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Men’s Soccer: Soccer bonds Mishus

Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, November 7, 2013

There is one Irish freshman that doesn’t always heed the veteran advice from senior defender Luke Mishu. That’s one of the drawbacks of playing alongside your younger brother.

“It’s a different relationship than I would have with a different freshman, because I might direct a freshman and he’ll say, ‘Alright, I’ll do that Luke, Mr. Senior,'” Mishu said of playing with Mark, his brother and fellow defender. “But it’s a different relationship, so if I’m yelling at him to do certain things, he’s yelling back at me, and it’s not an intimidating relationship.”

But Mark, who played next to Luke during Notre Dame’s 1-0 exhibition loss to Creighton in August, says that the two don’t even need to yell to communicate on the field.

“We have the telepathy,” he said. “We know where each other are going.”

Extraordinary manners of communication aside, the Knoxville, Tenn., natives agree that it’s been great fun to be reunited in South Bend, although Mark has not seen any regular season action in his first year for the No. 1 Irish (10-1-5, 6-1-3 ACC) while Luke has started all 15 games he’s played this year.

“We’ve been being made fun of all year, because we wear almost the exact same thing on the field,” Luke said. “One time I made a bad pass in a practice, and [associate head coach] B.J. [Craig] goes, ‘Come on Mark, you can do better.’ I’m looking around, and I’m like, ‘Mark doesn’t even have the ball. That was my bad pass.’ But it’s good; it’s fun.”

But Luke and Mark aren’t the only members of the family suiting up in South Bend. Their sister, Erin, is a junior midfielder on the Saint Mary’s soccer team. She scored her second goal of the season Saturday when she beat the Adrian keeper for a game-winning goal in double overtime.

“She’s probably our No. 1 fan. She comes to all of our games,” Luke said, noting that Erin is not kept away even by the pouring rain.

Although Mark said he was sold on attending Notre Dame with his older brother when he received his first recruiting letter from the Irish, Erin wasn’t so sure that she wanted to go to school so close to Luke. She hadn’t even heard of Saint Mary’s until her mother said she couldn’t visit Notre Dame’s campus without looking at the sister school across the way.

“I had the initial reaction, ‘All girls; I don’t know how I feel about that,'” Erin said. “I was like, ‘Alright, let’s get this Saint Mary’s visit over with.’ But I stepped on campus, fell in love with it immediately, and it was the only school I applied to.”

Erin also didn’t plan on following her older brother into college soccer. A former dancer and gymnast, she only decided to try out for the college team after her last season of high school soccer ended.

“I didn’t really consider collegiate soccer a possibility for me,” Erin said. “It wasn’t until the first semester my senior year after my season ended that I was like, ‘Okay, well I’m not done playing yet.’ I still love the sport, and I wanted to continue with it. So I went out for tryouts.”

Although the three oldest Mishu siblings all play collegiate soccer (they have two younger sisters, Anne, 17, and Kate, 14), soccer was not their first sport.

“We all did gymnastics for a little while,” Erin said. “We all find it really helpful with all the sports we’ve ever played, just because it helps your coordination a lot.”

Mark agreed that gymnastics – which started as an activity to keep the homeschooled siblings busy and active once they were done with their lessons for the day – is still paying dividends today.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes into gymnastics that correlates to soccer, like balance, like strengthening,” Mark said. “If you can stay in gymnastics through eighth grade like Luke did, you’re going to be so much stronger than most of the kids out there on the field.”

But not every competitive activity has been as positive. Board games have proven to be more contentious than any contact sport in the Mishu house.

“It quickly became a guys versus girls atmosphere, with Mark, myself, and my dad versus my mom and the three girls,” Luke said. “And it inevitably ended with some board-flipping, people being sent to their rooms, ‘You’re ugly, I don’t like you.'”

“It got personal really fast,” Mark added.

Although that competitive fire is still propelling the Mishus past their opponents on the field, the siblings say that get-togethers arranged between their busy schedules are making their college years more enjoyable.

“When Erin came up and played at Saint Mary’s, that was unexpected, but it’s been nice,” Luke said. “Whenever the family visits, it’s like a family reunion every other weekend.”

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu