Oliver continues grind despite brother leaving Eastern


Justin Brown

Junior Justin Oliver continuues his collegiete career for coach Kiki Lara and the Eastern men’s soccer program despite the recent transfer of twin brother.

Maria Baldwin, Feature Writer

When siblings play a sport together, it can either bring them together, or it can make them compete against each other.

Either way, the sibling rivalry can make each one a better athlete.

For 17 years, junior forward Justin Oliver played alongside his twin brother, Tyler, including their first two years at Eastern.

That is, until Tyler decided to transfer.

“Ever since I was little, my twin brother and I, Tyler, always had a ball in our hands or on our feet,” Oliver said. “We would watch our dad’s soccer games and loved going to them.”

Oliver said that this year in the pre-season his brother decided to transfer and play soccer at a school closer to home.

This is Oliver’s first season not playing with his brother by his side.

“I do OK on my own, but with my brother I’m a lot better,” Oliver said. “Everybody who I’ve ever played with or has seen us play together can attest to that. So it’s been rough going from playing with somebody my entire life, who you have chemistry with, to playing with people that you’ve only known for a while.”

When Tyler informed Justin of his plan to transfer, he said the thought did cross his mind whether he wanted to follow him or not, but the love for Eastern and the soccer program kept him at Lakeside Field.

“I talked to him about it and he didn’t want me to go with him because I was doing well here,” Oliver said. “I didn’t want to leave all my friends, they became my family. I didn’t want to bail on them, especially with the start of the season coming up and I’m glad I stayed here.”

Coach Kiki Lara said that Justin is somebody that he can count on to make an impact and score at any moment.

“Justin is someone that loves the program and Eastern,” Lara said. “He cares to see it do well. That is another important quality of his that he brings to the team.”

Oliver said he continues to work on aspects of his game, particularly his passing, everyday at practice.

He said that he will even take a teammate to the racquet ball courts to hit the ball off the walls just to get the added practice.

While Oliver sharpens up his passing at practice, thoughts of the goals for the team are never far from his mind, and most of the goals for the team are short-term, he said.

“Our team goals are to reach the conference championship in Denver,” Oliver said. “We have a lot of small term goals, one of them being that we want to be the fittest team, and the team with the most grit and heart, and the team that fights the most. We aren’t very results orientated, we just take it one match at time.”

So far in this season, Oliver has started in five games and has scored one goal against Milwaukee.

“I did really well in the start of pre-season,” Oliver said. “We had three exhibition games and I scored six goals in them and I had a hat-trick against Drake. Once the start of the season rolled around, I pulled my groin in the first game, so it’s been hard doing things that my mind knows it can do but my body can’t do. Our team’s been doing well and that’s all that matters.”

Although Oliver said that he misses his brother, some memories of playing beside him will stick in his memory when the practices are long and the games get tough.

“Last year we won an overtime game against Robert Morris and in the first overtime I got the ball and I turned in the midfield and I saw Tyler making a run and I turned and played him the ball and he went in on a breakaway and he scored and since it was sudden death, his score ended the game,” Oliver said. “It was the coolest moment because I passed it to my brother and he scored the game-winning goal.”

Even without his brother, Oliver continues to love playing the sport and position he has played for 17 years of his life.

“Even though my position as a forward is filled with pressure, all it takes for me is to have one good moment out of 20 bad moments and I’ll be the guy that scored the goal or helped to score the goal, so I’m the hero,” Oliver said.

Maria Baldwin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]