They're a triple play at Fallston High

Erickson triplets help teams, but exploits go much further

November 22, 2006|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,SUN REPORTER

From the start, the Erickson triplets were on the go. Delivered five weeks early, they challenged doctors who fought to keep the newborns alive.

By 18 months, the three were escaping from their cribs. Their parents found the toddlers on the floor, tearing the wallpaper from the nursery.

Anna, Paul and Andrew Erickson aren't the types to sit idly by.

At Fallston High, where they are seniors, the triplets are still in motion. Anna is co-captain of the field hockey team, co-editor of the school newspaper and a track champion. Paul is president of the National Honor Society and co-captain of the cross country team who is headed to the U.S. Military Academy.

Andrew? He plays football, trumpet in Fallston's marching band and whimsical pranks on his siblings.

Paul and Anna were recently crowned king and queen of the school's homecoming, having won by a landslide. For 10 seconds they danced together until Andrew shouted, "Get off my sister!" and the crowd burst out laughing.

If the triplets are the face of Fallston - Olympian Kimmie Meissner notwithstanding - they don't act it, say those who know them.

"As much success as those three have had, they've never advertised it, never let it go to their heads," said Jimmy Grant, Fallston's track coach. "In this `Look-at-me-I'm-on-SportsCenter' society, they are well-grounded, a model for how high school athletes should act.

"If there were more kids like the Ericksons, coaches would have more hair."

Privileged, they are not. The triplets, 17, don't carry cell phones and all drive the same car, a '97 Buick clunker their friends call "the boat on the road."

Sharing aside, they said they'd still want to have been born a trio.

"The best thing about it is that you have a best friend your own age in the house all the time," Anna said. "How convenient is that?"

Enduring Anna

Athletically, Anna may be best. A three-year starter in field hockey, she led her team to 38 victories in 51 games, one state championship game appearance and one final four.

"Anna has amazing endurance - no exceptional speed but she never gets tired," Fallston field hockey coach Alice Puckett said.

"During freshman tryouts, I made them run for distance. Anna was so far ahead that she got embarrassed and looped back to be with the others."

As a sophomore, Anna anchored a state champion indoor relay team and took second in the 800.

"If she had run cross country, I'm convinced Anna could have won the state," said Puckett - who is glad that field hockey won out.

That the triplets play sports at all is a wonder, given their genesis. Delivered by Caesarean section before they reached full term, they spent 17 days in the hospital. Paul and Andrew were critical for a while; Paul was placed on a respirator. Doctors labored over Anna, whose right leg had turned white from lack of circulation. Amputation was an option.

"They were born on June 6, [the anniversary of] D-Day, and doctors said, `We may have some casualties tonight,'" recalled Michael Erickson, their father. He donated blood in case transfusions were needed. Finally, at 3 a.m., he sought comfort in the hospital's chapel.

"I was so tired of asking [God] to save babies A, B and C," Erickson said. "I said, `God, if you're going to take them, they are going to have names.'"

Deeply religious, Erickson and his wife, Ruth, taught their children to read the Bible daily. Come bedtime, the youngsters would curl up with their father and play their home version of Jeopardy!

"Dad would ask each of us questions about math, geography or the Bible," Anna said. "We learned a lot from that. Finally, he'd ask a crazy question that would end up with all of us wrestling, and Mom would come into the room and say, `Mike, put them to bed - you're getting them all riled up!'"

The Erickson triplets have three older brothers, two of whom - Peter, 26, and John, 24 - served in the military in Iraq. Mark, 22, is considering joining up.

Committed Paul

All were Eagle Scouts, an honor Paul hopes to achieve by graduation. Paul is so committed to obtaining that rank that he sacrificed indoor track this winter in an effort to complete his scouting requirements. This, despite a heady 10th-place finish in the recent state Class 3A cross country championships.

"Paul is solid, soft-spoken, top-of-the-heap," said Craig McLeod, Fallston's cross country coach. "He's a focused, disciplined kid who leads by example. West Point is right up his alley."

Though Paul's buddies tease him about his straight-arrow persona, they respect his standards, said Chris Wagner, a trackman also bound for West Point.

"I like the family's work ethic," Wagner said of the Ericksons. "They don't work hard because they choose to, they work hard because that's who they are."

Fun-loving Andrew

Andrew is "the baby" of the troop, having been delivered 3 minutes after Anna, the eldest. If anyone could have thought up The Great Wallpaper Caper, it would have been Andrew.

"He has a little spunk in him," Ruth Erickson said of her son.

It was Andrew who, after a home track meet, volunteered to roll down a hill on campus in a construction barrel. It was Andrew who, time and again during pre-game meals at Cactus Willie's, told the wait staff it was volleyball coach Frank Gostomski's birthday so they'd serenade him with a candlelit cupcake.

And it was Andrew who, after a recent football game at Elkton, sat on the team bus alongside a coach and conversed all the way home about history.

"He spoke with a great deal of knowledge and detail about all of the books Stephen Ambrose has written," said Grant, who teaches American government.

Impressive, thought Grant.

"It wasn't your typical conversation with a high school kid on Friday night after a football game," he said.

There's not much that's typical about the triplets, said a classmate, Meghan Wehrle:

"I've never heard them complete each other's sentences, but they're all on the same page."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.