‘M. Shipley’ is the best athlete in the family
By Paul Livengood
Those who attend a Liberty Hill boys soccer game might see three M. Shipleys on the roster.
No, there is not a typo. There really are three M. Shipleys — brothers Michael, Mason and Matthew.
Michael is a junior. Mason and Matthew are twins and are both freshmen who split time between JV and varsity. The twins spent the early preseason on JV, but were moved up to varsity to compete in the Temple tournament with their older brother.
Playing together on an organized team is uncharted territory for the siblings, but a lifetime’s worth of back yard play has the Shipleys’ chemistry at a high level.
“This is the first year I have actually played together with them,” Michael said. “On the field, we know what each other is going to do. We have a connection out there.”
As twins, Matthew and Mason have played on the same team their entire lives. Matthew said playing with Michael, as well, for the first time was a tad peculiar, simply because it was new. Not only is playing on the same squad an adjustment for the Shipley brothers, but playing for Liberty Hill has been an adjustment in itself.
Michael, Mason and Matthew were born and raised in McKinney, a suburb of Dallas. Michael attended McKinney High School and the twins were set to join him. In June, their father’s work was moved to the Austin area, and the boys moved to Liberty Hill. The contrast between the two communities is one that Michael says they are still getting accustomed to.
“Liberty Hill is more country than we are used to,” Michael said. “McKinney is all city. The houses are right next to each other, there are giant neighborhoods, and there is a Walmart right next to our neighborhood. Now, it’s like 15 minutes away. So, it is a little different and kind of hard to get used to this, but I think we have gotten it down by now.”
Leaving their respective sports programs proved to be a challenge, as well.
“It was kind of hard at first,” Michael said. “You never want to move schools when you are a junior. Up there, I was on varsity football, too. I didn’t know what to expect down here.”
Fitting in wasn’t an issue for the Shipleys. Michael said Liberty Hill’s lack of cliques and “mixed” friend groups made it easier for him and his brothers to make friends.
All three of them made their marks by playing football for the Panthers in the fall. Michael played kicker for varsity, Matthew was a cornerback on JV and Mason played kicker like his older brother, but for the freshman team.
With soccer season in full bloom, Michael, Mason and Matthew are now out to prove to the world which Shipley is the best on the pitch.
“That would be me,” Michael said.
The twins disagree, shaking their heads in disbelief. Michael says he’s the best for a multitude of reasons.
“One, I’m older,” Michael said. “Two, I always juke them out. Every single time. It’s easy to get around them. If I ever see them in front of me, I know it’s an easy win.”
Matthew and Mason decline all rumors of ever being juked by their older brother. However, Michael says he hears excuses such as, “I’m not wearing my cleats”, or “the ground is slippery”. Whether anyone has been juked or not remains up to speculation and depends on who you ask, but the competitive nature amongst the Shipleys transcends on and off the pitch.
Not one of the Shipleys have recorded a point, probably due the fact that Michael and Matthew both play defense, a position not prime to light up the stat book. Mason, however, does play attacking center midfielder, but as a freshman doesn’t see as much playing time as most of the upperclassmen.
On the weekends, Mason, Matthew and Michael partake in the FIFA and Madden video games, and often host ping-pong tournaments at their house. Of course, they all claim to be the best at all three, but the twins did concede that Michael won the last ping-pong tournament.
It doesn’t matter if they are twiddling their thumbs to play soccer on a TV screen, or using their feet in real life—for the next two years, they’ll be doing it all together.