In the sports world, they say that you spend so much time with your teammates that you practically become a family.
California State University, Stanislaus' (Stan State's) Warriors women’s soccer team seems to have taken the metaphor literally, as senior starters Maryssa McDuffy (senior, Biology) and Nicole Larson (senior, Criminal Justice) get to enjoy the blood, sweat and tears of a season playing alongside their teammates and sisters, Mariah McDuffy (freshman) and Natalie Larson (freshman).
The age gap between the Larsons and the McDuffys provides a less steep learning curve for the younger sisters when it comes to handling all of the aspects of being a student athlete. Through training together on the field, the pairs demonstrate that they are more than willing to assist one another throughout their collegiate years.
Older sisters, Nicole and Maryssa, are grateful for the time they have spent on the field at Stan State. They only wish the best for their younger sisters, leaving them with insightful advice as they continue their college career with the pressure of filling in some big shoes.
“Keep working hard and you will continue to grow as a player,” said Maryssa McDuffy.
“Everything you get from this game is from the work you put into it,” said Nicole Larson.
Natalie Larson is labeled as a defender but due to her versatility as an athlete, she is finding new ways to be able to contribute to the team by beginning to play other positions as well.
“She is working her way to the mix,” said Coach Gabriel Bolton. “She is finding her niche with the team.”
Perhaps one of the greatest assets that Natalie brings to the team is her buoyant personality. Natalie is able to bring a very high level of enthusiasm to the team, bringing the team’s morale up no matter what the game's outcome is.
“Her loving personality provides so much positive energy for us,” said her older sister, Nicole.
Mariah McDuffy is a new addition to the team. She started her college career at Chico State; however through the encouragement of her older sister, Maryssa, she came to Stan State to try out during the offseason for the Warriors with the hope of being able to transfer over this season.
Fortunately, she did well enough that now the McDuffy sisters are reunited on the soccer field.
“When I found out that he [Coach] wanted her on the team, I couldn’t have been more happier,” said Maryssa McDuffy.
Midway through her first season, Mariah brought various dynamics to the existing team. Known to have a great personality like Natalie, off-field she is able to bring her team’s spirit up, however her mentality on the field has began to attract notice.
“She becomes a beast when she is in the game,” said Bolton. “She completely dominates that midfield.”
"Not only has she been a great friend but also a great teammate," said Maryssa Mcduffy.
Nicole Larson, a three-year starter, has been a huge source of guidance for her teammates.
Having her sister join her on the team these last few years has been fun for her, and the feeling has been reciprocated by Natalie.
“It is my favorite sport and I get to play it with my best friend in my sister,” said Natalie Larson. “These are two things that I love.”
Maryssa McDuffy, who is currently going through her fourth year playing for the Warriors, has been a staple in the Warriors playground as she is able to hold multiple positions on the field.
Great at being able to pass the ball to an open teammate, McDuffy has racked up 11 assists thus far in her career at Stan State, as well as two goals to count since 2013. Her style of play is quite evident to the eyes of her sister.
“She (Maryssa) is a very fast soccer player who is great at attacking the ball,” said Mariah McDuffy.
Through it all, the leadership skills that both Nicole and Maryssa possess are just a small part of their success as collegiate athletes. Coach Bolton is proud to have these two girls out on the field each game.
“They are powerful leaders who have the respect of their teammates who in which a lot of the younger players gravitate to for help,” said Bolton.
Now, the two younger sisters are ready to make their mark at Stan State and expand their sisters' legacies.
“I hope we can make it to the postseason each season, as well as continue enjoying each game we play,” said Mariah McDuffy.