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Coetzee Sisters Featured in Ohio Today

Jan. 27, 2006

Story by Breana Krotz | Photography by Rick Fatica

Ohio Athletics has taken competition to another level -- this time with a little sibling rivalry.

In all, eight families can claim more than one member involved in intercollegiate athletics on campus this year.

Whether recruited by an older brother or sister's coach, intrigued by academic or athletic offerings or enchanted by the campus, these brother-brother, brother-sister and sister-sister combos are happy to be in school with their sibs, rivals or not.

"Having multiple members of families competing or coaching for the Ohio Bobcats is nothing new. Alumni may remember the Green brothers, who were outstanding kickers on the football team throughout the 1970s," says Assistant Athletic Director Derek Scott. "But to have so many kids competing right now who have siblings competing here at the same time is pretty amazing."

Imagine traveling halfway around the world and still having a treasure from home at your side. For twins Rachelle and Estienne Coetzee, playing, living and taking classes together has made the transition to college a bit easier.

When the South African sisters are not dominating their field hockey opponents, they appear to be like any other Ohio University students -- enjoying school, hanging out with teammates and watching "Alias" and "The O.C." But their road to Athens was not the typical one.

The freshmen followed their older sister to the States. Also athletic, Karin played tennis at Wake Forest University, where associate field hockey coach Neil Macmillan doubled as her calculus tutor. He soon discovered she had two sisters back home who played field hockey, and when Macmillan became the Bobcats' head coach, Rachelle and Estienne chose Ohio University.

The twins, whose native language is Afrikanns, say they couldn't wait to get to Athens to experience the adventures of college.

"Growing up we were always together. We were troublemakers together," Rachelle says. "One time we put the cat in the dryer. We would climb everything -- trees, doorways. I can't imagine being here without her."

The Coetzees, known to each other as Pollie and Lalla -- their childhood nicknames, say they're alike in many ways. But each of the twins takes after a different parent.

"Estienne has her own way, her own mind, and I love that about her," Rachelle says.

Breana Krotz, BSJ '05, was a student writer for University Communications and Marketing from the fall of 2002 through the fall of 2005.