By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published May 4, 2017
Caroline and Lexi Orman of St. Pius X High School, Atlanta, inspired “The Siblings of Spring Sports,” a series that concludes in this issue of The Georgia Bulletin. The Orman twins were on the National Signing Day list in the Feb. 23 issue as they committed to play soccer at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.
Their teamwork raised the question of what it was like for siblings to play the same sport on the same team. Further digging revealed other twins and one set of triplets among numerous pairs of siblings, playing five different sports (baseball, golf, lacrosse, soccer and track) at four Catholic high schools. Six sets of siblings were introduced in the April 20 issue. Four more are profiled here, along with some lacrosse siblings from Pinecrest Academy. Additional siblings will appear in the online version at georgiabulletin.org.
Tripp and Jack Koenig (brothers)
Ages: Tripp, 17, Jack, 15
School: St. Pius X High School, Atlanta
ATLANTA—Tripp and Jack are great names for golfers, particularly for the Koenig brothers who play on the golf team at St. Pius X High School. Tripp is the only senior on the team, while Jack is one of five freshmen on the squad.
Jack was actually drawn to the sport first, but then Tripp was the first who, in his words, “threw everything I had into the game.” Tripp said he loves the outdoors and enjoys the peace and quiet of the golf course.
Tripp joined the St. Pius team his sophomore year, but both brothers played on their middle school golf team.
“The best thing about playing with my brother is he can always take me to golf tournaments and practices, but sometimes when I want to take a break, I really don’t have a choice because my brother is my driver,” said Jack.
“I know my brother is the better golfer,” said Jack. “But most likely his best attribute is that he always pushes for better and never settles for OK.”
Tripp said what impresses him most about his brother is his willingness to work at improving his game.
“For instance, right now he is working on his swing, although he knows it will make it harder to play now,” said Tripp. “He’s thinking about his future, which shows a lot of maturity.”
So far their most celebratory moment came when Jack made the team. They marked the occasion by going to Steak ’n Shake for some milkshakes.
Jack said he’ll miss the car rides with Tripp and his brother’s tips on how and where to improve his game. Tripp is undecided about his major, but he’ll be enrolling in the University of Georgia Honors Program.
Victoria and Veronica Winkeljohn (twins)
School: St. Pius X High School, Atlanta
ATLANTA—Victoria and Veronica Winkeljohn, better known as Tori and Roni, aren’t the only siblings on the St. Pius X High School girls lacrosse team, but they’re the only set of twins. You’ll usually find the two juniors, who have been on the team for all three years, playing defensive positions.
They started playing lacrosse at Inman Middle School, recruited by the coach, who was a friend of their father. The team needed players, and the coach insisted the twins, who were athletic, try it. They’ve been playing lacrosse ever since.
When they were younger, they played other sports together, including basketball, gymnastics and soccer. At St. Pius they are also in competition cheerleading. They started out as flyers, but now they are bases. Those are the cheerleaders who lift and throw the flyers.
“The best thing about playing with Tori is being able to play with someone who you work so well with,” said Veronica. “As twins we do practically everything together, and we know each other so well.”
That translates into their defensive roles on the field, she said.
Victoria said the hardest thing about playing the same sport is the endless comparisons people make.
One of the best attributes her sister brings to the team is her attitude, she said.
“Roni is constantly cracking jokes and uplifting the team,” said Victoria. But when it’s time to be focused during practice or the game, she can do that as well. “She never fails to encourage the team when we’re struggling or not working together.”
Veronica said her twin’s work ethic, on and off the field, impresses her.
“Tori doesn’t like to give up and she’s a perfectionist, to say the least,” said Veronica. “Just about everything she does, she puts forth a full effort and makes sure it’s her best.”
The twins are members of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Atlanta.
Alex and Sam McFarland (triplet brothers)
School: Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell
ROSWELL—Blessed Trinity High School seniors Alex and Sam McFarland are the only triplets in this feature on siblings playing a spring sport. Their older sister, Kate, who also attends Blessed Trinity, doesn’t participate in sports, but supports her brothers by attending their games. Kate is three minutes older than Alex and Alex is three minutes older than Sam.
The brothers began playing baseball and lacrosse together as fourth-graders in elementary school. Alex played first base and pitched, but Sam was an outfielder.
“You can imagine there’s not a lot of action in the outfield at that age,” said Sam.
As they grew older they dropped baseball and settled on lacrosse. Alex and Sam have played varsity lacrosse at Blessed Trinity all four years. Alex plays attack and had 18 goals and six assists during the regular season. Sam is a defender and started all 17 of the team’s games.
“The hardest thing about playing with my brother is we’re matched up against each other at practice,” said Alex.
Even though one brother is on offense and the other is on defense, they still hold each other accountable, and the years of playing together has created a trust factor between them that carries over into the games.
“I would say the thing that Alex does well on the field is how he is able to work his feet to create defensive shifts, which lead to goals,” said Sam.
“Both Sam and Alex are huge for our team,” said head lacrosse coach Bobby Parker. “Alex has provided a great amount of vocal leadership and Sam has provided a ‘lead by example’ attitude for the team and is a tireless worker.”
Once they graduate, the triplets will head off to different universities. Alex is heading to Clemson University, South Carolina, where he hopes to play club lacrosse. Sam will be attending Georgia Tech, Atlanta, and Kate will enroll at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.
Julia and Camila Del Bosque (twins)
School: Holy Spirit Preparatory School, Atlanta
ATLANTA—Fourteen-year-old Julia and Camila Del Bosque are the youngest sport siblings in this series. The freshman twins started running track and cross-country together at Holy Spirit Preparatory School as eighth-graders.
For the past five years they’ve practiced karate and mixed martial arts, and running became a by-product of that sport. Julia was first drawn to running during a karate beach camp one summer.
“I came in second place during the 5 a.m., four-mile morning run,” said Julia, the older twin by five minutes. “I realized that not only did I like to run, but that I was good at it.”
Both sisters admit they’re “very competitive,” but they push each other to get better. While they may be twins, they attempt to distinguish themselves as track athletes.
“I run longer distances, the 3200-meter and the 1600-meter, and Camila is a middle distance runner at 800 meters,” said Julia.
However, they both competed in the 1600-meter at the Georgia Independent School Association state track meet April 27-29.
There was an occasion when they ran against another set of twins from the Atlanta Girls’ School.
“They placed in the top 10, and we placed first and second, so now we follow each other on social media,” said Julia.
The sisters have seen improvements in their times this season. According to the track coach Mike Spino, Julia shaved five seconds off her 1600-meter time and some 20 seconds off her 3200-meter time. Camila trimmed last year’s 2:46 in the 800-meter to 2.36 this year.
“They are both very hard trainers,” said Spino. “They thank me after every practice even if it is extremely intense.”
When one sister is racing, the other is cheering and calling out her times at certain distances and intervals. It’s a courtesy that extends to teammates, too.
“They bring much to the cross-country and track team with always being positive and cheering on others when they aren’t running themselves,” said Spino.