Every so often a pair of siblings will make it in the elite athletic world. We’ve all heard of Venus and Serena Williams dominating the tennis realm. The 2006 NFL Season felt a little more dramatic when the Colts and the Giants pitted the Manning brothers against each other. Even at Northwestern there are a few families starting their own legacies.
Northwestern’s athletic rosters claim eight sets of siblings, three of which are twins. These duos make for unique teammates offering both a support system and a little rivalry in practice and in games.
Softball showcases a pair of sisters who seem perfectly in sync. Communication senior Erin Dyer, 22, and Communication junior, Kelly Dyer, 20, have played together all their life. Though home isn’t far, just south of Chicago, the first year apart was difficult for Erin. “I initially thought this was a huge mistake,” she admits. But as softball season picked up, Northwestern grew on her.
“I think it had a lot to do with Kelly being able to come up and hang out and see games, and then the World Series happened, and it was just like I belonged.”
The sisters have been reunited here for the past three years, and Erin highlights their chemistry.
“It’s a lot of fun because I know what Kelly’s thinking, and she doesn’t have to say anything,” she said. “We always work well together as a team.”
Kelly echoes the sentiment. “She knows everything about me and I know everything about her. It’s like we read each other’s minds.” This instinctive telepathy is a rare but valuable quality between teammates.
Mocchi twins Allison, a SESP freshman and Maggie, a Weinberg freshman, both 19, report similar attitudes on the basketball court.
“Knowing each other so well gives us an advantage,” Maggie says. “I know her next move and where she is on the court.”
The freshmen pair play the same position, guard, so they face some direct competition. They seem to thrive on it though. “It’s for the best because if one move isn’t working, then you work on another,” Maggie said. “We’re competing against one another to get better, so it’s helpful.”
Being twins, it’s difficult to establish prominence. The Mocchis agree they have some variance in personality quirks.
“Allison is a lot more laid back, and a little goofier,” Maggie says. But it looks as though the battle has hit the stats report. According to NUSports.com, Maggie is an inch taller, a claim which Allison is indignant about. “She lied and added an extra inch!” she exclaims. Maggie just smiles sheepishly saying, “It depends on whether I’m wearing shoes or not.”
Playful sibling rivalry like this among athletes is fairly common. Weinberg freshman Brett Nagel, 19, enjoys going head to head with his brother, Weinberg sophomore, Aaron Nagel, 20, on the football field.
“He’s playing defense and I’m playing offense,” Brett explains. “It’s fun, we line up across from each other quite a bit.”
The oldest two of six children, Aaron says the brothers are close. “He’s one of my good buddies.” Brett adds that growing up sharing everything, including a room, has made them very similar. Still, the two joke easily about their relationship. Aaron said, “There aren’t too many downsides, besides having to see him every day.”
This type of good-natured teasing between brothers is evident in the Nagel’s teammates, the Williams, as well. SESP junior Nate, 21, will politely declare, “We’re happy to be brothers.”
His younger brother, Weinberg freshman Quentin, 19, is more willing to add the dissenting factor. “We share a car. He hogs it most of the time.”
The two shared more than a vehicle this past year though as they both faced off as linebackers. Quentin, who now plays defensive end, said that playing the same position was “a pro because made us better, but a con because you’re fighting against each other.”
Nate gets an opportunity to support his younger brother outside of football as well, as Quentin balances his time between both football and baseball at Northwestern. “I come out to just about every game and try to cheer him on,” Nate explains. “But I always give him a bit of a hard time when he strikes out.”
For some of these duos, sticking together wasn’t always the plan. Kelly Dyer wanted to take a different path than her sister. “I thought maybe I should do my own thing, but once I came here and met the team I couldn’t turn it down. I think it was the best fit for the both of us.”
The Nagel brothers arrived simultaneously as Aaron transferred from Notre Dame and Brett settled on Northwestern seeing it as the best option for coaching as well as academics.
Each athlete seems to have come to their own decision when signing with Northwestern, though Nate concedes it took convincing for Quentin.
“I kind of twisted his arm a bit to get him to come here,” he says. “It’s a good experience though, since we get to fly out there wearing the same jersey.”
For Quentin, however, it was the coaching staff that clinched it. “It had a little bit to do with Nate, but a lot to do with the people here,” he explains. “When I first met Coach Fitz, I knew he would take this program far.”
Family connections make for strong unity and chemistry between teammates at Northwestern. Each athlete has an opportunity to stand out on his own, of course, but a lot of stock is held this unique relationship. The Dyer sisters, each producing outstanding performances in their softball season, face the end of their time together at Northwestern as Erin prepares to graduate.
“It’s been good to have Erin here the past three years and grow my way through college with her,” Kelly recalls. “I’ve loved every minute of it and I’ll definitely miss her when she leaves.”
The simplest display of the strength of connection in all these sets of sibs can be seen when you ask them to describe their similarities and differences. While they can rattle off similarities in personality, sense of humor and temperaments, the question of differences leaves each athlete stumped. Most resort to searching their counterpart for some hint of disparity to no avail. After years of living, fighting, joking and playing together these brothers and sisters find no better answer than that of Aaron Nagel: “I don’t know, Brett enjoys fish and I don’t. That’s about it.”
The original version of this story implied that the Colts and Giants played in the 2006 Super Bowl.