When Mike O'Toole and Brandon Rea were elected co-captains for this year's Division Avenue varsity boys basketball team it followed a pattern of similarities in their high school careers.
They are about the same size and normally play the same position. As a result, they often face each other in practice and it can get very competitive, but they remain friends.
"Both players are very hard workers and are great examples for the rest of the team to follow," said Coach Don Mackay. "They're leaders both on and off the court, so it was easy to see why they were elected co-captains."
Both players take the position seriously.
"It was really nice to know that you have the respect of your teammates," said O'Toole on his selection.
"We try to make sure that everyone is working hard and we try to keep up morale, so that we can stay together as a team, explained Rea of his duties as a captain. He held a pasta party to get the Dragons together before the first league game."
Both had similar statistics last year, with Rea having a 10.3 scoring average, while O'Toole scored 9.1 points per game. Each averaged just over four rebounds per contest.
With a more diversified attack this year, both players have seen their averages dip just a bit. While both are scoring eight points per game, each has seen their shooting percentages go up, for both two and three point shots, while their overall play has also improved.
When they complete their high school careers, both are planning on majoring in education in college.
O'Toole plans on majoring in special education in college. He had been working with special education students in gym classes since being asked by physical education teacher Sean Smith. O'Toole plans to play lacrosse in college. While at Division, he has been on the varsity lacrosse team as well as varsity basketball for the past three years. He earned All-Conference recognition last year in lacrosse and was awarded with a sportsmanship award by the Nassau County Basketball Coaches Association last year.
Rea has always had an interested in history and would like to teach social studies at the high school level. He carries a 90 average. He's been involved with the student council and has been on the varsity soccer team for three years. Last year he was named to the All-Conference team in basketball.
Both student/athletes include Cortland on their list of college choices and would both like to continue their friendly rivalry on the basketball court. O'Toole also includes Oneonta high on his list of colleges, while Rea is also considering Genesseo.
The similarity continued this past summer, when both worked as lifeguards. O'Toole has been involved with the Town of Hempstead for several years, while Rea worked at the LuHi Camp at Lutheran High School. Both have even been called upon to perform rescue procedures with swimmers either falling off a diving board or just not being able to make it to the side after entering the pool.
"They share a most important characteristic in that they are hard working student athletes, who know that in order to succeed, they must work hard to achieve their goals," exclaimed Coach Mackay.