Soccer Siblings Get Their Kicks, Bond On and Off the Field
Esteban Bustillos, managing editor of The Mercury — the student newspaper at UT Dallas — wrote this article.
For the first time, brothers Daaron and Dalton McFarling are playing on the same soccer team. The freshman and senior mechanical engineering students say their experience on the UT Dallas men’s squad has strengthened their bond. (Photo by Yang Xi/The Mercury)
From pro football players Peyton and Eli Manning to tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, sibling athletes can have some of the strongest rivalries. But for UT Dallas men’s soccer players Daaron and Dalton McFarling, the deep bond formed as teammates only strengthens their bond as brothers.
The two mechanical engineering students are playing together for the first time in their careers. Dalton, a senior, is coming off a career season for the Comets. He started all 19 games for the team and earned All-American Southwest Conference second-team honors. Heading into the season, he was tabbed as the ASC preseason defensive player of the year.
Daaron, on the other hand, is in his freshman year at UT Dallas. The rookie from Lovejoy High School in Fairview (17 miles northeast of Richardson), was named the District 10-5A MVP as a senior and led his squad to three district titles, a sectional title and an area title throughout his high school career.
Despite his lack of experience at the collegiate level, Daaron has already shown promise. He started the team’s first game of the season and is averaging 45 minutes of playing time through nine games.
“Physically he’s got the tools, mentally he’s got the right attitude toward the game,” men’s soccer head coach Jason Hirsch said. “Technically, skillwise, he’s got the tools that he needs to play at that position, so we’re hoping he can step up and help us right away, which is what looks like is going to happen.”
Freshman Daaron McFarling (30)
A mix of bad luck and timing allowed Dalton and Daaron to play together at UT Dallas.
Dalton started his collegiate career playing for Trinity University in San Antonio, but was injured in his first season. He received a medical redshirt, a hardship waiver that allowed him to maintain his four years of eligibility and continue playing when he transferred to UT Dallas.
“The thing is, if Dalton had played his first year at Trinity and didn’t get the medical redshirt, they wouldn’t have played together,” Hirsch said. “If I had a family member in the same sport as me, and I had the opportunity to play with them for a year, I think that would be a great thing.”
Now that they are playing together, the brothers have to deal with a bit of competition between them.
“It’s like a father-son fight, you know?” Dalton said. “The father is going to die before he lets his son beat him up.”
For Daaron, the pressure of living up to his older brother’s legacy has its challenges.
Senior Dalton McFarling
“It’s motivation for me,” he said. “Because if I screw up, I hear it almost 24 hours. So it’s just motivation for me to work harder because he’s always watching me, and he’s always mentoring me.”
On the field, they’re primarily defensive players. Daaron lines up as a right-back and Dalton mans the left side of the two central defenders. When they were growing up, however, Dalton was always a defensive player and Daaron was more offensive, according to their father, Brad McFarling. This placement on opposite sides of the field helped to foster the sibling rivalry.
“That just drew out the competition between them,” he said. “One just thinks he can score all the time; the other thinks he can stop him all the time.”
Despite those strong feelings, the two have found playing together has strengthened their bond. Daaron said his older brother has helped him transition into the team easier — telling him about the veterans and how he should act around the other players.
The relationship doesn’t end at the sidelines. Off the pitch, the two enjoy playing video games together and sharing a common love for the English Premier League’s Liverpool FC. Dalton named his younger brother as the best man for his wedding in December.
The Comet soccer teams host the UT Tyler Patriots on Saturday. The women’s team will play at 5 p.m., and the men’s team will follow at 7 p.m. Tickets are free with a Comet Card for UT Dallas students, faculty and staff. General admission tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for students and free for children 6 and younger. For more information, visit cometsports.utdallas.edu.
“They’re as close as any two boys I’ve seen,” their father said. “They battle it out between themselves, but don’t get between them. They’re very close. They’re best friends.”
As members of the men’s soccer team, they will be judged for better or for worse on how they play together as part of a team.
In Dalton’s eyes, the bond they share off the field will only increase their level of play on it.
“Whenever you’re playing on a field with 11 guys, you’re fighting for your brothers, and now you’ve got one that’s blood. It kind of changes the game a little bit,” Dalton said. “He doesn’t want to screw up because he doesn’t want to hear about it. I don’t want to screw up because I want to show him how it’s done right.”
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].