All-Star Team

The Herald | All-Star Team

 

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Story by Allen Laman
Photos by Marlena Sloss

We know them as the sports family.

The one with the upperclassman boy who led a football team to the state semifinals, a baseball team to the state finals and a basketball team to a sectional championship — all in the calendar year.

The one with the junior girl who has already set the single-game girls basketball scoring record at Southridge High School, played an integral role in the softball team’s 2019 sectional title run and has served as a force on the Raider volleyball team.

The one with the oldest brother, who played three sports at the same school in the mid-2010s, and the one with the two youngest siblings, who could end up being the most gifted of the bunch.

Jayden, Colson, Myah, Avah and Hudson.

Five names synonymous with athletic prowess and achievement in Dubois County. A few years from now, the Montgomerys could be known far beyond Southwestern Indiana.

T.J., left, and his sons, Colson and Hudson, compare shoe sizes on Nov. 7.

“Coming out of Southridge, my dad always says he wants it to be known as, ‘This is where the Montogmerys went to school,” said Colson, who is entering his senior year at the Huntingburg high school and has committed to play baseball at Indiana University. “If somebody’s driving by, they see Southridge and be like, “That’s where the Montgomerys went to school.’

“Not just one of us,” he added. “But all of us.”

This should not be a surprise to those paying attention. Those who have seen or read about the Holland family members growing and developing their abilities over the years know the kids are driven, motivated and committed to their crafts.

The statistics Myah and Colson have put up in their years at Southridge are mind-boggling. But the constantly busy lives all of the Montgomery siblings live can be grueling and wear them down.

Off the courts and fields and removed from the bright lights, however, they share a less-publicized bond. Sure, the connection the talented siblings and their parents share is filled with competition and teasing. But it is also filled with necessary care that will lead them to successful lives whether or not they make it to the big leagues.

“There’s a lot of love,” said Jayden, a 22-year-old who attends Logan University in Chesterfield, Missouri. “And there’s a lot of compassion and kindness. And we all show it in our own, different ways. But there is a lot of that, and I think that it’s definitely unconditional.”

Competition is in the siblings’ blood. Their father, T.J., played basketball and baseball at Forest Park in the 1990s, and he went on to shoot hoops at Danville Area Community College for a season. Lisa, the kids’ mom, played basketball and volleyball and high-jumped at Southridge around the same time.

T.J. explained that the youth sports world is vastly different today from what it was back when he and Lisa were steeped in it. Mom and Dad would play on little league and school teams just for the fun of it.

“But now, it’s totally different,” T.J. said. “Every weekend, you’re playing AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) somewhere or they’re training somewhere. For us, it was just for fun. For them, every kid nowadays, if they wanted to, can play college sports, wherever they want to go. Anybody, even if you’re a mediocre kid, you could go play somewhere. So, all these kids, they’re trying, they’re doing all this extra stuff to get better so that they could go to a college.”

Avah watches Hudson shoot a basketball at their half-court barn at home before going to their respective sports practices on Feb. 18.

This never-ending schedule is the foundation of the Montgomerys’ busy lives. Being great — even at a young age — comes at a cost. Countless training camps across the country, countless hours of practice in facilities located on the Montgomery’s property, and then there’s all the work they put in with their teammates — both on their schools’ teams and their travel squads. All the obligations and responsibilities of a modern youth athlete are exemplified fourfold by a divided calendar that hangs on the wall of their kitchen.

Marked with bright ink and synchronized across all the family’s cellphone calendars, the comprehensive planner is filled with practices, games, training camps and travel plans. Sitting just a few feet away from that schedule board, T.J. acknowledged that sometimes, families take it too far.

“And they push their kids too much,” he said. “And we don’t do that.”

But he admitted he used to. Reflectively, T.J. said he might have pushed Jayden too much back when he was a boy. Dad really wanted his son to play baseball, but Jayden never took to it like his father. Through this, T.J. learned to pull back and encourage his kids to follow their own paths.

When Jayden remembers those days, though, he’s grateful that he was brought up in a home that valued extra work and encouraged competition. He might not have been a collegiate athlete, but he competes in triathalons. The lessons he learned as a kid have guided his life.

“I think it drove me to always want more,” Jayden said. “The biggest thing I succeeded in was and is schooling, I would say. Just because I really enjoy learning and enjoy school and classes and whatnot, even though some people might call me crazy. And I would say that being pushed at home from a young age definitely set me up to push myself later, especially in college.”

This driving mentality was instilled in each of the Montgomery kids at a young age — and in at least one way, learning it served as another way to connect them to their siblings. When T.J. coached Jayden’s sports teams, for example, he would bring along Colson, who was 4 years younger than the players. Colson would practice against those older kids to develop his skills. Myah would do this same thing when T.J. coached Colson’s teams to beef up her abilities, Avah would practice with Myah’s teammates, and Hudson would play with Avah’s teammates.

