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By Marta Lawrence
From left to right: Alex Moore, Zach Moore, Pittsburgh-Bradford head coach Andy Moore, and Sam Moore. Photo by: Alan Hancock
Student-athletes often refer to their teams as family, but few share as much genetic code as the men’s basketball team at Division III Pittsburgh-Bradford. Long-time coach Andy Moore and his three sons, Zach, Sam and Alex, are playing together for the first time this season.
Zach, a redshirt senior and communications and criminal justice major, was the first to suit up for the Panthers. Although he was offered a scholarship to another school, the eldest Moore says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play for his dad.
He’s quick to point out, though, that the choice was his. His dad never pressured him.
“It’s something that I had quietly hoped for myself,” says coach Moore. “I never pushed for it, but I was excited that they all decided to be here.”
A few years after Zach joined the team, his brother Sam made the move. “I really wanted to play for my father,” Sam, a business and elementary education major, says. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was little.”
This year, Alex joined the crew. Alex and Sam played together on their state-champion high school team, but Zach was already off to college by the time Alex made varsity. So, the three boys have never played on the same team.
Photo by: Alan Hancock
The younger Moore says playing with his brothers is “awesome. I’ve always wanted to play with both of them.”
The Moores have two other basketball players in their ranks, a brother in the seventh grade and a sister in high school. Coach Moore says he and his wife never forced basketball on their kids. They allowed them to find their love of the game on their own, which meant trying several sports along the way.
Because Moore was always coaching, he says he missed a lot of his kids’ games growing up. Having his three sons together has helped him get back some of that lost time.
“Usually this is the time when parents let them go,” says the coach. “I still get to see them every day and that’s pretty neat.”
Having your dad as coach comes with a price, however.
“I find myself really being harder on them, a lot harder on them than the other guys,” Moore admitted. But, he says, “They expect that and they kind of want that. They want to be pushed.”
“He’s our dad,” Sam says, “so he can do that to us.”
So far, the rest of the team has been very accepting of the unique situation.
“They see how hard all three of them work,” coach Moore says. “I think to them they’re just another teammate. I don’t think they really even look at the fact that they’re brothers.”
The three brothers live on campus with three other teammates and spend time together off the court. “It’s only made our relationship that much better,” says Sam. “We share a common interest. We love to play basketball.”
Photo by: Alan Hancock
Having his big brothers watch his back and help with the transition to college has been helpful for Alex. But, he says, he can’t always escape the younger brother role. “I get beat up a lot,” he joked.
“To see them mature and help the team in any way possible has been exciting,” coach Moore says. “It’s been a unique experience being able to watch them grow.”
Like many families, this holiday season the Moores might play hoops together in their driveway. The family is on its third rim, but their dad is unlikely to join them. “I don’t try to play with them anymore,” he says, laughing. “They’re too good.”