Playing sports with siblings offer unique experiences

Sam Tapper Sports Writer

Through sports, being a part of a team establishes a sense of brother or sisterhood with your teammates over time. Yet, for a few student-athletes at Southern, that sense goes beyond the team and dates to infancy.

It is not uncommon to see sibling teammates at Southern, as there were multiple pairings in the 2018-2019 year, such as: Brianna and Ellie Craft of the field hockey team, Tyler and Bryce Castellone of the swim and dive team and Tiffany and Melanie Coleman of the gymnastics team.

In the case of the Coleman sisters, their gymnastics careers go back to when they were around 4 and 2-years old. Though Melanie, currently a junior, is two years younger, she said she always wanted to be on the same level has her sister.

“We originally started at this gym, and we both kind of got to the same level, which was kind of funny,” said Coleman. “We were always at the same spot even though she was older than me, because I always wanted to play catch-up with her and go and be as good as she is or be better than her. There’s always that friendly competition.”

This year, Coleman was honored as a Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association Scholastic All-American. Though her older sister has since graduated, the help, support and advice she gets from her contribute to her ongoing success.

“We live together still, I live at home,” said Coleman, who is from Milford, Conn. “She’ll ask me, ‘how was practice?’ and still talk me through things and help me.”

Coleman said there was a lot of chatter when she committed to Southern among people around her, worried that going to school with her sibling was not the best idea. They would even get texts from their mother telling them both to “be nice” to each other at school. Despite what people were saying, she says the decision she made was the right one.

“Some people at first thought it was a bad idea to be on the same team,” Coleman said. “At first I was like, ‘this might be weird,’ because I’m close with her, but we don’t talk about everything, but it was definitely a good transition to go from high school to here because it was something that’s similar.”

Though the days of playing together are over for the Coleman sisters, the Craft sisters are still in the midst of their final season playing together. For Brianna, she describes her and her sister as “best friends.”

“We’ve done everything together,” Brianna said. “We went to school together, we played field hockey together, we played softball together, we go home together, we eat, we sleep – we sleep in the same room, so, we’re together all the time. Since [Ellie] was born, we’ve always been together.”

They even took a trip to Bermuda together, as the field hockey team took a trip to the island in the preseason to improve team chemistry. Going as teammates and sisters, the memories they say will last a lifetime.

“Since we both went, our mom went with us and our grandma went,” Brianna said of the trip. “It was a really cool trip to experience, not just with the team, but with our family, sort of. Doing that stuff, you can say, when you’re older that, you can say you went to Bermuda with your sister and your team. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.”

As Brianna prepares to graduate in May having left her mark on this program — she holds the all-time NCAA Division II field hockey saves record — her sister will look back on their memories and smile, advising other sibling pairs to go the same route, if they are able to.

“I would say don’t take it for granted,” said Ellie Craft. “I think a lot of the stories that we may tell our kids one day will involve both of us, all of our experiences that happened together, and she’ll have her part of it, I’ll have my part of it, but we’ll both share the same experiences.”


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