Shooting from the Hip with the Brattons
Seniors Rhamel and Shamel Bratton are starters on UVa’s first midfield. The Huntington, N.Y., natives recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to discuss what it is like being a twin, how they picked up the sport of lacrosse and how the duo decided to come to UVa.
Question: Do you remember the first lacrosse game you participated in growing up?
Shamel: We joined an indoor league, and that was first ever lacrosse game I played. It was actually kind of scary to me. It was more fun just being with my friends that we went to school with – I didn’t really care if I was good or not. At that young age, you don’t really care too much about the result of the game. You’re just there hanging out, eating McDonald’s before.
Question: Was there ever a point when one of you wanted to do something else, or did both of you enjoy the sport so much that you just kept playing together?
Rhamel: We both took to it, and we liked it from the start. It was kind of like us double-teaming it and wanting to stick with it.
Question: You played on the same teams growing up and throughout high school. When it came time to decide on a college, did you ever give any thought to splitting up the twin act, or did you always know you wanted to continue playing together?
Shamel: There was no question that we were going together-no question. We pretty much do have the same taste in a lot of things. Obviously this is a big school, and we both just found things we liked about it and agreed. The style of play was the way we like to play. We didn’t want to go to a program that limits what you can do, especially athletically. We felt like we could pretty much play with anyone in the country, so we just wanted to let our personalities come out in our play.
Rhamel: We always knew we wanted to play together, so it was kind of like a package deal.
Question: You suffered some injuries early on at Virginia, Rhamel. Was it helpful having a brother on the team during that time?
Rhamel: Definitely. Shamel was always filling me in on what was going on with the team when I wasn’t there because of treatment and whatnot – giving me good advice like “stay positive”.
Question: Was it difficult for you to see Rhamel sidelined with injury while you were healthy and able to play, Shamel?
Shamel: It was definitely hard for me to watch. I got into it my freshman year, and I was running around with the first midfield line. His first year, he played second midfield, but during our second year, he was dealing with injuries. It’s tough to see someone that’s more physically gifted than you struggling out there and not being able to get on the field because he’s hurt.
Question: With a sister and two other brothers, one older and one younger, you weren’t the only children in the household growing up. What was the dynamic like amongst you and your other siblings?
Shamel: My older brother was kind of a father figure growing up. Our mom and dad were separated, but we still have a good relationship with our father. My older brother was in the household though, so he taught us a lot of things athletically. He’s eight years older than us. We learned a lot of the technique things of the sports that he played, which were football and basketball mainly.
Rhamel: Aside from sports, he’s been a great role model and someone we can always talk to. I think it’s pretty cool having someone you see as your brother and as your father. You can talk about things that you wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to talk to your father about.
Question: Shamel, what would you say is the biggest difference between you and Rhamel?
Shamel: I would say on the field, the only real thing is lefty or righty. People always ask me which one of us is better, but I always say, ‘Do you want a righty or a lefty?’ That’s the only real difference in terms of on the field that would decide whether you want to put me in that position or Rhamel in that position. Off the field, I’m just a little more laid-back. I kind of go with the flow with things, and Rhamel is more outspoken.
Question: What is the best part about being a twin?
Rhamel: Obviously on the field and off the field, it’s pretty competitive, but it’s pretty special having someone that can relate to what you’re going through, especially with lacrosse and whatnot as a college student. They know exactly what you’re going through and you can talk to them in whatever situation.
Shamel: It’s just easy. He’s got the same kind of opinions you do, and you come home and you don’t have to feel worried about what you’re saying. Many times you’re talking to someone, and you have to think about whether they’re going to take offense at something. You know he understands that you’re just out there working hard and trying to do the best you can.
Question: After being drafted by different Major League Lacrosse teams, it looks as though you could playing each other as opponents rather than teammates next season. What will it be like not having your twin on the team anymore?
Rhamel: It will definitely be different not having someone you’ve grown up with and someone you’ll always be close with to play with.
Shamel: There’s only so much we can control. We can’t control what team we go to. If we had a choice, we’d maybe go to the same pro team. But when you’re dealing with other people’s money, you don’t have as much of a choice.