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posted: 5/4/2012 12:01 AM

Carmel's Brennan clan shares in athletic excellence

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  • Brothers Brian, left, and Sean Brennan are carrying on a family tradition of big sports achievement at Carmel Catholic.

    Brothers Brian, left, and Sean Brennan are carrying on a family tradition of big sports achievement at Carmel Catholic.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald


In a family with six kids, sharing is a must.

Brian and Sean Brennan, just one year apart, are the youngest of a Brady Bunch-like group that includes three boys and three girls. They grew up in the same bedroom, played with the same toys and wore each other's clothes. Now, they drive the same car.

"We grew up knowing about sacrificing for the greater good," said Brian, a senior at Carmel. "We've had to share money, video games. We've had to share everything."

Brian and Sean, a junior at Carmel, have also shared the same frustration over the years, one that older brother John can relate to as well.

All three Brennan boys got their mom's gene for height. And Cathy was a gymnast back in the day, all 5-foot-1 of her.

She was a serious athlete, though, just like her father Robert Hanrahan, a college track star at Notre Dame who is in the Hall of Fame there as a champion sprinter.

Luckily for the boys, the Hanrahan speed and athleticism got passed down along with the height. So John, who is 5-foot-7, and Brian and Sean, who are 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-4, respectively, have been able to compensate fairly well.

So well, in fact, that they're now known as part of one of the most athletic families in Carmel history.

All three boys have starred in multiple sports for the Corsairs. And Brian and Sean are currently working together in the outfield for one of the best baseball teams in the state.

Brian starts in left field while Sean starts in either center or right field. The two young Brennans also teamed up on the football field. When Brian wasn't playing quarterback this past fall, he was in the defensive backfield with Sean at safety.

"Our speed has helped us make up for our size," Sean said. "But I also think it's our work ethic and the way we've learned the game. Our dad (John) taught us very well. He taught us the right way to play all the sports we do, and he taught us to work harder than everyone else."

John, who graduated from Carmel in 2007, set the bar high.

He was brought up to the varsity for the playoffs in both football and baseball as a freshman at Carmel. That year, the Corsairs won the Class 6A football state championship and took third place in state for baseball.

One year later, John was starting at quarterback and at shortstop, as a sophomore. He also started on the varsity basketball team as well.

"John was my biggest influence in sports," Brian said. "I saw how he was able to do a lot of great things even though he wasn't a big kid. I saw John succeed and I wanted to be just like him.

"Some coaches may think that height and size is everything but I think my brothers and I are the biggest examples of how it doesn't have to mean anything."

Brian wound up earning starting spots in football and baseball as a junior while Sean first started for the football team as a sophomore last year. His first start in baseball came this year.

"One of the things I like about the (Brennan) brothers is that they don't let anything stop them. I think they've used their height as a chip on their shoulder, or a source of motivation," Carmel baseball coach Joe May said. "They work really hard and they're out to prove people wrong and I think they've really inspired their teammates with what they've been able to do."

The brothers first formed that chip on their shoulders at home.

Day-to-day survival in a big family, which also includes sisters Meghan, Molly and Kelly, is never easy.

"No one ever cut me slack just because I'm the youngest," Sean said. "There was a lot of competition and there was a lot of rough-housing. You grew up fast.

"But I also loved it. I learned a lot from my older siblings and I got to experience a lot of cool things at a young age. I would say I'm close to all my siblings."

No one is closer to Sean than Brian, though. And the two are dreading the day when they won't share the outfield anymore.

Brian will be a student at Illinois State next year while Sean runs through his senior year at Carmel by himself.

"I know I'll come back a lot to watch Sean's games," Brian said.

Like other Carmel fans, Brian will also be watching the end of special era at the school.

"It's going to be weird to be the only one left next year," Sean said.

It will be even weirder when there are no Brennans left at Carmel at all.

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