According to an article in The New York Times “Parenting” special section, “psychologically, sibling rivalry serves a developmental purpose: It helps children figure out what is unique and special about themselves.”
It looks like the Buchannan brothers – Jamie and Justice – at Bedford High School have figured it out.
Jamie, a three-season football starter, was named 2023 Dual County League Lineman-of-the-Year. He will join fellow Buccaneer captain Eric Miles playing NCAA Division 1 football for the Stonehill University Skyhawks in a few months.
Justice was a basketball co-captain as a junior in 2022-23 when for the first time, Bedford was undefeated against DCL teams. He was voted DCL Player-of-the-Year. So far, he has received a few invitations to “showcases and stuff like that,” but he said he is staying focused on his high-school career.
“Growing up, we always competed in everything we do. There was no playing around – we didn’t care how old or how tall,” Jamie reported with a smile. “There was always head-to-head going on,” Justice agreed. “At the end of the day, we’re still siblings. We’re still looking to win.”
“The only time they could get along was when they were playing on the same team,” sighed their mother, Kerry Fitzgerald. That actually happened for the past two varsity basketball seasons.
“It has been a pleasure to coach both brothers,” said basketball Head Coach Anthony Halls. “They are both really nice young men who have grown tremendously over the past few years. Playing with a sibling isn’t easy but these two have supported each other.”
“On Senior Night, I named Jamie as captain so that he could go to half court so they could share a moment together. That’s how much I respect the both of them – it was a great moment,” he added.
Football Head Coach Tom Tone said, “Jamie is the strongest player I have ever coached. The fierce, competitive look in Jamie’s eyes just prior to game time is something I won’t ever forget.”
The Buchannans arrived in Bedford for fifth and sixth grades. Jamie signed up for the Lexington-Bedford-Hanscom Pop Warner team. They turned him down – he was too big for his age group. So, he started playing football for John Glenn Middle School as a sixth grader.
“I played a lot of different sports, but basketball always stuck with me,” Justice said. He first played organized basketball with the Amateur Athletic Union’s Middlesex Magic in seventh grade. He mentioned that as a ninth grader, he ended up on the freshman team instead of junior varsity. “I think they were underrating my skills – that really motivated me.”
At one point Jamie tried to persuade his brother to play football, but “the risk-reward ratio was not good enough,” the younger Buchannan explained. He is focused on his AAU games in the spring; “that’s when I try to work on my game and try to get better.”
As successful student-athletes, they have a lot in common.
“You are a student-athlete – a student first,” Jamie asserted. “It’s all about priorities. If you know what you need to do, get organized. It’s not that hard to maintain an A or B average if you just try.” Justice agreed that it’s about priorities: “Just make sure you know what you’re doing.”
He added, “The best advice I’ve heard is to do what you love and love what you do. Make sure that if you want to achieve something, put your mind to it and nobody can tell you otherwise.” Jamie echoed that view. “The main thing is determination. Put your time and effort into it. You want to get better and reach your full potential.”
They both appreciate the support of the crowd – and are motivated in a hostile arena.
“If you know you have those fans rooting you on, the confidence builds up,” Justice said. “As the game goes on, and the momentum shifts, you need that, especially late in the game.” Jamie noted pregame Instagram pitches to “Pack the Ship,” and explained, “We thrive off the energy. We have fans and we know we are also playing for them.”
But he also remembers with pleasure the negativity directed at the team last September during what turned out to be a huge win at Woburn. “People were yelling, saying this and saying that. We shut their fans up.” And on the basketball court, the intensity is much closer, he added. “Shushing the opposing crowd gives you confidence,” Justice agreed.
They both find the local sports culture rich and inspiring. “Our class built it up a lot,” Jamie said. “In order for us to take it to the next level, we wanted people to be there. It was a great environment for the team.”
Tone described Jamie’s toughness: “His junior year, Jamie dislocated his elbow in the first full contact drill of the season. After getting checked at the doctor’s he showed up to the evening practice with his arm in a sling, a huge inspiration to our team. He missed only a few games and quickly regained his dominant play.”
They also share summer work – moving furniture around school classrooms as part of the Facilities Department seasonal crew.
“My mother keeps me grounded,” Jamie said. “Whenever I’m too nervous about something, she says, ‘You don’t want any regrets in life.’” Justice added that he has “great advisors” not only at BHS but also with Middlesex Magic. They’re “people who provide the advice I need to guide me through this journey.”