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SMC sister teams provide support

Bridget Feeney | Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When the pressure of schoolwork and sports begins to stress a Saint Mary’s athlete, she can turn to a member of her sister team for support. Each year, the Department of Athletics pairs athletic teams as sister teams that support each other throughout their season.

Belles cross-country coach Jackie Bauters said the sister team program is beneficial to student athletes.

“I really like the sister teams because it gives our athletes a way to connect with other athletes who are going through the same things — balancing school and a varsity sport — and it also gives them a way to motivate and encourage each other,” Bauters said. “One of the nice things about sister teams is really making the connections and feeling supported by the student body for our student athletes.”

The cross-country team is paired with the swim team, Bauters said.

“This year we are doing one of our service events with the swim team over fall break, which should be fun,” Bauters said.

In addition to performing service together, sister teams encourage each other in small ways throughout the year.

Junior cross-country runner Angela Nebesny said these little gestures remind each other of support from other athletes during the season.

“Sister teams make goodie bags and signs for each other wishing the other athletes luck in their meet or game,” Nebesny said. “The program also involves trying to attend a meet or game in order to cheer on the other athletes and show support in person. And we usually have team dinners now and then where we get to know the other team on a personal level.”

Junior swimmer Kristyn Gerbeth said she also enjoys the support of a sister team.

“There are a number of benefits to the sister team program,” Gerbeth said. “It helps to have added support from other girls who are part of a sports team and we all appreciate the time and effort it takes balancing out school and our sport. It’s encouraging to see some of our fellow students and friends there cheering for us at our meets. It helps develop new friendships.”

Gerbeth and Nebesny are not only members of sister teams, but they are also roommates.

“[Being on sister teams and rooming together] has brought us closer,” Gerbeth said. “We both understand the pressures of having to get up early for those morning practices and not being able to ‘go out’ with our friends sometimes because of our commitments to our team. I know that I really appreciate having Angela as a roommate because I can talk to her when I get frustrated and I know she understands what I’m going through.”

Not only do the sister teams encourage and support one another during practices and competitions, Bauters said they spread awareness on campus of the Saint Mary’s athletics.

“Through the sister teams, people bring friends to games or meets that might not otherwise come out,” Bauters said. “Hopefully, it brings a larger awareness of our programs to the campus. We have some pretty amazing student-athletes and this is one way to get more people out to see them in action.”