words and interviews_Jordan Hagedorn
In the world of sports there have been some pretty impressive sibling duos: Venus and Serena Williams in tennis, B.J. and Justin Upton in baseball, Cheryl and Reggie Miller in hoops and possibly the most famous, Eli and Peyton Manning in football.
In this case, I’ve come across a pretty cool pair of brothers that play different sports, both on the professional level. One happens to catch passes from Eli Manning and the other is a professional soccer player. Kevin Boss is a 6’6″, 253-pound tight end for New York Giants on the East Coast and his older brother Terry is a 6’3″, 205-pound goalkeeper for the Seattle Sounders on the West Coast.
Kevin and Terry grew up in the small logging town of Philomath, Oregon, about five miles west of Corvallis, where they were raised by their parents, Bob and Teresa Boss.
When asked about both of his children becoming pro athletes Bob says, “I had no idea that we’d be at this level, but in hindsight they were always playing at a high level. I still kinda pinch myself and feel pretty blessed that it’s worked out as it has. They continued to pursue this and it’s worked for them.” When I talked with Kevin about playing sports as a youngster he said, “For as long as I can remember I’ve been playing sports and watching sports and have just always been a sports fanatic.” Terry, who is two and a half years older than Kevin says, “We grew up in a pretty small town and I can’t remember a day growing up where we weren’t on the basketball court playing or playing football or doing something. I think we spent the majority of our childhood outside playing sports.”
When asked about his kids playing sports when they were younger, Bob tells me, “Both of them started out playing soccer at a pretty young age. We had AYSO soccer and I coached them both very early on. I was a fan of the game and learned just enough to coach them at the first- through fifth- or sixth-grade level and then turned it over to somebody that really knew the game. In seventh-grade, Kevin decided that he’d much rather play football and Terry obviously continued to play soccer.”
Terry played soccer as a kid and into high school where he was a central defender. He switched over to playing in the goal late in his senior year. From there it sounds like it’s been an interesting road for the elder Boss. Here it is in his words: “I just remember being in the goal and knowing it was something I was supposed to be doing. It just felt so natural that it took off and I played my senior season in the goal and some doors opened to go to college. Even in college I was young and raw but I put a lot of time and work into trying to turn that raw athleticism into being a good goal keeper. I got hurt my senior season (at the University of Tulsa) and only ended up playing eight games, so I didn’t get a lot of looks right out of college. I went to a few combines and ended up signing with a second division team and bounced around a few first and second division teams before getting my chance with the New York Red Bulls a few years ago. Then I was shipped to Seattle last June. Seattle is a lot different than New York. I loved being in New York with my brother but it’s nice to be back on the West Coast since I grew up about four hours from Seattle. The Sounders have 36,000 fans every single game where in New York there might have been 10,000 if you’re lucky. The Stadium here is electric; it’s an amazing place to be in terms of soccer, it’s a great organization.”
As far as Kevin goes, when he transitioned away from soccer in seventh grade, he focused on football and basketball. Here’s Kevin’s sports path according to him: “I played football and basketball in high school. I loved playing football and basketball but throughout high school basketball was the main focus for me. I wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school. I wasn’t really proactive in the recruiting process because it wasn’t until really late in my senior year that I decided that I was going to play football instead of basketball. Throughout high school it was always basketball basketball basketball. I was going to basketball camps, traveling with teams and I just enjoyed playing football with my buddies. We won the state championship in basketball my senior year and in football we lost in the first round of playoffs. I remember walking off the field thinking I still felt like wanted to play but wasn’t sure if I was going to. I felt like I hadn’t reached my potential in football. As far as recruiting goes, there wasn’t a lot of interest. Schools didn’t send me a lot of letters but Western Oregon was one of the few schools that came to watch me play. They were kind of late in the process too. The football coaches just came to watch me play basketball. They just wanted to see my athleticism. I ended up going to Western Oregon to play football and basketball.”
When asked about when he chose football over basketball, Kevin says, “When I got to college, my focus was flip flopped. I played two years of basketball just for fun and am glad I had the opportunity to do that. Junior year, I started to realize that I might be able to keep playing football (after college), so I started putting more focus into that. My senior year, I started getting contacted by scouts. Some doors opened and I was able to perform well and was able to get drafted.” The Giants drafted Kevin in the fifth round of the 2007 draft with the 153rd overall pick. He didn’t play the first eight games of the season but made contributions in some of the key games during the Giants’ run to the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XLII, he had one catch for 45 yards, helping the Giants knocked off the Patriots who were undefeated at the time, which may go down as one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. That victory, along with winning the state basketball title in high school, are a couple of Kevin’s favorite sports memories.
