For Charlie

Life as an Older Sister

A lot of people ask me: what is it like to have brothers? Or, what is it like to have Charlie as a brother?

Anyone who knows my younger brother, Charlie Gorres, a 17-year-old senior in high school… they would probably have a slight ounce of pity for me. Such a boisterous, loud, and outgoing kid was probably a monster as a young child.

And to be honest, he kind of was.

Kind of.

I can only say that because I’m his older sister. Also, I could tell you stories about my younger brother that would probably make you pee yourself from laughter, but what I’m writing this to explain to you is simple—I am so lucky to have Charlie as my brother.

He’s definitely my favorite younger brother.

Charlie was born with a head that was slightly larger than average, and in fact, he had issues sitting up and walking because it threw him off-balance. Obviously, over time he grew into his head, but I’ll forever see him as the little kiddo with the big head, face full of freckles, and a massive toothy smile with the gap between his front teeth.

Chuckie was adorable, and we all knew that he was totally aware of it, too. I always had him come with me when I would go door-to-door to sell girl scout cookies, because I wasn’t some sort of fool—with Charlie, I knew I’d be selling a lot more than without. Cute kids and cookies; there’s no better marketing plan than that.

Despite all these things, Charlie never once let his cuteness inflate his head (more than it already was) and he always showed his love for us no matter what. When Charlie put his heart into something, we all knew that magic was going to happen.

So, when Charlie started putting his heart into basketball, we all knew something great was going to be waiting for him.

A Game of Love and Toughness

Charlie has loved the game of basketball ever since he was three-years-old and could participate in the little-kids-camp at Park High School with me. The little practice jersey that he had been given to wear (and feel really cool in) spanned from his shoulders to ankles, and the ball he was dribbling with was the length of his legs.

I think I’m right in saying he has grown a lot since then.

I also think I’m right in saying my younger brother is a freak of nature athlete, but that’s just me.

Over the years, Charlie has been forced to live under the shadow of Aaron, a smart football player (he plays football for the University of Minnesota—Duluth), and me, a pretty cool chick who was good at basketball (I played at the University of North Dakota). So, when he came to Park High School, people would be lying if they said there weren’t big expectations for him.

I knew this would happen, and so did my parents. I don’t know if Aaron did, but that’s him. I’m not going to pretend I could spend a second in his head, so I won’t even try to.

My parents and I knew that Charlie was going to have a chip on his shoulder when he started playing sports for the high school, and on a bigger stage than what he was used to. We were worried that he was going to succumb to the pressures that are placed upon a kid with a natural talent, like most parents would be in that situation.

I’m just an over-protective mother hen of an older sister, so I experienced this too.

Charlie has definitely filled Aaron and I’s shoes that we have left behind for him to deal with at Park High while we moved on with our lives at college. He has filled our shoes, and more. They’re overflowing.

And here is why:

Charlie pours his heart and soul into the game of basketball, and into anything that he does. That’s something called toughness. That’s not something that can be taught, bought, nor coached. That’s something that people need to figure out for themselves. He’s figured this out.

Charlie wears his heart on his sleeve, and he plays basketball with such emotion that you can just feel what he’s feeling on the court. He plays with a smile on his face, and you can’t help but smile in return when you watch him play. His love is simply contagious.

Charlie knows the shadow that he casts over the other kids in the community. He knows the importance of giving that younger kid a high-five, or signing a tee-shirt for that other kid, or taking a picture with that younger boy who looks up at all of Charlie’s 6’5’’ with eyes that glow—and you know the kid is picturing the day he will get to be like Charlie. He knows.

Charlie has dealt with torture while playing the game he loves—tendinosis in his knees, a pain that would make anyone stop and think: is the pain worth it? Well, the pain is worth it for my younger brother, who day-in and day-out battles the chronic stabbing ache in his knees and continues to play with a smile on his face. Because he loves the game.

That is why I am so proud of my younger brother.

He gives everything he has for his teammates and plays his heart out whenever he steps onto the court. I’ve never seen him give up, and that is something that I know I will never see in the future. The grit that Charlie has cannot be faked and trust me—he has it.

One may wonder—why? Why is he so good at basketball? It doesn’t seem like he works that hard, tries that hard, or takes too much effort. Why is he so good at this? Why does he get that playing time? Blah, blah, blah.

The amount of whiplash my brother receives astounds me. Absolutely astounds me. So let me share with everyone a little secret as to why my younger brother is as good of an athlete and as good of a young man that he is:

He is tough.

Flat out, lay it all on the line, tough.

Every second, every hour he can get into a gym and shoot—he does it. Every time he can do those dribbling practices in the garage for that extra thirty minutes after a two-hour practice? He does it. He’d beg Aaron or I to rebound and shoot with him. He’d beg us to play against him.

It is that drive that he has always had, that desire to consistently get better and to never be truly satisfied with where he was at—that is what makes him a good athlete. That’s what makes him a good basketball player.

It’s the toughness and the love that he plays with, something that cannot be faked, that makes Charlie Gorres a good basketball player and even more importantly: a good kid.

The Importance of Family

Charlie, Aaron, and I were so blessed to be born under the loving care of our parents, Eric and Anne Gorres. They have always loved us immensely and unconditionally. Our parents have always been there for us, have always pushed us to be the best selves that we could be, and expected that we hold ourselves to a high standard because they saw our potential. They loved us through the hard times, and loved us through the good ones, too.

Our parents taught us what it means to have a positive relationship, to be loving to your spouse, and to be happy in marriage and in life. They taught us what it means to be in love, figuratively and romantically. They showed us everyday what it means to be tough, as they are two of the toughest people I have ever met.

The best part is, they keep striving to be better every day. That is why I do that too, and that is why Charlie and Aaron do so as well.

Charlie, Aaron, and I are only as strong as our family is. That is what has made us successful in sports and in different areas of our lives. We all love each other immensely, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to write this down.

I know that Charlie is a very, very special young man, with a potential that goes through the roof. The sky is truly the limit for my younger brother, and that is something that we only have God to thank.

Our parents have never cared about the amount of points we scored. What they care about is the body language, the looks on our faces, and how we hold ourselves through the good and the bad times. They care that we do our best and approach the game (and life) with the best possible attitude and effort we can muster.

It’s never been about the points. Not for us.

It’s always been about the love of the game and the toughness that comes with it, and that is what makes my brothers and I good athletes. It’s about the bigger picture. The points are miniscule, they wither away once the game is over. But it is the body language, the toughness, and the love for the game that carries over and effects those around you.

It’s not about the Wins, or the Losses, it’s about how you handle yourself in those moments—that is what our parents taught us.

That is why I am so proud of Charlie, because that is what he emulates. And hopefully, one day, I hope to be half as tough and to be able to say that I have put my entire heart into something just as Charlie does every time he steps on a court. 

Normally, it’s the younger one who wants to be like the older siblings, and it’s the younger one that always has some shoes to fill—but not this time.

This time it is me who has shoes to fill.

And I hope to do so shamelessly.

Congratulations on the 1,000 Points Chuckie.

(Winter 2019)

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