Yingling brothers helped key historic season for Gettysburg
The siblings combined for 98 goals in their high school careers
Matt and Adam Yingling are accustomed to people thinking they’re twins.
It’s an easy mistake to make. Except for their haircuts, the two brothers look extraordinarily alike — both about 5-foot-8 and lean with blonde hair and blue eyes. But while Adam is a high school senior, Matt is just a junior.
“We get that a lot,” Adam said. “Actually some people think Matt’s the older one. That’ll help me later in life of course.”
The two brothers clearly enjoy teasing each other. That is of course, when they’re not on the soccer field, where they were the leading scorers for a Gettysburg team that finished 23-2 this season.
Over the past three years, both Adam and Matt have established themselves as two of the best soccer players in the area, scoring a combined 98 goals in their careers. But balancing being teammates and brothers was a learning process for both.
“There’s definitely negatives and positives,” Matt said. “It’ always nice for him to try stuff out first, if he makes a mistake I can learn from it. But without him, I wouldn’t possibly be the player I am today without his guidance all these years.”
That process started when the two were just kids. Both gravitated toward soccer as soon as they were old enough to kick a ball, and by the time they were in grade school, Matt had excelled enough to play a year up with Adam’s grade.
Adam said it never bothered him having his younger brother on his team, as he realized early on that Matt “could handle himself with the big boys.” At the same time, he said he never hesitated to push Matt harder than the rest of his teammates.
While that wasn’t always the easiest thing for Adam to do, he did it because he realized the potential his brother had.
“It’s tougher to get him to do what I want but it’s easier to talk to him,” Adam said. “I guess a good way to sum it up is tough love. I know what he’s capable of so I hold him to a higher standard.”
Matt eventually returned to play with his own grade in middle school, where he said the skills he developed while playing with Adam’s class helped tremendously. The two became teammates again in high school, when Matt made varsity as a freshman in 2013.
It didn’t take too long for the pair to become driving forces behind Gettysburg. By last season, when Adam was a junior and Matt a sophomore, the two were already the top offensive players on a Warriors squad that finished 17-6.
But even now, the two admit that playing together for the Warriors didn’t always go smoothly, and the two argued on the field at times.
“Last year we were maybe more selfish, maybe wanted to play for ourselves,” Adam said. “Of course we were still great teammates, but I think this year we are used to the partnership up top.”
So what changed over the past year? According to head coach Scott Hancock, the two realized that it’s their job to make each other better and not compete with each other.
“There’s a little bit of a rivalry there,” Hancock said. "But what I’ve noticed over the past two years, it’s matured to where it’s a healthy rivalry. At a younger age, they just wanted to be better than the other. Now, they root for each other to do well.”
That new comradery helped boost their own performance as well as the team’s. Although the Warriors season ended Saturday with a disappointing 2-0 loss against Northwestern Lehigh in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals, Adam finished the season with 30 goals and 11 assists while Matt had 24 goals and 12 assists. Overall, Adam finished his career as Gettysburg's third-leading scorer with 57 goals while Matt is currently seventh with 41.
Although they both played at an extremely high level this year, they still knew when to give each other a necessary pep talk.
“We’ve definitely had moments this year, where it’s one of us that could have had a finish, or one of us had a mishit,” Matt said. “We go up to each other at the half, say a few words to each other mentally ready. There were some moments where I needed to give him a push."
“That’s a rare occasion,” Adam added. “But if I get carried away he’s the one to settle me down. I’d say we do that for each other.”
The two are close off the field as well. While they don’t always hang out in the same group of friends, they work out together and even play in concert band – Adam plays trumpet, Matt plays tuba – with each other.
Of course, the two won’t be together much longer with Adam graduating at the end of the school year.
Adam, who’s considering a number of colleges including Marshall and Ohio Wesleyan, said a part of him hopes he and Matt will end up as teammates in college. While Matt isn’t thinking that far ahead yet, he believes the example his brother set for him will help him wherever he winds up.
“It’s going to definitely be a new experience playing without Adam,” Matt said. “I’ll be one of the projected leaders next year. Seeing how well he did this year, I’ll try to follow that and do better than he did.”
Bobby Weikert, Adam Yingling and Matt Yingling speak about the brother's relationship and soccer. Matt Allibone