The slogan “eat, sleep, train and repeat” defines twins Liam and Luke Barrett’s lives.
The Mountain View High School rising seniors — Liam a pre-professional baseball player and Luke a nationally renowned dancer — both maintain lifestyles the average high schooler couldn’t fathom leading.
“They both work so hard,” said Mountain View High rising senior Ella Coan, who is friends with the twins. “It’s pure determination.”
Liam verbally committed to University of California, Santa Barbara’s baseball program last year, and Luke was crowned Las Vegas Dance Awards’s best teen male dancer last summer.
Up until the start of middle school, the two participated in a multitude of sports — together for the most part. But eventually, they had to decide between pursuing soccer, baseball or dance at a more professional level. For the two of them, deciding to give up “each others’ sports felt right,” Liam said, and didn’t weaken their close bond.
“Luke and I don’t see each other as much as we used to, but it still feels like we’re connected in some sort of way,” Liam said. “I always know what he’s doing, and when we’re both home, we spend all of our time together.”
Sticking to their own sports just “felt right,” according to Luke. In the end, they both chose the sport they loved.
“It feels like I was given a purpose in life, to dance,” Luke said. “It felt like something different that I’d never done before.”
Liam first began to take baseball seriously in 2020, after quarantine started. He and the twins’ older brother, Gabriel, would take Liam to the batting cages at Rosita Park in Mountain View.
“[Gabriel and I] used to hit there everyday,” Liam said. “That’s honestly what changed my path and made me so passionate.”
For Luke, his love of dance was developed during quarantine. He initially found himself stuck with a formidable mental block, which he wasn’t able to get past until COVID-19 restrictions were eased. But this hiatus from formal training and rehearsing helped Luke realize how much he loved the sport.
“I fell back in love with dance, more than I did [before quarantine],” Luke said. “After you hate something, you end up just appreciating it more. … I realized I wanted to do [dance], and that I could make a living off of it.”
By sophomore year, the two had fully thrown themselves into their respective sports.
The hours of after school practice and grueling weekend competitions and games, along with the weekly stressors of an average high schooler, however, undoubtedly left their impact on the twins. Luke, who travels monthly around the country to assist instructors at various dance conventions, has even resorted to doing homework in the airport before flights back home.
“It’s a struggle a lot of the time,” Liam said. “It’s either [that] I’m too tired to do my homework, so I have to go to sleep or sacrifice staying up late [to do homework]. It’s kind of never-ending. Every day I’m stressed.”
Many athletes at the twins’ level resort to homeschooling, to allow for more training and to relieve some of the stress that comes with attending a conventional high school. Luke recently weighed the pros and cons of moving to Los Angeles — a city that lives and breathes dance — but decided against it, as he wants to finish high school with Liam.
Even if the twins are technically students at an average public high school, the two are missing out on much of the “quintessential” high school experience for their sports. Especially for Liam — the “social butterfly” of the two, he said — constantly missing out on the parties, events and activities his friends take part in can be frustrating.
“I’m a super emotional person, and I just love being around people,” Liam said. “I feel like, without my friends, I wouldn’t really be happy at all. … But at the same time, it sometimes distracts me from my goals.”
Even though the pair has had to figure out how to juggle practicing their sports while leaving time for friends and family, they’ve found a way to stay up-to-date with their friends: social media, and they’ve amassed an Instagram following of more than 25,000 and combined TikTok following of nearly 240,000.
But being “micro-influencers” — regularly releasing content on social media platforms — also means that an even wider audience ends up making assumptions about the twins, simply based on their large followings.
“Their reputation precedes them,” Coan said. “People really need to understand that they are people too. … Once you start seeing them like that, you’ll realize that they’re very deep individuals and have so much to offer.”
People have even gone so far as to send the twins’ videos or posts to Coan, saying that they’re “cringey” or embarrassing, according to Coan. Liam was once verbally harassed during a baseball game, and was called “thirst trap” by the opposing team’s players, in reference to his TikTok videos.
But despite the difficulties that come with having social media accounts, the twins don’t refrain from doing what they love just because of other people, Coan said.
“They’re both forces,” Coan said. “[With] this whole public persona, [they] just take it as a joke, but in private, they communicate to their friends about it.”
All the sacrifices — the late nights studying, the missed social events, the strict regimens and so much more — are worth it, though, Liam and Luke said. The twins, or “work machines,” as Coan calls them, both agree that there’s nothing they’d rather be doing than the sports they love, at whatever cost.
“[Liam and I] are committed to what we do, no matter whatever else we’re doing,” Luke said. “We put our focus, our time and our bodies into what we love. We are driven to work harder than anyone else, I guess. We’re driven to be competitive.”