Almost every high school sports team will say they are a family.
Some even have family members, creating a family environment within the team.
The Parkside girls lacrosse team said it is a family, but add in the sibling factor and it almost is true instead of just another sports cliche. With the right substitutions, half of the Parkside team on the field could be made up by sets of siblings.
Alivia and Abby Roskovich, Alexis and Kelsey Nock and Alyssa and Julie Venere are the Rams’ three sets of sisters playing on varsity, and it only enhances the family-like feeling surrounding the team, which is in the midst of plenty of new things.
The Rams (2-3) have a new coach and plenty of new players after graduation, but the same bond that led them to a 9-3 season last year remains.
“They’re very close and almost too close to the fact that they’re not afraid to call each other out on things almost like a true sister would,” first-year coach Erica Amalfitano said. “I think they feel comfortable in each other to take risks.”
Alyssa and Julie Venere never played lacrosse until high school.
Julie, a junior, always played soccer, while her younger sister played field hockey.
Lacrosse was the ideal sport to keep competitive in the spring and also get to spend more time with one another.
“It’s nice to come back to lacrosse season and to be playing together again when we can practice in the backyard,” Alyssa said. “She can be the defender and I’m the attack — it’s just fun to work on things.”
In the backyard, Alyssa and Julie normally just pass back and forth, and occasionally they’ll do one-on-one drills, which fits nicely since the sophomore is an attacker and the junior is the defender. The only thing amiss is the lacrosse net — they have to make due with a soccer one, but the time together is all-important anyway.
Their personalities are different as well, Amalfitano said. Julie is quiet and reserved and plays defense. She could be more aggressive, but using her IQ to read the plays and stop attacks works. Alyssa is playing her first year on varsity but is very vocal and has the body and potential to become a full-time starter as she grows in confidence, the coach added.
But what surprised both was the friendships they developed on this family-style team.
“I never really had interest in lacrosse until my friends encouraged me to play,” Julie said.
And that’s what keeps them going.
All it takes is eye contact and Kelsey Nock will know when her twin sister, Alexis Nock, will cut toward the net.
Kelsey flings in a pass, and it normally ends in a goal.
The two Parkside seniors are always with each other, and it shows on the lacrosse field.
“Basically, we do everything together, and always have and always will,” Kelsey said. “When she decided to play, I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it with you,’ and ever since then we stuck with it. We just push each other.”
Alexis and Kelsey started playing lacrosse in seventh grade after their older sister started, and they’ve loved the game since.
The speed and teamwork are their favorite aspects of the game, but this season will be their last playing together. Keley and Alexis are moving on to college together at Lynchburg College, but only Kelsey will try out for the D-III team, while Alexis just wants to play club.
“It’s sad but I think we need a little bit of separation,” Kelsey said.
“We’ve never been apart,” Alexis interjected.
“I think the longest is, like, a day,” Kelsey continued, smiling.
With the realization of it being their last season, the Nocks have stepped up as two of the leaders on the team with other seniors.
While Alivia Roskovich is one of the captains, Kelsey and Alexis have a different approach, Amalfitano said.
“They’re not as vocal, as aggressive as Alivia, so some of the girls feel more comfortable going to them,” Amalfitano said. “They’re quieter. They don’t yell.”
And the team needs the nurturing Nocks as much as they need vocal leader, creating a balance that brings the team together even more.
“They’re comfort zone for any young player,” Amalfitano said.
And then there are the Roskovichs, who bring high energy, bursts of giggles and loads of skill.
Alivia and Abigail Roskovich’s grandfather played lacrosse at Maryland and their father was a two-time All-American at Salisbury University. The oldest sister, Alexis, is playing lacrosse at Canisius College and was a senior at Parkside when Alivia was a freshman. Four years later, Alivia is the senior, attending the Naval Academy next fall while Abby is the freshman.
“Ever since we were little, we were brought up playing lacrosse,” Alivia said. “My sister was born with a fiddlestick in her hand and she still has it. It’s kind of like lacrosse, we were born … we went to lacrosse games. We didn’t watch football.”
The skill and confidence shows on the field from playing so long, Amalfitano said. The two work together in rhythm in either defense or midfield, sliding together to allow double teams and protect the goal.
They’re both so ultra-competitive that they can’t do the groundball drill against one another or they’ll “destroy somebody’s bones,” Alivia said.
And it’s no different in the backyard when Alivia and her dad team up against Alexis and Abby. Alivia said she always wins, but Abby responded that she and Alexis play more fair.
The family-fun attitude is what the Roskovichs bring to the Rams. But when they slap their heels and do the handshake, “it just means take care of business,” Alivia said.
And the Roskovichs normally do, but what they said means most about playing lacrosse isn’t competing against each other, but playing with the team as a whole.
A team that has grown up playing lacrosse and other sports together.
“I think it kind of just brings the family aspect to our team,” Alivia said. “We have three sets of sisters, but everyone on our team is family.”
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