A common buzzword for coaches describing their team is family. A team whose members have each other’s backs through thick and thin. It’s what helps build trust and chemistry, two key factors for a successful team. From over 100 football players to the almost dozen tennis players for men’s and women’s, brother/sisterhood is a crucial element to every team.
Of course, some players have their real families close by to cheer them on, and others’ are far away. However, some athletes also have family with them on the playing field.
Within Nebraska sports, there are five sets of twins along with five more sets of siblings. Some are well known around campus, most notably Carlos and Khalil Davis from the football team. There are also twins who aren’t as well known, like Connor and Corbin Ruth who are also on the football team. Then, there are twins who have more family with them, like Erika and Mark Freyhof from cross country and track who have their younger sister Audrey with them on the team. However, the last two sets of twins are the most unknown, mainly because they are new additions to the Husker family.
The first set of true freshmen twins are looking to make a name for themselves on the tennis court. Chloe and Ellie Kuckelman are from Overland Park, Kansas, and have been playing tennis since they were four years old.
“It all started on one summer day,” Ellie said in an interview. “We were hitting tennis balls against our neighbor’s garage door with some friends. Their mom came out and told our mom she should put us in some lessons. Our mom did just that and we have been playing ever since. As twins, we do everything together so of course we had to do the same sport.”
Chloe and Ellie were a part of a three-time state championship team at Blue Valley North High School. The two dominated in singles and were some of the top players in the state of Kansas their senior year. The two even played each other in the state finals their junior and senior year, splitting the matches.
With a stellar run like that, the twins wanted to continue in college, and even with a competitive list of schools to pick from, the two chose Nebraska.
“We just absolutely fell in love with the coaches and the players and the incredible amount of kindness and commitment that they displayed,” Chloe said. “We instantly felt welcomed and loved how supportive the entire community was of Nebraska athletics. It felt like a family and we could tell the school puts great emphasis on student athletes’ academic and athletic well-being.”
Chloe and Ellie enjoy playing with each other as well as against each other.
“There is always someone to practice with,” Chloe said. “We can always make each other better. We are very competitive on the court but I think that has made us better over the years because we are always trying to improve and be better than the other in some way. ”
The twins also see tennis as something that brings them closer together.
“Being a twin is really an indescribable relationship,“ Ellie said. “We are like each other’s other half. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and although we fight, we are each other’s best friend and at the end of the day, we’re on the same team. It helped us grow closer by playing a sport together and learning to become each others own cheerleader.”
The twins are also recently coming off a strong performance at the Clay Court Classic taking second in doubles.
With Chloe and Ellie already making a name for themselves in tennis, the other set of true freshmen twins are slowly making their mark in cross country and track.
For Jade and Jaylyn Hallgrimson, who are apart of the women’s cross country and track and field teams, running is everything.
“We started running in 3rd grade,” Jade said in an interview. “Our school started a track club and we loved it and have been running ever since.”
For Jade and Jaylyn, neither one would be where they were without the other.
“When it comes to competing it is super nice to have someone so similar to you push you in meets,” Jaylyn said. “Also when practicing and training on your own, it is always nice to have that built in training partner.”
The twins grew up in Billings, Montana, where both runners finished in the top 35 at the state cross country meet for Billings Senior High School in all four seasons. The team finished in the top three at state all four years as well. For track and field, the twins qualified for state their sophomore and junior years. They competed in the 800-meter, 1600-meter and 3200-meter races, making finals in two of the three events both years. Jaylyn’s highest finish was ninth in the 800-meter race her junior year. Jade’s highest was 14th in the 1600-meter race also in her junior year. When it came to their senior year however, the twins decided to take their last season of track and field off so they could focus on the next level.
For the next level, the twins had multiple offers, but after some time discussing it, they finally settled on Nebraska.
“We chose Nebraska because we loved the atmosphere and the way that we are treated here as student athletes,” Jaylyn said. “We also loved the programs here and viewed it as the best opportunity for growth in both athletics and academics.”
The twins competed in the first two meets of the cross country season, and both are looking to improve upon their starts to their college careers.
“We enjoy the same things and spend a lot of time together,” Jade said. “We have become extremely close and running has been a huge part in that. We use each other and the knowledge that we have about our strengths and weaknesses to make ourselves better and push the other when we need it.”