Sisters by chance, teammates by talent

Hails’ grow closer through varsity lacrosse team


photo courtesy of Avery Calderon

Sisters Ansley (left) and Mary (right) Hails pose for a photo before their game against Pattonville High School, where they won 16-7. During the game, senior captain Ansley scored two goals and both Ansley and Mary won two ground balls. The sisters also chose sister numbers for their jerseys, with Mary choosing 22 and Ansley choosing 23.

Jack Daws, Opinions Editor

Sports teams are known for creating bonds between players that can make teammates become like family, and sometimes, family members become teammates. Senior Ansley Hails has played lacrosse on the varsity team since she was a freshman. Now, her sister, freshman Mary Hails, is playing on the varsity team as well.

Although the spring 2020 season was canceled, Ansley was chosen as a team captain after what would have been her sophomore season.

“I was chosen after my sophomore year. They tell you at the end of the season, and normally we have a vote, but since the season was canceled, the previous captains and the coaches discussed it and picked me, and then they showed up to my house and were like ‘hey you’re a captain,’” Ansley said. 

Head coach Carrie Guenzler-Heaney said Ansley has been an important leader on the team.

“As a four-year varsity player, Ansley is the stabilizing backbone of the team. She is driven yet calm, critical yet positive, and dedicated to the necessary reflection off of the field that is needed to make progressive changes on the field. Ansley is the ideal bridge between the coaches and our thoughts and the players and their perspectives,” Guenzler-Heaney said.

As freshmen, both Ansley and Mary impressed their coaches enough to be moved to the varsity team.

“Even as a more passive and shy freshman, Ansley already had great stick stills, good field sense, and was super smart and coachable. Not only did she make the team, but within a few weeks had earned her way into the starting lineup by the time we had our first game,” Guenzley-Heaney said. “Mary is also very coachable and has great field awareness, especially when it comes to defensive sense. You can tell she’s played basketball, and usually basketball players make solid lacrosse players.”

For Ansley, being moved to varsity as a freshman was daunting at first, but ended up prompting her to make friends. She says two or three freshmen are usually moved up to the varsity team. Seniors Izzy Grander and Emma Simmons were moved up to the varsity team shortly after Ansley during their freshman year.

“I’ve loved it. My freshman year was super scary, because I was the only freshman [on varsity] for a while before Izzy Grander and Emma Simmons got moved up. I didn’t know anybody else on the team, so it was really scary, but forced me to become friends with everyone, which is kind of nice. It just became a really big group of friends,” Ansley said.

Mary had been hoping to get on the varsity team, practicing as much as she could throughout middle school to improve.

“After Ansley made varsity her freshman year, I watched a lot of varsity games, and I knew I wanted to be on the varsity field with the pressure and the excitement,” Mary said. “For three years, I have always had this team in the back of my mind as I worked towards making varsity as a freshman. I especially focused really hard this year by playing a lot in the backyard and trying to improve with Ansley.”

Ansley and Mary first bonded over lacrosse because they both started learning from their father.

 “My dad is really happy about it. He’s always wanted to see both of us be on the same team. My entire family is super excited to see us play together,” Ansley said.

Ansley hopes that Mary will benefit from already knowing some of the players through Ansley and have an easier time making friends.

“When I was a freshman, I was super quiet and didn’t really know anybody, and she’s kind of the same way where she’s super quiet, but she already knows me and my friends,” Ansley said. “She really looks up to a lot of the girls on the team.”

Avery Calderon, another senior captain, is a close friend of both the sisters.

“I think [Mary] and Avery have a really funny relationship. They just know each other so well because Avery and I have been friends for so long, and we always drag Mary along with us when we’re doing stuff,” Ansley said.

Calderon’s friendship with Ansley made it feel easy for her to bond with Mary.

“My relationship with Mary feels very natural and kind of like a big sister. I feel like I have to give her a bit of trouble and mess with her but also make sure she knows I’m there for her,” Calderon said.

While Mary admits she felt nervous about being on the team, she has had success in bonding with the other girls.

“At first, I was a little nervous and stuck by my sister most of the time. I was especially nervous to put my bag next to the varsity bags when I made the team because I didn’t know if they really wanted me there. Luckily, I realized that all of the girls are really friendly and welcoming and I have a really great time with the team,” she said.

Playing on the same team has allowed Ansley and Mary to spend much more time together and grow closer together.

 “We weren’t at the same school for a while, so we didn’t see each other that much. I think that going to school together and playing lacrosse has made us closer,” Ansley said.

Mary said that playing with her sister has given them something to bond over unlike anything they’ve previously shared as sisters.

“I love having my sister as a teammate because I know I can trust her for any problems on or off the field, and we really understand each other. I am truly grateful to play lacrosse with her everyday. Playing lacrosse together gives us a connection and trust different from sharing a room for years in elementary school or other things we do as sisters,” Mary said.

Ansley and Mary are not the only set of sisters on the varsity lacrosse team. Juniors Cecilia Roy and Lily Roy are twins, and sophomore Adalia Romero and freshman Norah Romero are sisters.

Ansley said, “We’re definitely close [as a team] because of that. There’s about 20 people on the team, and six of us are related to someone else on the team. A lot of them are some of my best friends. It’s just a really close team. I’m friends with everyone, it’s really nice.”

Mary said that the team itself acts just like a family. 

“The team really does come together to feel like a family. We joke with each other and have a lot of fun together, but we work together as a team and family against opponents. Having sisters just makes the team closer because we understand each other, and we feel each other’s wins and losses like they are our own. I know what every ground ball and goal means to Ansley, so they mean a lot to me, too. We have such a great group of girls, and everyone is important in creating the lacrosse family that is so successful on the field,” Mary said.