Brian and Brent Kallman have been teammates in the past.
The last time Brian and Brent Kallman teamed up in competition was when they were in grade school and would take on their brothers and sisters in the basement or backyard in games of two-on-two or three-on-three baseball, basketball, soccer, football or even less conventional sports.
“I remember one game where we put a basket against the wall -- just a little basket about three feet from the ground, and it was full contact,” Brent said. “Get the ball into the basket by any means necessary.
“American Gladiator style,” Brian added.
Years later, Brian and Brent are back on the same squad. Except this time, the sport is a little more traditional, the competition a little less familiar and the stage a little bigger.
Brent signed on with Minnesota United FC last summer, joining veteran Brian on the North American Soccer League squad.
“For me it’s awesome,” Brian said. “Being seven years older than him I never really thought I’d be around.”
Brian graduated from Woodbury High School in 2002, while Brent received his diploma from WHS in 2009. Still, despite the age difference, the two have reached the same stop at two different points in their careers.
They’ve taken two similar paths to get here.
Brian, 30, attended Jacksonville University for three seasons before transferring to Creighton for his senior campaign.
That’s when Brent, 23, came down to Omaha, Neb., to watch his older brother play.
After one game Brian asked his brother what he thought about Creighton’s stadium -- Brent loved it. It was then when Brian told Brent he would be able to play there one day. Brent disagreed, but Brian stood firm on his stance.
“I’ve always believed in Brent,” Brian said. “He’s an amazing player.”
Brian was right. Brent accepted a role to play as a recruited walk-on for Creighton and experienced a wildly successful career with the Blue Jays before joining United to start his professional career alongside his brother.
“I guess I saw what he was able to accomplish, and I didn’t necessarily want to follow the same path as my brother, but that’s just how it worked out,” Brent said. “Being at Creighton, being around the Midwest, that’s also what gave me my opportunities to be around here.”
Brian’s confidence in his brother stems from the dominance he witnessed from his younger sibling’s early years as he attended nearly all of his youth games.
“I always remember Brent being good with both feet and scoring five goals a game when he was little and being one of the top players, if not the top player,” Brian said. “I’d always watch. I don’t know if it was because we’d be playing a lot. He just naturally picked it up.”
All six of the Kallman children watched each other’s games growing up, something their father, Rich, said they enjoyed.
“I know families with kids now, some of the kids don’t go to their siblings games or dread going and are like ‘Do I have to go?’” Rich said. “But that was nothing like with our kids. They all wanted to go.”
Rich said he thinks all of his kids learned from each other, particularly Brian.
For Brent, Brian’s lessons are still being taught. When Brent joined United, Brian spoke with his brother about how the professional game is faster and the importance of being mentally and physically prepared for the longer season.
“He really helped my transition as far as last year being my first year being pro,” Brent said. “If I had any questions or any concerns or anything like that I’d just go to Brian right away. And he’s been in the league for eight years now and he really helped me get my start.”
But once the two defenders are side-by-side on the pitch, it’s often Brent doing the majority of the instructing.
“In one ear, out the other,” Brian joked. “I’ve got to listen because he helps direct me on the field. He’s the center back and I’m an outside back, so he sees different things than I see. So even if I agree or disagree I have to listen to him and we have to sort it out later.”
Brian and Brent have already shared a few memories since Brent joined the squad last season. One of Brent’s fondest recollections was last season in Tampa Bay, when he made his first start with the club, with Brian joining him on the back line. Both of the brothers still savor a game earlier this season when they played key roles in the United’s 2-0 victory over English Premier League foe Swansea City last month.
“That was a special day for the whole state, the organization and being able to sit and play 90 minutes and shutout an English Premier League team was something special,” Brian said.
The two hope to share a few more memories together, but how much time they have left as teammates on the field is anyone’s guess. Brian said he’s nearing the end of his career, while Brent is still in the early stages of his. Brian said Brent is a great center back who is joining an organization that’s in much better shape than the Minnesota Thunder squad Brian was drafted by years ago.
“He’s going to have a long, successful career,” Brian said.
Still, regardless of when their time as United teammates comes to an end, Brian and Brent will still have the opportunity to play with, or against, each other on other platforms. Those same siblings who went toe-to-toe with one another every night in the backyard as kids still get together for the occasional game night.
“It’s a very intensely competitive family,” Rich said. “Those game nights are just as competitive as any soccer game on the field. Nobody likes to lose.”