2012-03-23 / Sports

Sister Act

Four sets of siblings make Ben Lippen girls’ soccer a real family affair
By Michael Parks

Ben Lippen girls’ soccer team’s four sets of sisters (l-r): Front-Brittany and Carolyn Wilund, and Hailey and Shelby Green; Back-Jenny and Jessie Ellis, and Leah and Hannah Austin. 
Photo by Jim Marczesky Ben Lippen girls’ soccer team’s four sets of sisters (l-r): Front-Brittany and Carolyn Wilund, and Hailey and Shelby Green; Back-Jenny and Jessie Ellis, and Leah and Hannah Austin. Photo by Jim Marczesky The Ben Lippen varsity girls’ soccer team is off to a historic 2012 season for three principle reasons. The Falcons have produced a 6- 2 overall and 2- 1 region record, their best start in recent memory. Secondly, a husband and wife duo of George and Wendy Knox are at the helm of the squad as the team’s first year head coaches, and thirdly, and perhaps most unique, is the arrangement of four ( yes, four) pairs of sisters on the roster.

George and Wendy Knox have been mainstays in the Ben Lippen soccer program throughout the last few years being involved in coaching the JV boys’ and girls’ teams. The soccer enthusiast couple elevated to the varsity level this year, inheriting an abundance of established talent and new sisterhood.

The Lady Falcons welcomed two pairs of newcomer sisters to the squad this year, the Greene and Ellis girls, and Carolyn Wilund, who is younger sister of senior standout Brittany Wilund.

Hailey Greene and younger sister Shelby represent one of the two pairs of newcomer sisters, and interestingly represent two opposite sides of the soccer spectrum as Hailey plays forward, and Shelby plays defense. The sister duo transferred to Ben Lippen from Chapin High School.

Hailey, a senior at Ben Lippen, played varsity soccer at Chapin, while Shelby, a freshman, never played school soccer until this year, but she is a four-year veteran of the South Carolina United soccer club. Both girls have played soccer since early elementary school, but ironically, have never played together on a team due to their threeyear age gap.

Combined, the Greene girls have contributed a total of six goals so far, five coming from Hailey, and one from Shelby. On the field, the Greene girls can be easily mistaken for each other because of their nearly identical tint of blond hair.

Hannah and Leah Austin are the one and only pair of sisters who played on last year’s team and are a critical part of the Lady Falcons’ midfield and defense. The sisters have been at Ben Lippen for five years now, this year marking the third season they have played together. Hannah, the older of the two, and a senior at Ben Lippen, has played soccer for seven years, and is the root of the Falcons’ defensive line, but does have one goal under her belt.

Leah, who is a sophomore, has played nine years of soccer, two more than her older sister, and specializes in the midfield position. She has placed two shots in the back of the net so far this season. The twosome also played interchangeable roles on the girls’ varsity basketball team this season at Ben Lippen.

Ben Lippen senior captain Brittany Wilund’s younger sister, Carolyn, who is a freshman, joined the Lady Falcons’ team this season for her 10th year of soccer after finishing middle school at Heritage Christian Academy in Lexington. The two girls have a combined total of 14 years of club soccer through South Carolina United.

The Wilund girls, like the Greene sisters, despite sharing a mutual love for soccer, have never played together until this season. Brittany, who leads the Lady Falcons in scoring with 18 goals, assisted younger sister Carolyn with her first goal on the varsity level in the team’s SCISA opener versus Augusta Christian. Both girls have played since age four and attribute part of their success to developing early skills by playing on all-boy YMCA soccer teams.

Jenny and younger sister Jessie Ellis are the fourth and final set of Lady Falcon sisters. The Ellis sisterhood, much like that of the Greene and Wilund girls, is marked by this being their first time playing together on an organized team. The two girls returned with their parents to the United States just this year after a term of three years doing missionary work in Germany. The girls attended Black Forrest Academy, which is a private, culturally diverse Christian school in Germany for nearly 300 children of missionary families. Both Jenny and Jessie attribute their soccer skill from playing for a travelling club team in Germany while in residency.

Only two academic years separate the girls, as Jenny is a junior, while Jessie is a freshman. On the pitch, the Ellis girls are virtually indistinguishable, as they play interchangeable positions in the midfield and are equally adept. The Ellis duo have combined for a total of eight goals so far this season, four goals coming from each girl. Unfortunately for the Lady Falcons, the Ellis family will be returning to their field of missions in Germany at the conclusion of this academic year, but both Jenny and Jessie stated they plan to continue playing soccer (or should I say futball?) for their school and club teams.

Coach George Knox enjoys coaching the four sets of sisters and recognizes the team’s uniqueness. Knox offered, “In all my years of coaching and playing soccer, I have never seen a team quite like this one. All of the girls bring a unique and individual effort to the field every day, surprisingly never gotten fussy with each other, and enjoy the sisterhood shared among their siblings and other teammates.”

The Lady Falcons will continue the pursuit of a regular season SCISA championship with perhaps the most unique set of players the league has ever seen. Knox is hopeful this year’s season will be remembered for the team’s abundance of sisterhood as well as a SCISA soccer championship. A positive indication of Knox’s aspirations being fulfilled is that each of the team’s eight sisters have scored thus far.

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