By Jason Hortsch Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
As Kassi and Lorielle McCluskie sit down, their similarities are striking. The sibling chemistry is immediately present as well, with several glances and inside jokes shared between the two. They have been given a special opportunity to play together here at UP, and they both know it.
"It's pretty awesome. Not everyone is given that opportunity, especially at a top 10 school," Kassi, a senior, said.
"It's definitely nice. It's not as scary. You at least know one person going in, and I was already familiar with the place. It's great having her around," Lorielle, a freshman, agrees.
Both siblings certainly took note of the program's success when deciding to come here from Scottsdale Ariz., but also realized that UP can offer much more than just winning.
"I came to UP for the environment and the people," Lorielle said.
"I came for basically the same reasons. Also, my dream has always been to win a national championship," Kassi said.
There is also a genuine mutual respect shared between the two. Kassi in particular wants to make sure her younger sister is given the proper credit she deserves.
"I'm ecstatic about her playing here, as long as she's not known as Kassi's little sister. I want her to be Lorielle."
On her end, Lorielle knows she can learn much from the experience of her older sister, a veteran of the college atmosphere.
"I look up to her on the field a lot. By playing with her I can grow as a player myself," Lorielle said.
In addition to sharing this mutual respect, the two sisters also play in the same position: defense. They both know what it takes to play such a demanding position and do not shy away from their responsibilities.
"Our job is to organize constantly," Kassi said. "Being a defender is more in your head than anywhere else on the field. We need 90 minute concentration."
"You want no shots on goal," Lorielle said. "Not just no goals, but no shots on goal. You don't want to even give the other team an opportunity to score."
The tone of the conversation instantly turns serious again when they discuss their goals.
Kassi leaves no doubt as to what she wants to accomplish in her final year with the team.
"I look forward to winning the national championship with my sister. I know we just lost against San Diego State, but one of the players from the 2002 national championship team just talked with us and told us they lost their first two games of the season."
"It's not an unreasonable goal," Lorielle said. "Everything's always better with family. We could do it together."
Since they are both dedicated students of the game, they followed the U.S. Women's National Team run at the World Cup this summer.
"It was disappointing to see them lose," Kassi said. "It was really cool to see a bunch of UP alumni playing. I followed it more this year than ever. I'm happy for Japan's team and their country though."
"The U.S. did well. If they had to lose to someone, at least it was Japan," Lorielle agrees.
It is not always just soccer with these two, though. They have certainly had their share of fond childhood memories.
"We used to make up dances all the time, and we used to love singing Shania Twain. We would also make forts with a little fridge and TV and watch Richard Simmons workout videos," Lorielle said.
Like all siblings, they have also had their fair share of spats.
"One time when we were younger, I came into her room," Lorielle said. "And she got really mad at me. We were screaming, and when I went to walk out of the room I turned back to yell at her and I hit the door frame. I ended up on the ground bleeding."
In true older sibling form, Kassie has also used her sister as a scapegoat.
"When we were younger, I was sneaking chocolate chips in the kitchen and they spilled all over the floor. I blamed it on Lorielle, and didn't tell our parents until years later," Kassi said.
Despite the occasional bickering, it is readily apparent that both Kassi and Lorielle are a special duo. Rarely are two athletes on a Division 1 team able to share the close bond afforded to siblings, and they intend to use this connection to help the team fulfill its ultimate goal: winning a national championship.