The thrill of beating a sibling in a competition, or losing by a margin, can ignite an athlete’s desire for self-improvement. Accompanying these thrills are the shared pride in collaborative success and the mutual disappointment in losses.
For many athletes, family dynamics have shaped the way they feel about their sports. Girls ice hockey players, Lucy Herring ’15 and Maggie Herring ’17, first showed interest in the sport because their dad and sister had played it before they had. Similarly, boys ice hockey players, Connor McCormick ’15 and Brendon McCormick ’17 were introduced to the sport by their older brother Patrick McCormick ’14, who played hockey since childhood.
“My father has always been a hockey fan but he never had the opportunity to play ice hockey,” Connor McCormick said.
Siblings’ playing sports as members of the same teams paves the way for them to utilize their relationships as a means of improvement.
“I think it adds to the relationship in a new way because sports have a way of creating connection between people that’s different from a sister-sister relationship. It adds a new level of competitiveness and also helps you work together,” Lucy Herring said.
In many cases, playing together encourages friendly competition and incentive for improvement. For example, for boys basketball twins, Tad Moore ’15 and Tommy Moore ’15, playing on the same team meant that they continuously aimed to surpass each other in skills and techniques. Siblings are also more comfortable with openly critiquing each other than are other members of the team, thus motivating them to improve.
“Basically, my mindset [is] that if he does [something], I would have to do it. It was because I can’t have him doing something that I’m not doing and have him be better than me at something,” Tommy Moore said.
The competition between siblings serves as a positive catalyst for collaboration as well as self-improvement. On any sports court, each sibling has his or her own set of skills to show. Playing with a sibling for a long period of time may help familiarize athletes with each other’s playing style and teach them to be more flexible come game time.
“Maggie has a better shot but I have more experience with skating,” Lucy Herring said. “I usually just skate up and pass it to her. [It] works pretty well.”
In game situations, coaches sometimes rely specifically on the teamwork between siblings to generate game plans. For example, boys basketball Head Coach Mark Shelley counted on Tad and Tommy Moore’s coordination to enhance play.
“They seem to have an uncanny knack for finding each other with passes. They’ve often alternated for each other … It’s been a positive situation,” Shelley said.
This type of teamwork has also been demonstrated by the Herring sisters. Christian Herzog, head coach of the girls ice hockey team, said that as a result of the participation of sibling players, the team has progressed with stronger plays. “They back each other up … They [are] willing to play harder. If one of the girls takes a cheap hit from the other girl, [one of them] would come in to back up her sister and help her out,” Herzog said.
In addition to helping coaches with directions, sibling chemistry can aid players by providing on-court coordination. Natural sibling intimacy and outside practice can amplify the cohesion between passes and shots, therefore helping the team speed up on-court dynamics.
Chris Munoz ’15, a forward on the boys ice hockey team, said that the bond between Brendon and Connor McCormick contributed to game play as their familiarity with each other enhanced team communication.
“They know where they are going to be on the ice,” Munoz said. “They make quick decisions with the puck [and] they are easy to understand.”
After playing with each other since childhood, athletes have grown to learn from their siblings and to cherish the intimacy and connection they share. “‘Dynamic Duo,’ ‘Dynamite,’ ‘Twin Telepathy,’ I’ve heard it all,” Tommy Moore said.