Brothers and sisters know how siblings can push the right buttons to get under their skin almost whenever they want.
Sibling battles can be intense, but for many, there is no one in the world they care about more. Two sisters on the Penn field hockey team certainly feel that way.
“We are just really lucky … It’s so hard to put into words,” said Caroline Olt, who plays on the team with her younger sister, Olivia.
Caroline, a senior and co-captain, and Olivia, a sophomore, both describe their relationship as “very close.” Two years ago, when Olivia was being recruited to play college field hockey, the choice was clear.
“It was pretty much only Penn for me,” the younger Olt said. “I sort of looked at one other school, but Penn was always a distant first.”
Caroline believes her sister’s decision to come to Penn “was pretty natural,” considering that the two played the same sports and attended the same schools growing up.
“Because we’ve played together for so long, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like if [Olivia] hadn’t come to Penn,” Caroline added.
The Hershey, Pa., natives both took up field hockey in elementary school, but since they are two years apart, they didn’t actually play on the same team until they were in high school.
That first year together is one neither sister will ever forget. It was 2006 — Caroline was a junior and Olivia a freshman for Lower Dauphin High School.
Their school traditionally has a strong field hockey program, but that year, the team went 29-0 en route to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state title.
“Winning states and being able to share that with [Olivia] was awesome,” Caroline reminisced. “When you come off the field after a victory like that, and give your sister a hug, it’s a great feeling.”
Lower Dauphin field hockey coach Linda Kreiser has led several state championship teams during her tenure, but she recognized that the 2006 team was special.
“It was one of the best seasons we’ve ever had in the history of our Lower Dauphin program,” Kreiser said. “It was so neat for them to be able to share that together.”
While the 2006 championship was certainly special for Olivia, another moment shared with her sister stands out to her even more.
The summer prior to her senior season, Olivia tore her anterior cruciate ligament and ultimately would miss her last year of high-school field hockey.
“When I got home from the doctor, and [Caroline] saw me, I remember she cried longer than I did,” Olivia remembered. “She hugged me and she just lost it.”
As she recalled the experience, Olivia began to tear up herself.
“That’s just a huge moment for me, just because our bond was so clear. She understood better than anybody.”
“Most siblings have an unspoken bond, where you sort of just understand what is going on with the other person,” Caroline added. “You know them so well.”
Olivia’s team went on to win another state title that season. Although she did not play in a game, she was elected a captain by her teammates and played a role as quasi-assistant coach.
“She understands the game so well that I actually gave her drills to run, and she would be in charge of stuff,” Kreiser said. “I think Olivia made the best of the situation.”
Now, in what may be their last season together as teammates, the sisters are enjoying the benefits of playing alongside each other.
“I feel like it’s good to have someone who will be completely honest with you,” Caroline said. “I can come off the field, and she can say ‘You missed this reception,’ … or ‘You’re having a great game, maybe change this one thing,’ and I think that’s really great.”
Olivia said having Caroline at Penn helped her transition from high school to college.
“There was a level of comfort coming in that I think really benefitted me as a freshman.”
Off the field hockey pitch, it is also nice just to have a sibling so close.
“There are times here at school when I’ve just needed Olivia, and I’ve been so lucky that she was here to help me out or talk to me,” Caroline said. “I didn’t have to call her or anything like that, I could just go over to her house.”
And being so nearby has led to an even closer bond.
“You know every part of the other person’s life, especially because athletics is a huge part of who you are,” Olivia added.
Caroline and Olivia could not be happier with the way everything worked out, and they understand how rare it is for two siblings to be able to play together on a Division I team.
“We’re lucky that it worked out and we could come to a school like Penn, both of us, and to be able to both participate in athletics is just the ideal situation,” Caroline said. “It’s just great that it turned out this way.”
And while their time as teammates will not last forever, they will enjoy every minute of it while they still can.
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