JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (October 11, 2004) - Ask any soccer player at East Tennessee State University to describe their team and you are almost sure to hear them liken it to a family at some point in their response. For sophomore Rebecca Murray (Franklin, Tenn.) and freshman Amanda Sheaffer (Alexandria, Va.), the definition of soccer being like a family takes on a stronger meaning not only because they are roommates this season, but also because both ladies have sisters who played collegiate soccer and fathers that coach soccer.
Both girls experienced a similar start in the sport that they would grow to love, with the influence of their sisters and fathers right in front of their eyes.
"My sister and dad would practice at our house and I would just go out and play with them," said Murray. "Finally, my parents put me into recreational soccer. I would also travel with my sister to her games and just fell into soccer that way."
Rebecca Murray's sister Kimberly is five years older than her and played for the University of South Carolina, where she was an integral part of their defense.
"My sister inspires me because of just about everything about her," Murray stated. "She doesn't give in to what people say. When she plays on the field she always gives 100%. I guess I just always wanted to be like her. When I went to her games I wanted to play like her and give everything that I had."
For Sheaffer, the experience was much the same. She began playing at the age of four on coed club teams watching her sisters play on the team her dad coached.
"When my sisters played in middle school, high school, and college I was always their ball girl and I was so excited," commented Sheaffer. "It was big for me to see them play at different levels."
Sheaffer's the youngest of three. She has two older sisters; Kati, who is ten years older and played at Charleston Southern University, and Carey, who is eight years older and played right here at ETSU.
"They both definitely influenced my decision to play," said Sheaffer of her sisters.
When asked about her sister Carey's influence on her decision to come to ETSU Sheaffer had to say, "Carey came here when women's soccer started to become a real program. She told me that ETSU is a great school. She also told me about the great experience I would have if I played here and became involved. Coach Henson uses her a lot in examples for sweepers and it's nice to know and hope that I can live up to the expectations."
However, Sheaffer and Murray don't need to worry about being compared to their siblings by the Buccaneer coaching staff.
Head Coach Heather Henson commented on the situation, "We always understood that they weren't their sisters and that they were completely different individuals and we strive to treat them as such."
In fact both ladies comment that the similarities between them and their sisters pretty much ends on the field.
Murray said, "Except for the fact that we are both down to earth, I'm completely opposite from my sister in almost everyway imaginable."
"We all have different interests but we have similar interests too because we grew up together," stated Sheaffer. "We have different hobbies. I did theatre and Carey would just laugh and call me a thespian."
Their differences were not enough to keep them from sharing advice and helping their sisters as they prepared to play at ETSU.
"My sisters helped me with little things like work hard and never give up, as well as to have faith and confidence in yourself," said Sheaffer.
"The best thing my sister did was believing in me and that I could become something and not just follow in her footsteps was encouraging," said Murray.
So while Rebecca Murray and Amanda Scheaffer may be following in their sisters' footsteps by playing collegiate soccer, they certainly are not living in their sisters' shadows as they make a name for themselves in ETSU soccer history.