mother attended Penn State. John Sr. was a quarterback here and their mother, Deb, played lacrosse.
"We've basically grown up here because we always would come up for football games and stuff. Once I visited I knew that this is the place I wanted to come. But my parents had a big influence on us also," Lea Andress said.
It wasn't just the parents who played a role in Lea's decision to attend Penn State. Older brother, John, had just as much to do with it.
"He is the one who kind of like persuaded me to come here," said Lea of John.
The Shea name has also been a fixture in women's lacrosse at Penn State for the past five years. The eldest Shea, Linsey, graduated last year, and had younger sisters Kerry and Colleen follow in her footsteps. Linsey and Kerry, who is one year younger than Linsey, were very close. Not only did they play lacrosse together here, but they played all of their sports together growing up. As Kerry puts it, they are basically twins.
"It was nice to have her with me. She knew everything about me," Kerry said.
Both Kerry and Colleen were a bit wary of coming to Penn State, as they didn't want to be just another "Shea."
"Linsey and I thought originally that we didn't want to go to school together because we were always the Sheas'. But in the end this is the place that we both liked," Kerry pointed out.
Colleen felt the same way. She didn't want to just be the "last Shea." But Colleen couldn't hide the fact that this was the school for her. "In the end it was the school for me and I really wanted to go here," she said.
Lacrosse is something both Drew and Aly Adams could not shy away from. Their mother, Barb, played lacrosse for East Stroudsburg and as Aly put it, it was something that got her started in the sport. Not only did her mother being a former laxer get her started, but her older brother Drew had a hand in that too.
"Definitely just seeing my brother playing made me want to play too," Aly said.
As Drew pointed out, they also had two older brothers who played club lacrosse in school. Both Drew and Aly were always involved in sports growing up. The family lineage at Penn State was also a factor in Drew's decision to attend. Both their uncle and older brother had attended the university.
But, for the Adams', the decision wasn't solely based on the older sibling's attendance to Penn State that caused the younger to follow.
According to Drew, Aly had probably wanted to attend Penn State before he did. As a kid, Aly was always the biggest fan. With him being here, though, Drew mentions it couldn't have hurt her chances. She had been up to visit many times and had received a sense of the lacrosse teams and the university itself.
"I think that definitely helped her make the decision a little easier to come here," said Drew.
The Forster brothers naturally followed in their father's footsteps. Ron had played lacrosse for Drexel. "I grew up with a lacrosse stick in my hand basically," said Rob.
This season, the Forster brothers had been vital components to the men's lacrosse team. Rob finished the season first on the team in scoring with 35 points. This is no surprise as he led the team last season with 29 points.
If it wasn't for a late season injury, younger brother Jack Forster could have led the team in scoring. Despite missing the final three games of the season, Jack still accounted for 34 points. Rob shows no signs of hard feelings that his younger brother has stepped up. He had nothing but good things to say about his younger brother's performance on the field and being able to play beside him.
"He's unbelievable. He's a very, very good player. It's just special to me. It's just a great experience."
A substantial part of the reason Jack chose to come to Penn State was because his older brother was here. He said it played a big part in his decision, and as Rob pointed out, the Forster family brothers will continue to play at Penn State.
The Warner brothers of Matt and Jim are another brother combination. This is the first year these two have played organized lacrosse together. Both claim, though, that Matt had little to no influence on Jim deciding to be a Nittany Lion. Jim claimed it helped to be able to visit the university.
"I got to come see games and see the facilities I guess helped a little bit but not like the fact that he was here."
For the most part, the older siblings have mentored their younger kin on and off of the lacrosse field. Colleen Shea gives her older sister credit for being there, regardless of the problem.
"I think she acts as a mentor to me in lacrosse and in school. She helps me out a lot. It's great for the college transition."
Aly Adams has also received a great amount of advice from her older brother. Drew has shown Aly the ropes of being a lacrosse player as well as a leader. With his success in the goal through his years at Penn State, Aly says it is no surprise that the older brother she grew up with has become a team captain.
"He's always been a leader in my eyes just as a big brother and a role model in sports and off the field with just general stuff in life too," Aly said of her older brother. "He's not really a leader that's going to lead by what he says necessarily but by example."
Drew has done just that in his four years as a Nittany Lion. He led by example. Drew has earned himself three ECAC Goalie of the Year awards and has put together one of his finest statistical seasons since arriving at Penn State in 2006. Drew has more saves this season than any other with 212. His current save percentage of .652 is .041 better than his .611 mark last season. His credentials help him keep his sister confident.
Aly isn't much of a vocal person. Drew says she doesn't ask for help much. But, as she mentioned, she knows he is there as a leader by example.
"She's very independent. A lot of things she takes care of on her own," Drew said. "I think at the same time she knows that if she ever really needs anything she can come to me and I would give her a good answer."
Rob Forster is always there for Jack, but in more of a support sense rather than in a lacrosse sense. Jack was having an incredible season until his injury late in the season. His lacrosse skills and knowledge are obviously above par.
"He has completely held his own this year by himself." Rob said. "I know for a fact he doesn't need me for advice, but for support, he definitely needs me."
Having an older brother on the team can't hurt. The advice is always right there, every game, every practice. Jack still gives some of his lacrosse credit to Rob. With Rob leading the team in scoring for two straight seasons, Jack was bound to receive some brotherly love.
"He's pretty much a leader. He helps me and the younger guys fit in well with the offense."
"If he ever needed anything I was always there to answer some questions," Matt said. "But for the most part he was able to do his own thing."
The end of the season signals the end of the road for many siblings who have had the opportunity of playing lacrosse either beside or for the same school as their siblings at the collegiate level. Four seniors will depart, leaving their younger siblings behind at a university of over 40,000 students. But one thing has become apparent; the family tradition will live on for Penn State lacrosse.