The relationship between brothers is often too complicated for even brothers to fully understand, let alone communicate to the world beyond, especially when their immediate world beyond knows their life history – where they grew up and went to high school, where they went to college and what they’ve done since.
When you throw into that the fact that the two brothers in mind – Taylor and Trevor Crabb – were, for a period of two years, also simultaneously maintaining the most volatile of relationships – business partners, roommates, volleyball partners, running among the same group of friends – it would have been quite curious if they didn’t fight a bit than to the extent they did.
So yes, when Taylor and Trevor Crabb played beach volleyball together, as they did at the professional level in 2015 and 2016 and in various tournaments in 2011 and 2013, there were times they didn’t get along.
And there were times – almost all the time, really – on the court, that it just didn’t matter.
“It’s every partnership,” Taylor said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “The longer you’re with someone, the more stuff is going to get on your nerves. Being brothers just amplifies it that much more. For the most part we were able to put it behind us and perform, and we played great for the year and a half that we were together. But just like every partnership it gets harder and harder as it goes on.”
Watch any sibling partnership and you will see much of the same. Nicole and Megan McNamara at UCLA “will say things to each other they would never say to a different partner,” former Bruin assistant coach Jeff Alzina said. But they’re able to snipe at each other, to demand more, because they’re sisters. The McKibbins, Riley and Maddison, are no different. This is just what siblings do.
They demand more. Expect more.
And besides, it’s not as if a true blood relationship is needed to dig at one another. Growing up, the Hawaiian crew – the Crabbs, Bourne, McKibbins, Brad Lawson, Spencer McLaughlin – simply labeled Taylor “little shit.” Nobody is quicker to talk a little trash to Trevor than Bourne, his own partner, and vice versa.
“They still try to give me crap,” Taylor said, “but it’s getting harder to.”
The point in their careers is a rare one for siblings of any sort in the sense that, 18 months from now, it is not all that unlikely to see both Crabbs in the Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020. Taylor and Jake Gibb are the No. 2 team in the U.S., Bourne and Trevor No. 3.
“You really gotta stay present in it,” Bourne said. “It’s such a long process. As much as our sport weighs on Olympics, you want that label, that’s everyone’s dream, it’s literally one tournament of your whole career. If you get caught up in two years of that certain event putting pressure on every other event, you’re really wasting your time. You just had a great finish on the world tour? Enjoy that. Be there.”
And so the process begins. Taylor and Gibb are in Sydney this week for a three-star, their first event of the Olympic push and of the 2019 season. Trevor and Bourne skipped Sydney, focusing instead on a four-star in Doha the following week. By 2020, three kids from the Outrigger Canoe Club could be donning the red, white, and blue.
“It’s pretty nuts,” Bourne said. “We were – well, we still are – cocky little shits.”
You see, whether the birth certificates say so or not, this Hawaiian bunch is a family. And, like most competitive siblings, the trash talk never stops, no matter what side of the net you’re on.