T.J. helps Myah put pins on her varsity jacket on Nov. 7.

“So then, when they’d start playing against their own age, it was nothing,” T.J. explained. “They could do whatever they wanted around them.”

The kids get to pick which sports they play and how deep they go into them. (Colson was the star quarterback of the Raider football team in 2018, for example, but opted to leave the team following that season to focus on baseball and basketball).

Pursuing other interests is encouraged, too. For Myah, athletic dominance came after her drive for another hobby fizzled out.

Around the age of 3, before the family’s middle child was draining buckets on basketball courts and hitting dingers on softball fields, she was actually a model. She’d fly out to New York and California to make it to photoshoots for businesses like JOANN Fabric and Craft and Bed Bath & Beyond. When she stopped enjoying it about seven years later, she quit. She knew sports would lead her forward.

“I was like, that stuff’s not really my thing anymore,” she remembered. “So, I liked more competitive and athletic things.” Recently, Myah has modeled for BC Bridal and the Firefly Boutique in Huntingburg.

Now on her own path to college sports, she’s used to athletic comparisons between herself and her siblings. Here’s how she breaks down each of the youngest four Montgomerys.

 

 

Colson practices batting at home on June 3. He is committed to playing baseball at Indiana University and has made sure to keep up a regular practice and workout schedule, especially with the increased free time due to canceled spring and summer sports as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Separated from her by 17 months, 18-year-old Colson is the one who takes control of everything and makes things happen, in a non-hogging way, she said. He’s a team player who is good at everything.

Avah, who is 14, might seem timid at first, but she’ll still burn you and score easily.

The youngest, 12-year-old Hudson, is still developing. But he already knows what he’s doing and is developing into a shot caller.

When asked to define her own playstyle, Myah compared herself to her siblings.

“I would say we all play similarly,” she explained. “I think we’ve all watched each other, so we all have the leader type, and just want to win really bad.”

Without sports, Myah said she’d be bored out of her mind. She dreams of playing college basketball, and though her sophomore basketball season was cut short in 2019 by a devastating ACL injury, she has already been cleared to make her return later this year.

Myah does physical therapy exercises for her ACL reconstruction surgery recovery at home on Feb. 18. In the weeks following her season-ending injury in December, "I just had to sit at practices, and it was so hard to just sit there," Myah said. "Because you go from doing everything and playing all the time to just sitting and watching."

After years of on-field dominance, Colson is set to make the jump to collegiate baseball in 2021. He picked IU because of its location and his relationship with and belief in the coaching staff. He could get drafted into the MLB next year, too, at which point he could decide if he wants to skip college altogether or develop his skills in Bloomington to get a better contract.

“It’s, I guess, a gift and a curse at the same time,” he said. “It’s a gift because it’s like a once in a lifetime, not many people have this opportunity and stuff like that. But at the same time, it’s a curse, because a lot of pressure is put on you.

“You’ve got to perform well. And perform constantly well. You can’t just be off and on.”

Still, it’s all worth it to the incoming high school senior. He loves baseball, and playing at the highest level is his goal. God gifted his family, he said, also crediting the success he and his siblings have experienced to their upbringing.

He said their parents taught them how to work hard and keep after their goals. When he spoke of his relationship with his family members, he described their connections as bonds that can’t be broken.

“Family first,” Colson said. “Because people come and go, but your family is always there. They’ll always be there. Even if you’re apart distance-wise, they’re always going to be there for you because you’re family.”

And though Myah’s and his time at Southridge is quickly ending, another pair of Montgomery siblings will soon walk the halls of the school together. And they could end up being the best of the bunch.

“There’s two more legacies coming up,” Colson said of Avah and Hudson. “I think seeing me and Myah grow up, and what we do, and how hard we work ... I see those two being just like me and Myah. Or better.”

They already have more experience than other kids their age. From watching Colson and Myah, Avah and Hudson already know how to train, and they already know what they have to do to reach to where their older brother and sister have reached.

Their motivations are nearly identical, too. Avah said she plays sports to get better and become No. 1. Hudson likes being the best, and he likes playing with his friends and getting to know them better.

Myah, Jayden and Avah look at family photos from a vacation on Nov. 7. While Jayden encourages his siblings to pursue their athletic dreams, he tries to instill in them the message that their lives are bigger than the sports they play.

The Montgomerys are seen as a sports family. And to be fair, a big chunk of their lives revolves around the games that could one day take them from their rural Indiana home to some of the biggest stages on the planet. But inside that home, between the practices and the games, the Montgomerys make up their own all-star team.

“There’s a lot of give and get, and reciprocity,” Jayden said. “And just genuine love and care for what everyone’s doing. And everyone’s well-being and stuff like that. And I feel like that could get kind of lost in all the hubbub of what our family stands for, in the eyes of the public, with sports and stuff like that.”




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