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Women’s Rowing: Sisters guide each other on and off the water

Sam Gans | Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Making the jump from high school competition to Notre Dame athletics can be strenuous for many freshmen, regardless of the sport. But having a sibling already on the Irish team can make that transition easier.

Such is the case for freshman Elizabeth Linnemanstons, who joined her sister, senior Katherine Linnemanstons, for the Irish this season. The personal relationship has helped form a connection on the water, more so than the typical relationship between an upperclassman and a freshman.

“It’s fantastic because it’s a built-in role model right there,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve always kind of looked up to her, and seeing her be such a good rower — it’s a great motivation for me.”

Katherine provides her younger sister guidance not only when competing on the lakes, but also in her campus life. Having a sibling nearby the first few months on campus allowed Elizabeth to make the most of academic and other opportunities.

“It was great to have someone here to make the adjustment so much easier,” Elizabeth said. “If I had a problem or if I was struggling in a class, I’d just call my sister and she’d be there in a second to help me.”

Though Katherine is available to provide support for Elizabeth, the Mequon, Wis., natives also know when the time comes to keep their relationship distant.

“I’d like to think I set a good example for her and helped her, but I really think it’s her own college experience as well and not just following in my footsteps,” Katherine said. “So I’ve tried to let her do her own thing [and] find her own way.”

Being sisters can also make things difficult on the team, but Elizabeth and Katherine try not to make that much of an issue.

“When we’re on the team, it’s a ‘teammate-teammate’ thing more than ‘sister-sister’,” Elizabeth said. “She doesn’t like it when I treat her different than any other senior.”

Like most athletic siblings, a “friendly” rivalry in athletics emerged while growing up. But through the competitiveness, they became closer.

“We fought every day. We still do,” Katherine said. “We’re incredibly competitive in everything we do, which makes being on a team and being on campus together very interesting. “But we’re also each other’s biggest fans, so I know that no matter how much we want to kill each other after a practice, we can go back to being best friends immediately.”

This tenacity was also displayed on the rugby pitch when competing for national power Divine Savior Holy Angels High School.

“We’ve always been too far apart [in age] to be exactly side-by-side compared, but my [rugby] coach kept saying to me, ‘Elizabeth, are you going to be as good as Katherine?’ And that was my goal by my junior year — to be better than my sister. And although we played different positions, our coach always said that I gave my sister a great run for her money.”

While Katherine participates primarily in top varsity races, Elizabeth is hoping to overtake her older rival, and sooner rather than later.

“My goal, which will probably never be fulfilled within this year, is to beat my sister,” Elizabeth said. “But it’s fun because I’ve set that and my parents see that and they love that [goal].”