'You're perfect," a reporter told Tyler Albright and Harry Koulos, Long Beach Wilson baseball players who have committed to Harvard and Yale, respectively, and have never received grades other than A on their report cards.
"We wish that's what the girls say," quipped Koulos.
For those who still wonder what it takes to succeed in the classroom and on the athletic field, meet Albright and Koulos.
Since they began playing youth baseball together as 8- and 9-year-olds, they've matched each other A for A. Whatever the class and no matter the subject, their final grade has always been the same.
"I've never gotten a B," each one says about his report card.
Their identical 4.6 grade-point averages have them on a collision course to be valedictorian at Wilson. Fortunately, Wilson can have multiple valedictorians, so each figures to wear a golden robe on graduation day.
Albright, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound starting catcher, wants to major in mechanical engineering at Harvard.
"I'm a math guy," he said.
Koulos, a 5-11, 160-pound outfielder, intends to major in world history at Yale while also dabbling in drama, dance, law and politics. He loves Greek dancing and has starred in and directed school plays.
To understand how truly exceptional these two seniors are, let me give you a peek at the essays they wrote to the Yale and Harvard admission offices.
"There is a scene that plays out at my house every night. I call it, 'Chaos in the kitchen.' Lots of loud voices. Lots of food. Lots of people. Five kids competing for attention. My grandma stands over a hot stove with my mother cooking Greek food, while my blind grandpa and I sit on the couch testing our knowledge as we listen to 'Jeopardy.' "My grandmother comes in the family room, screaming at my grandfather and me in Greek that dinner is ready. We all sit down at the table to eat and the five kids want to show our parents what we learned at Greek dance practice the night before. "The linoleum kitchen floor is the Roman Forum for our warm home. It is the center of our lives and it keeps us going, building the bond between us all and perpetuating our cultural and family values. It is a place for toe shoes and pirouettes, balancing shot glasses and slapping shoes, smacking a hockey puck and practicing the perfect baseball swing. This is just a Tuesday night. It's chaotic, and it's wonderful." From Albright:
"The first night, the coaches scheduled batting practice under the lights. When my turn came around to take some swings, I strutted up to the plate and watched the first ball thrown at me soar right past my swinging bat and into the catcher's mitt. "Right then, my body woke up; every meaningful thing raced through me — my life, my future, my goals, my destiny — this was the moment I lived for, and I was not about to quit because I was a little tired. "I stepped back into the box and the coach fired the next pitch. My hands, my mind and my body released all of its power and shot that white ball 350 feet where it struck the left center field fence. I could do this." They know how difficult it is to land a spot at Harvard or Yale, and their excitement was genuine when they saw e-mails telling them the news.
"I got rejected from Princeton on the day I got accepted to Yale and was down in the dumps," Koulos said. "I decided, why not check on Yale. There was a bulldog chanting the Yale anthem. I was freaking out and couldn't believe it."
Said Albright: "My parents were waiting for me. I turned on the computer and checked. I think I screamed and my mom screamed louder."
What's good about these two best friends is they don't take themselves too seriously.
"Their egos are such that they don't let their intellectual ability get in the way of helping other kids," Coach Andy Hall said. "They're just regular kids."
For another two months, they'll be trying to help Wilson win the Southern Section Division I baseball championship. But once the fall comes, they'll be heading to the East Coast to play baseball, receive an Ivy League education and learn what happens when Harvard plays Yale in any sport.
"Soon we'll be rivals," Albright said. "But we'll see each other."
And the first one who gets a B in college will hear about it.
Eric Sondheimer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org