Success is all in the family for Winfields
With a Hall of Famer for a father, two Penn athletes have always had to live up to their famous last name
October 1, 2013, 7:52 pm·
When freshman Arielle Winfield goes for a kill on the volleyball court, she hits the ball hard.
Just like her dad.
Dave Winfield Sr. had 3,110 hits, 465 home runs and 1,833 RBIs during his major league baseball career, making him a perennial all-star and first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Growing up with a father who was chasing World Series rings by day and changing diapers by night was certainly difficult.
“I felt like I had to share him with the world,” Arielle wrote in an email.
Her father shared that sentiment and added that it was “the toughest thing a parent has to do, but equally rewarding.”
After Dave Sr.’s career ended, he remained in the spotlight by taking a job as an analyst for ESPN, which continued to present a challenge for the family. But with perseverance and dedication, the Winfields overcame that obstacle and continued to remain close as a family.
As a middle blocker for Penn’s women’s volleyball, Arielle doesn’t exactly have the lengthy experience that most people have back in the volleyball powerhouse of California.
“I actually never even knew what volleyball was until I was in the sixth grade,” Arielle said. “Compared to a lot of volleyball players, I started really late.”
Though an elementary school volleyball game served as a springboard for her eventual collegiate career, that didn’t translate into immediate success. She was actually cut the first time she tried out for a team in middle school.
When cut, her father challenged her by asking what she would do about it.
Arielle responded emphatically, guaranteeing that she would make the team next year. From there, the rest is history. In addition to track and field, Arielle became a standout volleyball star in high school and even helped her club volleyball team win a silver medal at the Junior Olympics this past year.
But Arielle isn’t the only natural athlete in the family.
Her twin brother Dave Jr. plays as a center for Penn’s men’s basketball team. Both siblings dabbled in baseball for brief periods of time, and Dave Jr. actually stuck with the sport until he was about 14 years old.
It was then that he decided to pursue a new passion: basketball.
“A lot of people were expecting a ridiculous amount out of me at such a young age,” Dave Jr. said.
The Winfield moniker brought along assumptions of immediate greatness that rivaled the levels of his father. The pressure to follow in Dave Sr.‘s footsteps actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Dave Jr. found his niche in basketball, and helped him obtain a McDonald’s All-American nominee his senior year of high school.
When asked how they feel about having a sibling in such close proximity, both expressed elation but were sure to emphasize that they gave each other their “space.”
“Dave and I never put pressure on each other to attend the same school,” Arielle said. ”But, since we did end up in the same place, I couldn’t be happier about it.
“We give each other our space here, but it’s awesome knowing that I can go to my brother whenever I need him.”
Dave Jr. conceded the fact that Arielle’s commitment to Penn had some influence on him, but there were a variety of other factors that contributed to the decision. He also admitted there’s a little bit of a sibling rivalry between the two, something that pushes them to become better athletes while supporting each other’s progress.
In his Hall of Fame induction speech in 2001, Dave Sr. stressed the importance of “lifelong learning, opening minds and overcoming adversity” as key factors to becoming a successful person and athlete.
Dave Sr. has tried to pass this philosophy onto his children, and his kids have overcome obstacles from “bad coaches, injuries and even fighting for a starting job” throughout the years.
Emerging from the shadows of such a hallowed surname is certainly a daunting task, but it is something that Arielle and Dave Jr. think is possible.
Arielle is emphatic that, regardless of what her last name is, “hard work can take [her] where [she wants] to go in life.”