Three brothers setting marks for Falcons athletics
By David Yarger
Brothers - they fight together, cry together, live together and have each other's backs. For Zack, Tyler and Evan Belter, they do all of that and keep each other on the correct path while playing hockey and lacrosse for the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons.
Zack, a senior and the oldest of the three, was a four-year standout defenseman on the Falcons hockey team, which reached the New York State Finals. Zack was a First-Team All-State and First-Team All-Federation award winner, with four goals and 14 assists on the year. Along with hockey, Zack stood out on the lacrosse pitch as a potential All-American nominee with 138 ground balls, tops for Class B.
Tyler, who will move up to varsity hockey next season, was a top defenseman, like Zack, on the junior varsity and was selected to the Federation JV All Star Game. In lacrosse, Tyler, a sophomore, was called up to varsity near the end of the season and made the most of his time, scoring four goals, including his first in a debut game versus North Tonawanda, two versus powerhouse Akron High School and one in the Falcons' quarterfinal playoff game. Tyler also added three assists in his brief time with varsity.
Evan, a seventh-grader and the youngest of the bunch, is currently playing modified hockey and lacrosse. On the ice, Evan currently has six goals and five assists in eight games and has scored two game-winning goals. Evan has also succeeded on the junior varsity lacrosse team.
It's rare to find three brothers in the same athletic program all at once, but the trio was happy they could all make a mark on Falcons athletics.
"It's definitely cool to see," Zack said. "It stinks not being able to make a lot of the JV games to see them play, but now that I'm all done I will come back next year and watch them."
Evan said he enjoys looking up to his two older brothers to help set the right path.
"I love looking up to both of them, watching them play the games, dominating, it's just awesome to learn from them," Evan said.
Tyler added that seeing Zack earn a Division 1 scholarship to play lacrosse at St. Bonaventure is something that'll motivate him to get better.
"Just looking up to my older brother playing D-1 makes a huge word to our name and makes me have to work harder," Tyler said.
Zack, who has seen his two brothers grow through the years, said they both have promising futures.
"Tyler has great vision. He's always had a great shot, but over the last couple years on JV I really started to see his feeding abilities from behind the cage," Zack said. "Evan's just a gamer. He's got stick skills that are way beyond his years, he's got a cannon for a shot and I can't wait to see what they turn into."
Obviously, sometimes three brothers can get a little rowdy, but the three said they have a good relationship and push each other to be the best they can.
"During lacrosse season, believe it or not, we got along pretty well. Other months of the year it's chaos, but we're competitive with each other and we're always going at it at home and we all wanna be the best," Zack said.
As the youngest, Evan said the two older brothers may try to mess with him, but it's all in good, fun, competitive spirit.
"Usually, we're just - for lacrosse - focused. We like having fun in the back yard and we just work hard and try to get better," Evan said.
In the middle, Tyler said he tries to be a role model for Evan, all while looking up to Zack.
"I just like setting a good example for the little one and trying to be just as good as the oldest," Tyler said.
While Zack felt he was the best athlete of the bunch and Evan agreed, Tyler begged to differ and said, "The middle's always the best."
As far as high school careers go, Zack has set the bar high, winning two sectional titles with hockey in three chances, and playing in two sectional title games for lacrosse.
Amidst the success, Zack said, "It's definitely going to be a fun few years to see what they can do."
Evan and Tyler agreed that as of now, Zack has had the best high school career, but they're coming for him.
Evan said, "He's been working real hard on varsity trying to do everything he can."
Tyler added, "As of right now, Zack, because his size, weight and length just give him advantages in any sport he plays."
With that, Evan and Tyler said they've been able to learn a lot and enjoy themselves while watching Zack progress over the years.
"He's a great takeaway guy, it's like he predicts when the ball is going to be passed, because he just deflects balls left and right and that's awesome to see him be a great player out in the field," Evan said.
Tyler said, "I was little when I would watch him play lacrosse and then I wanted to get into it, but actually playing with him was probably one of the best year's of my life in sports."
Zack added he's also learned a lot from his two younger brothers.
"After games when I'll get in the car and ask them what I could've done better, they're always rattling stuff off, because everyone sees the game from a different perspective. And I always like that they're honest with me, because that always makes you better," Zack said.
As time goes on and Zack graduates from N-W in June, Evan and Tyler will set certain goals for themselves.
"The goal is to get better," Evan said. "He (Zack) set the bar for us, so we basically have to show what we can do and not let the name down."
Tyler added, "Basically set an example for the younger and live up to the name and what Zack has done throughout his high school career of sports."
Zack had a bit of advice for his brothers as they continue their careers as Falcons.
"Never settle. ... You can never be satisfied. If you're satisfied with just winning the section, you shouldn't be playing. You gotta want to win the section and keep going farther."