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Sister Acts:Sibling student athletes share ‘familiar’ stories

by Sports Information Director Jerry Reilly

Courtney and Rachel Poirier share a unique bond — so unique, that sometimes it’s unrecognizable.

Twin sisters from West Seneca, N.Y., the Poiriers started playing volleyball together when they were 12 years old. When they entered Fredonia together last fall instead of going off to different colleges, they chose to postpone inevitable separation anxiety.

Courtney (left) and Rachel Poirier


“When you go through your whole life,” Courtney said, “and everyone sees you not just as yourself, but you’re looked at as two people instead of one, it’s hard to go from that to being on your own.”

The Poiriers are among five sets of twins who enrolled at Fredonia last fall. Those numbers are consistent with most years, meaning at any one time there are upwards of 20 sets on campus.

While there are no hard figures to prove it, sisters have a tendency to go to college together more so than brothers — and not just twins. In 2014-15 alone, there are four sister-sister combinations on Blue Devil teams.

Katie (left) and Kristie Kleine

In addition to the Poiriers, junior twins Madeline and Megan Medina of Hamburg, N.Y., are softball teammates. The Kleine sisters from Cazenovia, N.Y. — fifth-year senior Katie and sophomore Kristie — are teammates on two teams (lacrosse and soccer), while Meghan and Katie Devine of Clarence, N.Y., are team captains in separate sports (senior Meghan in track and field, and junior Katie in basketball).


By comparison, there are no siblings in 2014-15 on any of Fredonia’s men’s teams.

For the Devines, one visit to campus made all the difference. “We both visited together,” Meghan said. “I remember falling in love with it and deciding [during] that visit I would apply. I figured being a year older and going to school first would mean she wouldn’t want to go to the same place, but it ended up working out pretty well for both of us.”


Madeline (left) and Megan Medina


“Once we toured the school,” Katie Devine said, “we both knew it would be our future home, as storybook as that sounds.” Because her sister was already on campus and a member of the track and field team, Katie was able to visit and meet some of her future teammates. “She helped me connect with the basketball team before I even went to school, helping me already create a family outside my biological one.”

While Meghan said she never tried to influence her younger sister’s choice, Katie Kleine clearly wanted Kristie to follow her and feel the comfort of having a loved one nearby — just as she had.

Katie enrolled in the fall of 2010 instead of attending Oswego, where older sister Kassie was a student. Yet Katie’s Fredonia choice was still about family. She and her first cousin, Erica Beesmer, an eventual 2014 Fredonia graduate, had decided they would go to college together.

“I knew I’d feel more comfortable going somewhere where I knew someone,” Katie Kleine said. “And I loved Fredonia.”

As Kristie was getting ready to choose between Fredonia and a school in New York City, Katie tried to influence the decision without being too pushy about it. “I was like, ‘Please come to Fredonia. It’ll be fun, and if you don’t like it, you can always transfer out,’” Katie recalled.

Kristie made her college choice during the spring of her senior year at Cazenovia High School.

“I chose Fredonia,” she said, “so I could play with my sister for two years. I always thought I’d eventually transfer, but it’s not going to happen right now. I like it here too much.”

Katie was injured during the 2013 lacrosse season, her second debilitating knee injury while at Fredonia. She was still recuperating in the fall and could not play. Yet Kristie picked up the slack. Using her speed and change of direction, she led the Blue Devils in scoring — as a freshman.

With Katie back from her injury last spring, she and Kristie finally became college lacrosse teammates. They even had a chance to play against Kassie, who also played soccer and lacrosse at Oswego. That game, originally scheduled for Oswego, was moved, fittingly, to Cazenovia College — in their home town — in order to play on a drier field.

The Medina twins, on the other hand, played their second college softball season together last spring. Hard to tell apart away from the softball diamond, they have one very distinguishing characteristic on it: Madeline is left-handed and Megan is right-handed.
“I do not know who is who,” Coach Tony Ciccarello confessed, “unless they have their fielding gloves on or are at bat.”

Others have been fooled, too. The girls once switched classes at Hamburg High School, with Megan sitting in for Madeline and vice versa. Madeline was quickly discovered by Megan’s teacher, yet Madeline’s teacher — the girls’ softball coach — did not catch on right away. “It took her half the class to realize that I wasn’t there and Megan was in my spot,” Madeline said.

“I was having a hard time writing left-handed,” said Megan, as to what gave her away.

Even those closest to them have been confused. Their parents, Elaine and Russ, and older sister, Katie, had just arrived for a Fall 2013 scrimmage game which was already underway. They were still quite a distance from the field when Elaine turned to Katie.
“What’s Madeline doing playing second base?” she asked.
“That’s Megan, mom,” Katie replied.

Madeline did most, if not all, of the college research. Her intention was
to go to school by herself to establish her own identity. Megan told her just the opposite. She said she would be going to school wherever Madeline went.
“I wanted to go to the same school,” Megan said, “because then you have an automatic friend.”

“I wanted to do my own thing,” Madeline countered. “Then we looked at Fredonia. It’s close to home, but still far enough away. It fit all the criteria we wanted in a school.”

The Poiriers know all about doing things together. That’s important in volleyball, where players take cues from the subtle movements of teammates.

“We’ve had fantastic plays together,” Rachel said. “Those I’ll always remember because they happened with Courtney. We don’t even have to talk on the court and we’ll always be communicating.”

“Our brains are alike,” Courtney said. “We’re always thinking the same thing. We have those moments where we say the exact same sentence at the same time. It’s the same way on the volleyball court.”

The Poiriers were recruited from West Seneca West High School by Coach Geoff Braun.
“He needed players at our positions,” Courtney said. “It was sort of a package deal.”

Braun said he has been able to tell the twins apart. Of course, it helps that Courtney is a libero, which means she wears a different-colored jersey than her teammates.

It hasn’t always been that way. When the girls were on the same youth team, a referee negated a play Rachel had made, calling her for illegally touching the ball above the net after starting in the back row. Rachel actually was in the front, while Courtney was in the back.To avoid further confusion, the official made Rachel turn her shirt inside-out.

Like the Medinas, the Poiriers also switched classes in high school — especially if one of them had homework to finish. One would sit in on the class, while the other would get her work done in study hall. They sometimes even took quizzes for each other — but drew the line at taking major tests.

People rarely caught on — not even the time one sister got up during class, left the room, and was soon replaced by her twin. Despite having different clothing and hair styles — and only one wore braces — the teacher, and most classmates, did not notice.
“It was weird,” Rachel said. “I was like, ‘You don’t notice anything different about me?’”

posted @ Thursday, January 22, 2015 11:37 AM by Pamala Colon

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