Though they’re very close and supportive of each other, they say they’ve always been extremely competitive. When the Boss brothers were younger, they played a lot of games together. Kevin says, “We were pretty competitive in everything. We’d play videos games and if I beat him we’d end up arguing and play until he beat me or the other way around. We’d be out on the basketball court til all hours of the night playing one on one and just different sports. As far as being real competitive individuals, there was definitely some sibling rivalry. We both have that competitive drive. We both want to win at everything. Growing up we’d always give (Terry) a hard time because he would take it to another level. I’d accuse him of cheating in board games and cards.”
While Kevin mentions sibling rivalry, in the time that I talked to both of the Boss brothers and their dad, I could tell they’re a very close family and there is plenty of love and support to go around. When asked about his sons, Bob Boss says, “They’ve never taken any of this for granted. They’ve worked really hard for what they’ve achieved. They know this will come and go and there’s something thereafter in terms of life after being on the field. I think they have a pretty good perspective of it. They’re both very faith filled boys and I think that has a lot to do with them keeping grounded. I think coming from a small town is part of it as well.” He also mentioned that they’re both extremely loyal to each other and they’re each others’ biggest fans.
I asked them both about having a brother as a fellow pro athlete. Kevin said, “It’s nice to be able to call each other. We talk almost every day and we understand the demand our sports takes on our bodies and the hours we put in and the training. It’s nice to talk to one another and to have someone that understands what the other is going through.” Terry says, “It’s such a blessing to be able to have a brother that plays pro sports. To have someone that close to know what’s going on in your life and things that you can share that maybe only he would realize or he goes through. Whether it be media or just the demands of the game and being away from the wife. It’s so great to have someone so close to you that does what you do day in, day out. No more than a few days go by without us talking on the phone at some point.”
They also work out and train together. “It goes back to being able to call each other and exchange tips and advice. He was the one that was pushing me, being the older brother. When I was coming up in high school, he was always the one to push me. When I was younger I didn’t respond to it real well but now I love it when we‘re able to get together and workout and train together. There’s nothing better” says the younger Boss. Terry mirrors that notion, “I think we both see where we’ve been and encourage each other whether it be over the phone of if he comes out here for the off-season, comes to a few games and we get to go work out together. We’re always trading stories about the newest and latest work out programs and we definitely try to encourage each other and make sure we’re always playing and playing well.”
After talking to them and their father, it sounds like the only difference in the brothers’ personality is that Kevin is more laid back. Terry says about Kevin, “I would say he is more soft spoken than I am. I’m more of the bull in the china shop and he’s just laid back. He’s more patient. He could sit and watch ESPN all day and that’d kill me to do that.” Kevin states, “He’s more high strung, I’m more laid back. I like to sit down and relax and he can’t sit down for too long before he’s wanting to move onto the next thing.”
Regardless of their one small personality difference, it seems that Kevin and Terry are similar in many ways. They work hard, appreciate the things around them and are very family-oriented. When asking about their similarities Terry says, “We’re both real hard working guys. We take a lot of pride in putting the time and work in and just making sure we prepare well and take care of what we can control. We pride ourselves in being hard workers and being good people while we do it. We both realize the game is awesome but there’s more to life than the game. Hopefully we can use the games to impact other people’s lives for the better.”
I asked both Kevin and Terry if they had any advice for young people and here’s what they said:
Kevin – “Find something that you enjoy, something you can pour everything you got into it. Make sure you enjoy what you’re doing. It needs to be something that doesn’t feel like a job. You want to be able to have fun while you’re doing it and just work hard.”
Terry – “I think just control the controllables. There are some things you can control and some things you can’t. You can control your attitude and you can work right. Those are things that nobody, no matter what situation, can take from you. Every day you go to bed you can look yourself in the mirror and say “I worked as hard as I could today or I didn’t.” I think that hard work pays off. Somewhere down the line, it might not be the way you see it but you’ll be rewarded.”
Both Kevin and Terry Boss seem to be doing positive things on and off the field. When not playing their respective sport, they enjoy spending time with their wives and being active in the community. It seems that they have been raised well and their parents are very proud. I asked Papa Boss if he had any advice for sports parents out there in which he responded by saying, “Let them play. Don’t push. If they want to play, fine, go to the games, keep them grounded but don’t push. Enjoy them expressing themselves and being on the field, but know that sports is one of many paths that your kids can take. Support them and be their fans. There will be good times and bad times, you just gotta be there for them. It’ll happen if it’s supposed to.”
When talking about Kevin and Terry, he also adds, “Whatever your kids are doing, if they’re happy and doing it well and life is good for them, as a parent, that’s what you want. This just happens to be a little more high profile than we expected.”
Although it’s more high profile than Mr. Boss and his wife may have expected, the Boss brothers have earned every ounce of their success. They work hard and do things the right way. There’s no doubt they’ll have continued success, whether it be in pro sports or in any other aspect of their lives.