Forty minutes northwest of the city of Lincoln is Gretna, Nebraska, a town of just over 5,000 people.
This relatively small city is the hometown of Nebraska softball duo, the Andrews sisters. They have been waiting to play together for the Huskers since the two first picked up a softball.
“Growing up we always wanted to go here,” freshman infielder and younger Andrews sister Billie said. “So, when the opportunity to come to UNL came for each of us there was no question about it. I committed to Nebraska first, funny enough, but Brooke was right behind me on that.”
Billie and Brooke Andrews are one year apart and for most of their lives, have been together in school and on the softball field. But an eventual period of separation loomed. Last year, Brooke entered her first year at Nebraska while Billie began her senior year at Gretna High School.
The sisters knew things would be different, with one at college and the other finishing high school. However, the two would face a much bigger challenge come March 2020. With COVID-19 canceling classes and softball, neither Andrews sister had a proper conclusion to their year.
For Brooke, it meant that the spring portion of the softball season was cut short. This in turn left her waiting another year before her first full season at the collegiate level.
“It was my first year in college and COVID really made things different,” Brooke said. “I didn't get a full first season, no home games and no experience of playing a whole season in college or even as a student.”
Billie faced a different set of challenges, as her final season of high school softball concluded in the fall of 2019. Even though she lost some off-the-field staples of her high school experience, Billie still took positives away from her final year at Gretna.
“As a senior in high school, 2020 was hard,” Billie said. “I didn't get a graduation or prom, but softball wise, it was interesting. I suddenly had more time to spend with my team and spend with my family. Because of that, I got a lot closer with people that I was already close with in quarantine.”
Over a year after the cancellation of college athletics due to the pandemic, the two are now together again both in school and softball. For the sisters, it means another opportunity to grow closer.
“We get closer every year,” Billie said. “Last year, when Brooke was at UNL and I was back home, it drifted our relationship a little bit apart. But getting back together this year and seeing each other every day has definitely rekindled that. Playing on the same team again really helped us grow closer and get new things to bond over.”
In addition, Billie said her older sister has been a guide and mentor throughout her first year of college. With Brooke having a partial first year at Nebraska under her belt, Billie appreciated having her to lean on in order to make a solid transition from high school to college.
“I've been able to lean on her and ask her questions when I needed to,” Billie said. “It’s nice to have someone who’s with you, but knows more about the field you’re in.”
Through their time together on the field so far this year, the two have continued to strengthen their bond and they don’t see any signs of it slowing down. Each year has presented a unique set of challenges for both, and Billie says the sisters are better off because they’ve been able to adapt and work together to overcome them.
“It’s different every year,” Billie said. “Playing with Brooke in my freshman year of high school was different than playing with her sophomore year. Things were changing for us in terms of softball, switching positions and having to adapt to it. But working with Brooke at different positions is just finding new ways to bond and play together more comfortably.”
The sisters however don’t just want to play together on the softball field, they want to dominate together. During their time in high school, the Andrews sisters combined for 306 runs, 269 RBIs, 111 stolen bases and 93 home runs in 226 games.
So far at Nebraska, the two have combined for 41 hits, 32 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and six home runs. With one month left on the season and the rest of their time at Nebraska ahead of them, Billie and Brooke are excited to see what they can bring as a dynamic duo.
“It’s cool that we’re seen as a dynamic duo,” Brooke said. “We got that reputation in high school, but college is obviously a different level, so to be seen as a dynamic duo here is super cool. To know that we didn't only make an impact as a duo in high school but here as well, is awesome.”