It’s not uncommon for brothers and sisters to come through the same high school athletic programs at the same time.
Having nine sets of siblings in one year in the same sport, that’s rare.
That’s the case for Elizabethtown girls’ soccer this season. Across the varsity and junior varsity teams, the Lady Panthers have nine sets of sisters in the program.
Of these nine, only the sister duo of juniors Emma and Kira Grimm are both on varsity. The other eight are spread out over the varsity and JV rosters. The rest of the team’s soccer sisterhood is senior Anna Grace Carter and eighth-grader Kennedy Carter; senior Ella Durbin and seventh-grader Molly Durbin; junior Mary Bell and seventh-grader Rachel Bell; freshman Langley Wallace and eighth-grader Campbell Wallace; sophomore Adelyn Aldridge and eighth-grader Annelise Aldridge; junior Rori Campbell and seventh-grader Paige Wise; sophomore Charlotte Piwetz and eighth-grader Hadassa Piwetz; and freshman Brylee Davis and seventh-grader Lexi Davis.
“I think that it’s nice for our parents because us older sisters can take our younger sisters to the bus or to practice,” Anna Grace Carter said. “For the older ones, we’re all together and then the younger ones will stay and watch our game or we’ll go to their games and watch them, so it’s kind of cool, all of us being together.”
Elizabethtown girls’ soccer coach Pat Black has been around the sport a long time. He coached the Carter sisters’ father, Chris, on the 1992 Elizabethtown boys’ soccer state runner-up team.
He’s had a few sibling combinations over the years, but nine in one season is uncharted territory.
“It’s been a pretty neat little thing to have,” Black said. “One thing it does, it just breeds commitment to our team and it breeds a little bit of continuity throughout the JV all the way to varsity, because we like to be one group. We don’t like to just varsity stuff, just JV stuff. We really like to do the whole family, so it’s easy to do when the whole family’s really a family.”
The varsity-level sisters shared this sentiment of liking to stay involved with what the JV team does. For varsity players, watching their younger sister play is something of a trip down memory lane.
The varsity team naturally is going to get most of the spotlight regardless of the sport. While Elizabethtown varsity players are good about supporting their JV counterparts, having a sister on the JV team adds a more vested interest.
“I think one of my favorite things about that is getting to watch my younger sister play the same old level you used to play,” Charlotte Piwetz said. “I just think that’s really cool.”
Having a family member on the team also allows for the older sister to help show their younger sibling how it’s done.
“I always like to set a good example for my sister,” Mary Bell said. “I know if I play my hardest, it’ll motivate her to play hard too.”
According to Ella Durbin, having nine sets on a team and at a school of Elizabethtown’s size adds to the uniqueness of this year’s roster.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Durbin said. “We have such a small school, that I think it’s pretty cool that almost every person on the team has a sister that’s younger than them or older than them and they can just learn and watch from their sister.”
Rori Campbell said the large number of siblings just makes the two teams feel very similar, despite the differences between varsity and JV.
“I feel like they’re like miniature us,” Campbell said. “We’re gonna graduate soon, so then it’s just like we pass on what we did to them.”
Passing on knowledge is a big part of what the older sisters do for their JV family members. Since many of the varsity players have been in their younger sisters’ shoes, they take the opportunity to mentor them and provide advice. Sometimes, the advice even goes the other way.
“I like watching my sister’s games and talking with her about it and telling her what she did right or wrong,” Langley Wallace said. “As an older sister, I already do that, but it’s just cool to be there and play after her and then hear what I did right and wrong from her.”
Sharing advice back and forth is even more common for sisters who play the same position such as the Aldridge sisters, who are both defensive players.
“We can come out to the field and we can work on stuff together,” Adelyn Aldridge said. “We can talk after the game and just watch film together and see what we did wrong and what we can improve on.”
Annelise Aldridge shared the sentiment.
“Sometimes she’ll tell me where I need to be and what I did wrong,” she said.
Outside of game tips, Kennedy Carter said her older sister keeps her motivated.
“My sister pushes me to give my best effort on the field and when we’re down to always not give up and keep on going,” she said.
While they may not have the same varsity-JV relationship, Emma and Kira Grimm are there for each other. As varsity teammates, helping each other get better helps improve the Lady Panthers overall.
“I’m a keeper so I’m back on the field and I can see what she’s doing wrong. If something happens I can tell her how to fix it and she can also help me,” Emma Grimm said. “We’ll go to the field and she can shoot on me since she plays up top.”
The Grimm sisters didn’t just start helping each other when they reached high school. When it comes to soccer, the two have been there for each other for years.
“We’ve been playing together since we were 6, so we’ve always come home and talked about the games,” Kira Grimm said. “Since we’re on the same team, instead of coming home from two different teams and talking about two different games, we come home and talk about the same game.”
Having a sister to practice with proved to be even more important earlier this offseason when COVID-19 shut down high school sports. The teams may not have been able to practice together, but these 18 players had a teammate at home for practice until the Lady Panthers were allowed to be together again.
“We would go in our yard and practice together and she would defend and I would try to score on her because she played goalie,” Brylee Davis said of her quarantine practices with sister Lexi. “That just helped a lot, being able to practice in the offseason.”
Others, such as the Durbin sisters, would come out to Elizabethtown’s practice field when they could.
“We were super limited on field time during corona, because we couldn’t all practice as a team and there were pods and things like that,” Ella Durbin said. “My sister and I would go to the field right here and we’d go practice and shoot and work on our skills together and I thought that helped us both with our game.”
Black agreed the number of sisters who had a teammate in the house was helpful in keeping the team prepared for the shortened 2020 season.
This, along with just practicing with their older sisters regardless of the guidelines in place, has Black excited about the direction the program is headed in.
“That’s one great thing it does for the younger group is they really are working with more experienced and very polished players that help them with their skills and help them with what they’re doing,” Black said. “I’m looking forward to the younger group even being better than the older group I have now, just because of that.”
While social distancing and a shorter schedule have made for a different year for Elizabethtown girls’ soccer, many of the team’s older sisters were glad to know that even after they’ve graduated, they will still have a direct connection to the Lady Panthers for a few more years to come.
For many of these players, having a younger sister step into a varsity role will be another chapter of a long history of Elizabethtown soccer.
“Our dad played whenever he was in high school for E’town, so I feel like we’ve passed it down from him. It wasn’t just from me to Paige,” Rori Campbell said. “Even though we don’t share a last name, I still feel that connection.”
The Lady Panther varsity went 12-0-1 during the regular season and faces North Hardin today in a 17th District Tournament matchup.