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HAMMOCK: Phillips brothers face off

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Tommy and Julie Phillips will cheer on a winner in the first round of the state basketball tournament. Unfortunately, they also will root for a loser.

Their dilemma this weekend will be a unique one when Berkmar, coached by their younger son Greg, hosts Roswell and its head coach, their older son Ty. Typically they have to flip a coin to decide which son’s game to watch — as they did in the first round of region — but they know exactly where they’ll be Saturday night.

“We’ll be wearing a very neutral color and sitting right in the middle,” Tommy Phillips said.

Two of the more dedicated parents you’ll ever hear of, Tommy and Julie have never missed their sons’ games. Whether they were playing as youngsters, at Lakeside-DeKalb or in college (Greg at Oglethorpe and Ty at Presbyterian), it was a safe bet to find them in the stands.

That didn’t stop when the playing days ended, though. The brothers have risen through the high school ranks as assistants (Greg on three Norcross state title teams) to currently successful head coaches. Throughout those years, their parents have tagged along.

Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday during the season, they’re at one of their son’s games. They even travel to tournaments like this past December, when they joined Berkmar for a tourney in Panama City and returned in time to see Ty at the Jared Cook Classic.

“It keeps us young,” Tommy Phillips said of their hobby. “It’s been fun to meet the kids and meet the parents of their teams. You remember what it was like for us as parents. ... And it beats sitting at home and watching TV.”

While this week will be stressful on their parents, Greg said that he and Ty will treat this week like any other (outside of an easier than usual film exchange). They’ll talk during the week and won’t turn into ultra-competitive mode until they arrive at the gym on Saturday.

It will be intense from that point for the brothers, like it was in their driveway basketball battles growing up. Greg is four years younger and four inches shorter than his 6-foot-7 brother, but he’s not giving an inch this weekend in their first meeting as head coaches.

“We’re both competitive, so it will be serious,” Greg said. “While we don’t talk about it this week, I know he’s preparing to win this game as much as I am.”

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, visit www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.