LARRY LARKIN

Sports Sunday Correspondent



Two are brothers by blood.

All five are brothers by friendship.

Years of friendship and common “likes” and “interests” have bonded the quintet together.

For years, if one was someplace having a good time, chances are one, or more, of the others was somewhere close.

They are friends. Buddies. Pals. Allies. Cronies.

They are teammates. Baseball brought them together as 5-year-olds. Growing up has only brought them closer.

Now, things are about to change for the five young men.

Oh, they will remain on the best of terms, and they will continue getting together. Years of friendship cannot be erased. The changes are coming because the five must now travel in separate directions.

For the first time in 13 years, Jordan Reed, Garrett Steinbrook, Bryan Woody and twins Steffon and Zane Williams will not be hanging out with each other when classes begin for the fall semester.

Members of the 2006 graduating class of Claremore High School, they are preparing for the next stage in their lives. They are getting ready to leave for college.

Here is where the changes come in.

The gang will no longer be together.

Bryan and Jordan will enroll at the University of Oklahoma where each plans to pursue a degree in business.

Garrett is headed to Oklahoma State University where his major will be in pre-veterinarian animal science.

The Williams brothers will attend Connors Junior College at Warner. They have accepted baseball scholarships and both hope to continue playing ball at the Division I level.

Opportunity was taken recently to talk with each of the five. All are ready to take this huge step, but is was clear they will be missing their buddies.

"Sure, I'm going to miss them," Bryan said. "We are all close. Our families are close. We have all traveled together. Stayed at the same motels while playing in various tournaments. We're all family."

Jordan added: "These guys have been my best friends and I have grown up with them. Our parents are all friends, too, and we have spent a lot of time together."

Garrett said: "We all started playing baseball at the same time and have been on the same teams from the first. We are all family and now I am going to miss them very much."

Zane had this to say: "We have played baseball together since the coach-pitch league when Garrett's dad coached us. They are all good guys. We hung out together. Shared lunches. Been teammates a long time."

Steffon then added: "I don't like us going separate ways, and I wish we were all playing now with the (Rogers County) Rangers. I am going to miss being with each of them."

The five played on the same teams coming up through Little League. Garrett's father, Gary Steinbrook, was their team coach.

Later, they played together in the American Legion program.

This has been the first summer all five have not played baseball.

Jordan and Garrett elected to bypass the sport in order to have more free time before leaving for college.

"I'm just taking it easy and having a good time," Jordan said. "I have played a little softball with Garrett for his dad's adult team. That has been fun."

In addition to showing his father some new softball moves, Garrett said he was "mostly hanging out" this summer. He spent this past week at a church camp at Falls Creek with his youth group.

For Bryan, it wasn't a matter of choice. He recently had an operation to repair tendons in his pitching arm.

"The doctor says my arm should recover OK, but my pitching days are over," he said.

As juniors, the five helped the Claremore Zebras capture the Class 5A state championship. Bryan was the lone senior pitcher on this year's squad. He hurt his arm early in the season and was limited to designated hitting duties.

He did try to return to the mound in the playoffs, but he threw only one inning.

What did he do in that single inning?

He struck out the side on 11 pitches.

Following graduation, Zane, Steffon and Bryan went to Orlando, Fla., for vacation. The twins thus missed a few games played by the Rogers County Rangers, the new major team this year for the American Legion.

Both struggled with the bat once they returned, but now they are back in full swing and have helped the Rangers win 16 of the last 18 games.

When told he was probably the reason the twins came back from Florida appearing tired, Bryan admitted, "Well, we did have some fun down there."

While talking with each, it doesn't take long to see that they are well-mannered and polite young men.

When informed about the ensuing article, Garrett asked if he could include something else.

He then said: "Be sure to tell mom and dad thanks for everything."

Each of the five could have said the same thing.

The five, and their parents: Bryan — Jarrett and Marty Woody; Jordan — John and Tracy Row; Garrett — Gary and Jeannine Steinbrook (Garrett), and Zane and Steffon — Brian and Sabrina Willingham.

All five athletes agree their friendships will remain tight. They realize, too, that it will not be like it has been, but a lot of good times are still ahead for them.

Along this line, Zane Williams said: "You can bet Steffon and I will be heading to both Norman and Stillwater this fall to take in some football games. Garrett and Jordan and Bryan need to come up with the tickets for all of us."

And isn't that what buddies are for?