Oakes brothers compete for minds


Twin brothers Brett and Brian Oakes have been competing all their lives. Whether it was in sports, their own academic careers or the academic teams they now lead, they can’t help but admit they’ve made each other a better person.

“We’ve competed at everything we’ve ever done,” laughed Brett. “Ever since we were kids, whether it was basketball or grades, there has been a very healthy level of competition between us.”

The brothers were born in Portsmouth and went attended Green High School in Franklin Furnace. They both attended Ohio University in Athens and became teachers. Brett instructs science at Minford High School while Brian teaches mathematics at Wheelersburg.

“I just felt like teaching was what I was meant to do,” said Brian. “I found out a bit earlier than Brett, but eventually he chose to teach as well and I think now he feels the same way as I do.”

Both men now coach the academic teams at the schools in which they teach. Both Minford (Division 1) and Wheelersburg (Division 2) won their respective tournaments at the Southern Ohio Academic Tournament hosted at Shawnee State University on March 10. Both teams will advance to the regional tournament, an honor Wheelersburg has held for four years and Minford for seven years running.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the students I have” said Brett. “Year in and year out they are great. I’ve been coaching the academic team for seven years now and the success is attributed to my students. They’ve been really great to work with.

“The kids get really into it. Athletes take their sports seriously, and these kids take these competitions seriously. It is a lot of fun, but the biggest advantage is that they learn a lot. That is the most satisfying thing, to watch these kids’ minds grow from their freshman to senior years and see all the knowledge they’ve gained.”

The fact that Brian and Brett teach and compete at rival schools is not lost on them. Minford and Wheelersburg have held a rivalry for years while competing within the SOC.

“Sometimes it is a bit strange that we teach and compete at rival schools,” admitted Brian. “When we play against each other the kids make more out of it than my brother and I. The kids go in with more of edge when we play Minford because they want me to do well. Honestly, I would rather play someone else besides Brett because of how tough their team has become.

“It’s something that comes natural to us,” said Brett. “But, I can say we are glad to see each other’s teams do well.”

“They did win the season series against us this year, though, “ laughed Brian.

Out of more than 1,400 high schools in the State of Ohio, only 96 get invited to the regional tournament. Minford and Wheelersburg both qualified, as did Northwest High school by applying for an at large bid. Both brothers insist that they want to put Southern Ohio on the map for academic competition.

“I think quiz bowl is on the upswing here for sure,” said Brett. “Our goal is to put us on the map. Brian and I want these kids to compete and do well and pave the way for other schools in our area.”

The Ohio Academic Competition Regional Tournament will be held Saturday, April 16th at the Ohio University regional campus in Lancaster, Ohio. Cheer on Brett and the Falcons as well as Brian and the Pirates as they represent Southern Ohio’s finest students.

Derrick Parker

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