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Burridge brothers take over Fredericton campuses

Their parents have two screens going at all times — one to watch their oldest wearing the green and gold, and another to see their youngest representing the red and black.

“I consider Tristen one of my good friends, not just my brother, so it’s pretty cool, him being there,” said STU men’s volleyball setter Jonah Burridge.

Jonah and Tristen Burridge took over the Fredericton campuses, each to play the sport they love — Jonah at STU and Tristen at UNB.

Even though the Fort St. John, B.C. natives came to Fredericton for different reasons, both Burridge brothers came to New Brunswick to play the sport they love.

Having a large portion of their family from the province, it made the transition that much easier.

“I think everyone except for three people in my extended family went to UNB,” said Tristen.

Jonah, 21, is in his first year of eligibility in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA), and didn’t know if he would even be playing competitive volleyball after graduation.

His first steps into the game started around the same time he took his first steps in life — it all started when he was two years old.

A volleyball coach for the junior high school team, his dad, helped pave the way.

“I was always in the gym playing.”

Taking time off to work, and playing with a men’s league in Fort St. John to keep up with the game, he then decided to send out letters to a number of schools in hopes of playing again.

“I never really thought that I’d be able to still go end up playing volleyball some place, usually they just recruit right out of high school,” he said. “And then I had written STU because Tristen seemed to be having a great time out here.”

It was STU with the “friendly recruiting process” that helped make Jonah’s decision to move across the country to once again play.

And Jonah couldn’t have picked a better year, or a better team, to enter. In his first year, the rookie was part of the team to take the ACAA banner with their 3-0 victory over the Holland College Hurricanes — the fifth victory in the school’s history.

“We set a bunch of records with this team, too,” he said. “We’re the best team the ACAA’s ever had in men’s volleyball, and it’s a great group of guys, too.”

With their victory he made it to nationals in Moose Jaw, Sask., where Jonah said he realized they are a team that can compete with any other in the country.

“It’s pretty much the same group of guys returning next year, so next year we’re pushing for an actual national title.”

The game for Tristen, however, started a little differently — and a little later.

The second year V-Red has been playing volleyball since he was 10 years old. Playing with the Bulldogs at Burntmost Junior Secondary, he was able to play with Jonah for a year — the only time they were teammates.

“I just played all of the school sports in elementary school, and I could play on a team with my brother when I was that young,” said Tristen. “So it was fun.”

After junior high he became a Seal at North Peace Secondary.

During his time there he also played with a club team in Fort St. John and Prince George Youth Volleyball Club.

Despite playing multiple sports throughout elementary and into junior high, he felt he had the best opportunities with volleyball.

“I went farther, sooner.”

Tristen, 19, came to UNB after talking with head coach Dan McMorran. He visited a few others schools, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Grand Prairie College and Kamloops, but felt he had a better opportunity with UNB.

“It’s just an option, and then Dan did a good job recruiting, so I came here,” said the offensive hitter. “This one just stood out.”

Jonah said much of his skill level is attributed to his brother consistently playing in a higher age level.

Starting in Grades 3 and 4, he was playing with Grade 6 and 7 students.

“There weren’t really many athletes of [Tristen’s] age at our school, so he played up with us — he kinda always played up with the older team,” said Jonah. “Being two years younger, but playing at the level of two years older, you’re going to end up getting better.”

Although it’s difficult for the two to watch each other’s games — UNB playing away most games — the brothers try to catch one when they can.

“It’s pretty sweet, because before, if we wanted to talk we’d have to phone [or] text or something. Now I can just go over to his house or he could come over to my house and we could just chat,” said Tristen.

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