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Illinois athletics riddled with sibling rivalry

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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 3:48 pm, Wed Sep 25, 2013.

Sometimes we hate our siblings. They get on our nerves and push our buttons. No one knows us better, but that makes it all the more infuriating.

Imagine going to the same school as your sibling. Imagine playing on the same team.

I’ve been there. Most of the time, it’s amazing. I had a built-in support system. Cheerleading was more fun because I got to share it with my sister, with my best friend.

But sometimes, it’s so hard.

In high school I was a senior when my sister was a sophomore. We were never apart. Home, school, practice, home, school, practice, home, school, practice ... you get the point.

Competition is explicit in every sport, but sibling rivalry brings it to another level. Not only was I competing against myself and my teammates to get better, I also had to beat my sister, my flesh and blood.

And you have to beat them. Especially when it’s your younger sibling. You’re supposed to be better, stronger, more knowledgeable. You have to be a leader and an example.

I don’t play sports anymore, but there are a score of siblings sprinkled throughout Illinois athletics who at this very moment are stuck somewhere between love and rivalry. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Both Justin and Jordan Parr transferred to Illinois after brief stints at Parkland College. Same high school, same junior college, same university. Did I mention they’re twins?

The Parr brothers did experience one year of separation. Jordan redshirted for the 2010 season in his first year at Parkland while Justin was able to play, and therefore transferred to Illinois one year sooner.

I wonder if their twin telepathy suffered as a result.

Probably not, considering Parkland College is a mere 15 minutes from Illinois Field.

Coincidentally, both Justin and Jordan were drafted last season, but to different programs. Justin went in the eighth round to the Philadelphia Phillies, and Jordan in the 15th to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Phoenix to Philly is no 15-minute drive.

Meghan and Michelle Frigo for the cross-country team also endure the trials and tribulations of sharing a team. The Frigo sisters differ from Justin and Jordan Parr in that they are two years apart. Meghan is a senior this year while younger sister Michelle is a sophomore.

Both start the 2013 season as distance runners, but Meghan clearly holds the benefit of experience, as her 5k personal best outshines her sister’s by more than a minute.

I wish I could say I was like Meghan — older, more experienced, better. But while I reminisce about my old cheerleading days, my sister can be found rooting on the Badgers in Camp Randall Stadium from the sidelines.

I’m only a little bitter.

Pairs of siblings can be found very frequently in athletics, whether they are competing against each other, or side by side.

In addition to the Parrs and the Frigos, twins Christopher and Brandon Lopez both belong to the Illinois wrestling team, though Christopher wrestles in the heavyweight class, while Brandon competes at 165 pounds.

Both brothers entered the 2013-2014 season off redshirt years, hoping to contribute to a fairly experienced Illinois front.

Other sibling-student-athlete duos include Andrea and Alison DeAngelis — sister swimmers both competing in breaststroke and individual medley, or IM; Tim and Melissa Kopinski, tennis twins playing the same sport on different teams for the same school; and Ashley and Ahlivia Spencer, the once-apart sisters who came together at Illinois only to split again when Ashley left for Texas.

It would seem that with the exception of the Lopez twins, not only do these Illini siblings share a team; they play similar positions or compete in the same events.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Aryn is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at braun17@dailyillini.com Follow her on Twitter @ArynBraun.

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