By Steven Swensen
For the Daily Titan
The demands of college life challenges everyone in different ways. Classes, assignments, studying for tests and work schedules all pull us in many different directions. But student-athletes also have to deal with the demands of playing team sports.
For Gary and Torrie Brown, coping is as easy as depending on family ties.
Gary, a junior left fielder for Cal State Fullertonâ€™s baseball team, is the older brother of Torrie, a sophomore striker for the womenâ€™s volleyball team. As individuals, they are making names for themselves as accomplished athletes. Privately, they are teammates helping one another juggle the commitments of sports and college.
Having been drafted by the Oakland Athletics while at Diamond Bar High School, Gary chose to develop his skills at the collegiate level and has been rewarded for his decision. A Freshman All-American for both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, Gary was also a Big West Conference Honorable Mention as a utility player.
Helping take Titan baseball back to the College World Series in Omaha this past season was a success he hopes to build on in 2010.
â€œWe have a bitter taste in our mouth because we felt that we were the best team there, but it was a great experience for our team to take in and learn from,â€ Brown said.
Committed to winning and adding to the famed legacy of championship baseball at CSUF, Gary is leaving a mark on the field. Yet his greatest contribution to Titan athletics may have been a simple phone call to his sister.
Taking up volleyball in high school, Torrie was a natural fit. Like Gary, her performance at Diamond Bar High gained plenty of recognition. While there, she was a three-time First Team All-Sierra League honoree and named to four All-Tournament teams during her career.
She was also named San Gabriel Valley Tribune All-Inland Valley Player of the Year after her senior year.
Deciding to go away for school, Torrie played her freshman year at Georgia State and enjoyed her time away.
â€œIt was exciting to be in a new place and a new environment with good teammates becoming friends,â€ she said.
However, the team struggled over the course of her first season and Torrie began re-evaluating the future. Initially, she was hesitant to consider coming back home, particularly CSUF, because of the closeness to her high school and home in Diamond Bar.
â€œOriginally, I was hesitant to stay so close to home, but Gary called me and helped change my mind, convincing me to reconsider. I trusted him when I made the decision to come home to family and friends and join a competitive team,â€ she said.
With Torrie and the CSUF womenâ€™s volleyball team amassing an 18-12, which tied a school record for victories in a season, big brother Gary is glad his efforts paid off.
â€œItâ€™s great to see her around campus, bump into (her) around study hall and to see her games. Having her at mine is a huge lift as well. I would never tell her this, but it means a lot having her,â€ he said.
Torrie attributes much of her successful transition to CSUF to Garyâ€™s constant support.
â€œItâ€™s a feeling of security to know he is there. He has been helpful with answering questions about school and helped me meet new people and make friends. He also sends me text messages to pump me up for big games, like our win against UCLA. Itâ€™s a good feeling,â€ she said.
Torrieâ€™s season at Georgia State was the first time in her life that her mother, Julie, wasnâ€™t able to support and attend her daughterâ€™s games and cheer her on.
â€œIt was heartbreaking for her to be away for her freshman year because we have been there at all the games since they were kids. Once she decided to come back, I was so happy to have her close to home and with her brother at school,â€ Julie Brown said.
Though a weekly challenge, Gary and Torrie regularly find time to meet up and head home to Diamond Bar for weekends with family and friends. Whether itâ€™s going to a movie and dinner or attending church, whatever they do, the Browns do it together.
The family bond is strengthened over those weekends back home and help Gary and Torrie return to school with the support to meet the challenges ahead.
â€œMy roommates are not locals, so I feel very fortunate to be able to say hello to my folks and visit home whenever I want,â€ Gary said.
With the womenâ€™s volleyball team battling now for a conference title, Torrieâ€™s contributions are an invaluable asset. Likewise, Garyâ€™s ambitions and outlook for the 2010 baseball team are getting back to the CWS and restoring national respect and recognition for Titan baseball.
The two have equally high ambitions for life beyond CSUF as well. Both communications majors, Torrieâ€™s concentration is broadcast journalism and hopes to end up in sports broadcasting or the entertainment field. Gary is concentrating on entertainment studies; his goal is to end up playing Major League Baseball in the next few years.
While the future is definitely bright for these two standout athletes, Gary and Torrie are prepared for what is to come because of the commitment they have shown as siblings, athletes and students.
As for mom, Julie hopes that whatever they do, they honor those same commitments through helping others.
â€œMy hope is that they will always be good examples and role models for others in areas of sports and academics. The foundation of what theyâ€™ve learned is respect for diversity, and Iâ€™m thankful theyâ€™ve been given the opportunity to do so. While being successful, I hope they always advocate to others the importance of education and standing up for what is right,â€ Julie said.