Makenna Schroeder heard, “Put ‘em in a headlock,” and wasted little time wrangling up her brothers by their necks.

Judging by the wide, devious smile on her face, she might’ve been having a little too much fun doing so.

That’s been the story for Makenna and her triplet brothers Hayden and Evan for virtually their entire lives. They squabble, fight, compete and make bets, but when the three Brenham High School graduates say goodbye for their first college semesters this fall, there’s going to be a little bit of yearning for the good ‘ol times, too.

“At first I think it will be great to get away,” said Makenna, who will attend Sam Houston State University this fall and join the Bearkats’ track team as a hurdler. “I think eventually I’m going to realize that they’re like my bodyguards … they’re my best friends; and yeah, I can pick on them whenever I want, but I won’t have them. That’s going to suck eventually.”

Makenna, who was a four-year track and field athlete and volleyball player for the Brenham Cubettes, is making the jump to Huntsville while Hayden (Concordia University in Austin) and Evan (Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas) will continue their baseball careers farther away from their lifelong home.

“It’s going to be weird,” Evan added. “Everyone’s always together. And then we won’t be. But I think it’ll be good for us.”

The triplet’s parents, Scott and Tricia Schroeder, are preparing for a bittersweet moment millions of parents endure every year. Only in their case, it’ll be three times as hard.

And when the summer ends, the parents’ first-ever college drop-offs might hit home a little harder than others, especially when considering what doctors told the prospective parents some 20 years ago.

The two were struggling to conceive their first child and were eventually dealt the worst possible news.

“We tried (In Vitro Fertilization), but it wasn’t taking,” Tricia said, adding that doctors essentially predicted parenthood was not in her and Scott’s future.

As fate would have it, Scott and Tricia never gave birth to a single son or daughter; instead on Aug. 4, 2000, they got three of them.

“They were our three miracles babies,” Tricia added. “We feel absolutely blessed that they’re here.”

The parents are also quick to admit — with a wink and a smile — how much of a blessing it’ll be when they’re out of the house.

“It’s going to be quiet in here,” Tricia said with a laugh. “[Scott and I] don’t argue nearly as much as they do. So it’ll quiet down in here.”

The triplets’ mother is likely referring to her children’s constant competitive nature, which ranges from fights over the remnants of dinner, to the dreaded middle seat on family car rides (a spot unofficially designated for Makenna) to cash bets centered around sports benchmarks.

“She bet me that I couldn’t throw [a] 90 mile-per-hour pitch,” Evan said. “And I didn’t … I hit 87 — (Brenham pitching coach Trey) Marik says I got to 89 — but it wasn’t 90.”

“So he had to give me money, and I was like, ‘All right, pay up,’” Makenna added with that previously mention sly smirk.

But the competition isn’t always monetary.

While their fellow classmates have always known them as the Schroeder triplets, there’s been constant teasing about which of the Schroeder children stands out the most on the court and on the field.

“There’s definitely a big sense of pride for us when it comes to our sports, but we always have to hear about it from everyone else: ‘Makenna’s the most athletic triplet,’” Hayden said. “She’s the stud of the family … Division I athlete.”

Not to be outdone, however, Makenna naturally chimed in once again: “Hayden always calls me the stud of the family, but we’re all studs; they just don’t realize it.”

That brief moment of sibling support is actually more prevalent than perhaps Makenna, Evan and Hayden reveal on the surface. When asked how important it was to see each other gain the opportunity to compete in collegiate athletics, Evan wasted no time with his answer.

“We always want to see each other succeed,” he said. “Regardless of what sport we’re playing; whether it’s Makenna in volleyball in track or volleyball or us in baseball, we’re always fighting to see who’s better, but at the same time, we want to see each other win and reach our goals. That’s important to all of us.”

Makenna added once more: “They’re always practicing together, they’re always going to the batting cages. I see how much they work on their game and want to get better. It’s important to them.”

Now, what becomes important to each of the triplets is their first college semester. When classes begin in the fall, Makenna will begin a path toward a degree in kinesiology while Evan and Hayden will pursue business and management. And if they have it their way, they’ll probably find a way to make a competition out of that, too.

“We might end up on the opposite sides of a business deal,” Evan said.

“And then I’ll probably have to come back home and get everybody back into shape,” Makenna quipped under her breath. “That’s how it works around here.”

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