Making it a family affair

Robert Burkett / Washburn Review

Throughout life, people grow up and relationships change. Some relationships though, withstand the forces of time. For a few athletes at Washburn, such is the case.

As one of the more profound experiences of life, growing up in a family with brothers and sisters is part of what can shape a person. Rarely then, is the chance to continue that relationship into college years.

In the case of Ty Lewis, senior football player and his brother Xavier, sophomore baseball player, there wasn’t a conscious effort to bring the two back together.

“Well I was recruited out here and then when Xavier became a senior in high school I showed [baseball head coach Steve] Anson some of what my brother was all about and he kinda came out here,” said Ty Lewis.

Upon his arrival at Washburn, Xavier, who lived in the dorms at Washburn during his first years, spent more time at his brother’s house initially.

“Having Ty here made things a lot easier for me,” said Xavier Lewis. “I spent a lot of time my first year at his place hanging out since I didn’t really know anyone yet.”

The adjustment to college in some cases is less of a struggle for some other athletes. In the case of Sami McHenry, freshman volleyball player coming to Washburn was an easy choice for her due in part to her family connection to the University. McHenry’s father, Ron is the head coach of the Lady Blue’s basketball team. For McHenry though every volleyball game and practice is time spent with her sister, Dani (McHenry) Schmidt, assistant volleyball coach.

“We have a great bond,” said Sami McHenry. “We’ve always been pretty close.”

Dani demonstrated athletic-excellence as a two-sport athlete at Washburn when she played for the Lady Blues basketball and volleyball teams. The athletic experience allows Sami to relate to her sister.

“[Dani] has always been a great athlete so I’ve always tried to take what she says because she is just trying to make me better,” said Sami McHenry.

Being in the relationship of coach and player though is one thing that they make a point of keeping on the court.

“We try to keep it two separate worlds when we get together outside of practice,” said Dani Schmidt. “My dad and I had to work around this situation when I played with him here so I kind of know how to work through this.”

Along with being in a sibling relationship, come the natural competitiveness that is part of being close in age and athletes. In the case of Jake Iverson, senior football player and his brother Payton, sophomore football player their friendship and competition goes back to high school where they wrestled and played football together as well. Now that they are in college together they play different positions and compete together but that hasn’t changed their competitive drive.

“We do stuff like friendly competition in the weight room,” said Jake Iverson. “[Payton]’s the man in the weight room, though.”

In the case of the Iversons, the two brother’s bond is something that influenced Payton in his choice of college.

“Having Jake here was certainly an aspect to the choice to come to Washburn,” said Payton Iverson. “Having him here made the move to Washburn easier for me.”

In fact the two are roommates which allows them to keep close even despite busy academic and athletics schedules.

Sometimes though, siblings can be close and yet lead separate lives at Washburn. For Lindsey Himpel, sophomore outfielder on the softball team, and her sister Lauren, a freshman outfielder, their choice of school was for similar and yet different reasons.

“With our mom having graduated from Washburn, it was kind of a natural progression for me,” said Lindsey Himpel.

While Lindsey chose Washburn due to family connection, Lauren came to the same school but for different reasons.

“I looked all around, wanting to go somewhere else besides Washburn, but the program here for [physical therapy] is a good one so I ended up here,” said Lauren Himpel.

Outside of their time on the softball diamond, the Himpel sisters who have grown accustomed to playing together spend a great deal of time in their own separate pursuits.

“We don’t really think about [playing together] that much anymore,” said Lauren Himpel. “We spend time with different friends and stuff, I mean we still talk and stuff but we live apart to.”

No matter what sport or what kind of relationship a sibling has with their brother or sister one thing is sure, there is a family thread that runs through Washburn and continues to help carry forward the legacy of Washburn athletics.

“It’s just one of those things where having your best friend close is just something you can’t really replace,” said Xavier Lewis.