Kari Hemmen gets to enjoy a unique opportunity every Saturday in the fall football season.|
Like any parent of a collegiate football player, she goes to St. Ambrose games to watch her son, Jake, play on the defensive side of the ball.
But when the Bees have the ball, she is just as anxious and focused on the action on the field. That's because she is watching her little brother, Mitch Overstreet, a hulking tight end.
"It's very unique,'' said Kari. "It's very fun. Both are very passionate about athletics, this team and they are good boys. ... It is stressful, too, just because you want them to both be on the field and have the opportunities.''
It is pretty special for the two 22-year-olds to be on the same field together, too, after growing up on opposite sides of the river – Mitch going to Bettendorf High School and Jake being an Alleman prep. It is also quite unique for uncle and nephew to be playing the same collegiate game. Making the relationship even odder is that nephew Jake is about six months older than uncle Mitch.
"It's crazy. People ask us about how we're related and ask us to explain it,'' said Overstreet. "We usually just say we're cousins or best friends.''
Shoot, they might as well be brothers. Even Kari thinks so.
"I think of Mitch as one of my kids and not my brother,'' said Kari, joking about the age difference between the siblings. "He's just been around like a son.''
And Mitch and Jake are like brothers – sometimes best friends, sometimes worst nemesis.
"We were pretty close growing up,'' said Jake. "We'd get in little scuffles all the time. There was one time when we were 3- or 4-years old. I stole his Popsicle and he came up and socked me in the eye.''
Overstreet then recalled a treadmill incident "that I ended up biting it,'' he said.
Laughing, Jake told the story that "he was on the treadmill and I sped it up to the fastest speed and he flies off it.''
Both laugh at the story that tells you a lot about these two.
The two have also been really good for each other, too. Jake was one of the reasons Mitch ended up back home playing football. He had gone to North Dakota to play baseball and football and ended up transferring to Johnson County Community College to play baseball.
"I was a pitcher only and couldn't stand it,'' said Overstreet. "I was stuck at a point where I felt like I made the wrong decision.''
But having Jake on the team and admittedly knowing many of SAU's coaches, he said it was an easy decision to come back home, especially with Jake recruiting him.
"They all had a two-year head start, but I fit right in,'' said Overstreet, who is back on the field after a knee injury kept him out of three games.
Ironically, when Overstreet joined the team, Jake found himself off of it. He ran into some academic problems last year, but is back in good stead this year and is one of the mainstays of a tough SAU defense.
"I felt like I let him down,'' said Jake of his ineligibility issues that are now behind him. "It pushed me more having him on the football team. I was one of the reasons he came here and then I wasn't out there on the field. That gave me more motivation to get back out there.''
Together on the field, the standout athletes are enjoying their "family reunion'' and having fun finally playing on the same team.
They're having some fun off the field, too.
"It's cool,'' said Overstreet, "not having to ask mom or dad to go hang out Jake's house.''
Rock island, IL Details
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