The following article was published in the April issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer, and cowritten with Mahan Chitgari.
At TPHS, “band of brothers” has nothing to do with a humvee or an M-16, nor with the popular HBO mini-series; it represents the bond, forged with blood, sweat and tears, between Falcon football players.
Offensive lineman Jake Ashby (12) and linebacker Kyle Ashby (11) do not need a slogan to band them together. Not only are the boys brothers, but their father, Scott Ashby, is the head football coach and defensive coordinator.
“When you’re putting in 20 hours a week you’re going to get close with every one of those guys, so it has made me and my brother closer,” Jake said. “The competitiveness is always there between us, but at home I know he has my back, and I always have his.”
While they lifted weights and ran together before the season, they are now often pitted against one another during practice.
“There was one play where [Kyle] was blitzing the A-gap, and he knocked me back a little bit on that play,” Jake said. “I told coach, ‘Let’s run that play again,’ and then I knocked him back, and then we just got fired up with each other.”
Until they both made the TPHS softball team, Lauren Bower (12) and Andrea Bower (10) had never played on the same team. Now they work together to enterain the Lady Falcons whenever the girls are feeling down, according to Lauren.
“We make up handshakes and wrestle,” Lauren said. “If she’s picking something up, I’ll push her, and she’ll fall down.
Andrea said that once her sister leaves, although she does not anticipate breaking out of her shell any more, she will become more serious because she will not have anyone to mess around with.
All four Ingwells have been swimming since they were little and after Milan Ingwell (12) graduates this year, Kian Ingwell (10) will be the last of the line.
“When my sister leaves, there will probably be a loss of competition between us, and her means to motivate me will be gone, but I will always know she will support me wherever she is and that is all I need to keep swimming strong,” Kian said.
According to Kian, he and Milan used to bicker about swim times at practice but they have learned to accept their separate skills, especially because Milan swims breaststroke and Kian swims freestyle.
Likewise, Jake does not want the team to hear him calling Coach Ashby “dad.” Jake said there is a difference between when they are on the field and when they are just hanging out as a family.
“We do a good job of keeping things away from the house,” Scott said. “I played for my dad, and I played for my uncle, and we leave that all here.”
Scott said that he alternates between the fatherly role and the coach’s role to create a fair and productive environment for his sons and the other players.
“Sometimes I watch film as a dad and other times I watch it as a coach,” Scott said. “On the field I look at what I need to look at, like a coach would. I make a conscious decision to separate the two roles. When you look at [the videos] from a fan’s perspective, you’re just happy if it goes well, and from a coach’s perspective, you can always find something they could have done better.”
According to Milan, her coaches never play favorites between her and any of her siblings.
“I just like kids who listen and give their best effort, and it doesn’t matter who they are beyond that,” head swim coach Richard Contreras said.
It would be hard to prove that Scott has a favorite, but it is not hard to tell who Jake and Kyle’s favorite teammates are.
“On the drive home from one of the games he said, ‘Jake, I just had a really bad game,’ and I said, “Don’t even worry about it,” Jake said. “We have that relationship where we talk to each other right after the game, and we start to analyze the game for the other.”
Blood, sweat and tears are a big part of sports, but when it comes to the Ingwells, Bowers and Ashbys, blood provides that extra support that every athlete needs to succeed.