Watching them play soccer, it is clear that Dominic and Lewis Whalen have a connection that only family members share. They are on the same page on the pitch, and both played a major role as goal scorers on Arlington’s 2020 boys soccer team.
The Whalen twins recently came to the Banner newsroom to discuss their soccer career at Arlington, playing amidst the coronavirus pandemic, off-field interests and what’s next for each of them.
Banner: What was it like not only this year, but being able to play soccer with your brother and putting on the Arlington jersey over the last four years?
Dominic: It’s been crazy. I mean, there’s no other player out there who knows my game like he does. Especially this year, we were put in the position where we could really, you know, work with each other and work off of each other, and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s a pretty crazy opportunity.
Lewis: Just having someone on the field that you know you can rely on like him because we’ve played together our whole lives. Yeah, so having someone you can rely on like that’s really nice.
Banner: Favorite moment of your high school soccer career?
Lewis: (2018) State championship, easy. Winning it. That was great.
[Ed. note] Lewis Whalen scored in overtime of the 2018 state championship game, beating West Rutland for the Eagles’ first title since 1995.
Dominic: It’s got to be, it was a once in a lifetime type thing so that definitely stands out for me.
Banner: Taking it into a broader sense. What do you enjoy most about the game of soccer?
Dominic: Outside of the sport, it’s been a really good stress reliever, especially in times like these where there’s was a lot going on. It was nice to be able to just get on the field and and switch my focus to that and it’s definitely been an outlet for me, beyond just the advantages it has on my physical health. It’s been a big part of my life, and I’m so grateful for where it’s taken me so far.
Lewis: I think for me it’s the competitiveness of it, like I just love competing. So it’s a great way to do that.
Banner: With COVID, take me through the mind of a high school athlete. March, things shut down. Summer, we’re not sure what’s going to happen. Fall gets pushed back. Were you nervous about not having a season?
Dominic: Oh absolutely. As a family we’d been talking about it a lot, and there was a period of time there where we just kind of accepted that we probably weren’t gonna have a season. And at the point it was just thinking of other ways to play the game, to stay active with it. But there was definitely a couple moments where we were very nervous that it wasn’t going to work out. So we were just grateful to be out there playing and have that opportunity.
Banner: The moment that you guys realize there is going to be a season, what’s that feeling?
Dominic: It was just obviously a big sigh of relief (at first) and then it was, you know, switching the mindset to okay, it’s happening, let’s get in shape, let’s get the team together, let’s switch the focus from from “what if” to what we need to do now to get ready for our season. Because we didn’t have a big preseason period. We were kind of thrown right into it. It was definitely a sigh of relief.
Banner: Masks on the field, did that take some getting used to? Were you kind of apprehensive about it at first?
Lewis: It definitely took some getting used. There were these mouth guards we had inside the mask that kind of pushed it out away from our face. At first — during preseason especially when it’s really hot out — it would get sweaty and you start breathing it in and it was awful.
Banner: What’s it like to have a shortened senior season?
Lewis: I mean, it’s unfortunate, because like, at least for me I was on pace for maybe 30 goals this season, but it was cut pretty much in half. But other than that, I mean, just not being able to play as much, is just unfortunate.
Banner: Is there a friendly competition between you guys when you’re on the field?
Dominic: Oh yeah, absolutely. I remember this year, one moment that kind of stood out was when we played MSJ (Mount St. Joseph Academy)
[Editor’s note:] Dominic and Lewis both recorded a hat trick in an Oct. 28 Division IV playoff matchup where No. 5 Arlington hosted No. 12 MSJ. Arlington won the game 7-0. Lewis and Dominic also recorded two assists each in the game.
Dominic: I mean, we didn’t really go into it having, you know, expectations for huge scoring performances as individuals. We definitely wanted to go out there and get a good win as a team, but as the shots started falling and as the game started going on it became obvious that we were definitely in the driver’s seat and then at that point, we like to have a bit of fun with it. And yeah, obviously as individuals we want to score, but we also want to see each other do well. We like to be pretty unselfish and set each other up, but if the shots there, we got to take it and it was. That game was a lot of fun. It definitely stood out as one of the favorites of the season.
Banner: So when did you guys start playing soccer?
Dominic: I’d say roughly, we probably started taking it seriously around eight or nine years old. At Arlington, we actually have a really good youth program in place. That’s thanks to John Werner, he’s done a really good job. Him and Dino have created a really good program for our younger kids, developing them early. We’re definitely products of that.
Banner: Talk a little bit about your relationship as brothers, when you’re not on the soccer field. What are you guys like doing? Would you say you guys are close?
Lewis: Yeah, definitely. We kind of do everything together. We do the same stuff, we’re interested in the same things.
Dominic: Oh yeah, we’re on the same team in the video games. We have the same friend group. You know all of our extracurricular activities are all in common. I couldn’t get rid of him if I wanted to, because we’re always together.
Banner: What kind of music do you listen to pregame?
Dominic: So say we had an away game, on the bus ride over I’m kind of listening to — actually — some calmer music, just to get my nerves down. And then once we’re on the field, it’s something to get you in the mood to play. Meek Mill was a big one. He’s got some pretty fiery music.
Lewis: (In agreement) Good hype up music.
Banner: Same thing for you, Lewis?
Lewis: Yeah, pretty much. Slow music first and then once it’s game time some hype up music.
Banner: When you’re off the field, what do you listen to?
Dominic: I think rap music stands out. Multiple different genres inside of rap music. It’s such a huge genre that there’s something for everyone in there.
Banner: Do you play any other sports?
Dominic: Yeah. Actually, we both participate in track and field. I’m actually wearing my state championship hoodie from 2018. I run distance, he’s more of a sprinter.
Lewis: I’m not good at track, though.
Banner: So soccer’s your main sport?
Lewis: Soccer’s my main thing. We play basketball, we do track, but I’m not good at either one (laughing).
Dominic: Soccer, basketball and track.
Banner: In school, do you have a favorite subject?
Lewis: I like chemistry. I’m taking AP chemistry this year and I was enjoying it.
Dominic: I’d say this year my favorite is definitely anatomy. Anatomy and physiology.
Banner: Favorite teacher?
Both at once: Hooper Pickering! [history teacher]
Dominic: We’ve had some great teachers over the years, but this year in particular, I’d say, Mr. [Brian] Howe, who’s my anatomy teacher and Hooper who I have for most of my most of my classes nowadays.
Lewis: My old math teacher, Mr. [Aaron] Wood. He was the girls soccer coach at Arlington. I played an indoor league in Bennington on his team and he helped me out quite a bit with soccer stuff just giving me advice and stuff like that.
Banner: So you guys are planning to go to college. Do you have a major in mind that you’d like to focus on?
Lewis: I’m not sure.
Dominic: I’m looking, as of right now, maybe something like athletic training or sports management or something like that. I mean, sports is really all I’ve all I’ve known for the past, I don’t know, memorable years, and I don’t think I’ll be ready to give it up after college so I want to stay involved with it for as long as I can.