Competition That Hits Close to Home

Westfield seniors Jennifer Wisniewski, left, and her twin sister, Stephanie, will go face-to-face when they compete at Radford in the fall.
Westfield seniors Jennifer Wisniewski, left, and her twin sister, Stephanie, will go face-to-face when they compete at Radford in the fall. (Photos By Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)
By Stephen A. Norris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fed up with the debates between her twin daughters as to which was a better goalie on their field hockey team, Leeza Wisniewski decided that once they got their driver's licenses they would play on separate teams.

Wisniewski's attempt to break up the sibling rivalry fell short. After all, the rivalry had gone on since the two played youth league soccer and by their senior year in high school they were splitting time on the Westfield varsity field hockey team.

"I drew the line and said this rivalry over the same position is too much," Leeza Wisniewski said.

The rivalry finally paid dividends earlier this month when Jennifer and Stephanie accepted scholarship offers to play Division I field hockey at Radford. This came four months after they provided the defensive backbone for Westfield's Northern Region championship team and first trip to the state tournament.

"We try and show each other up all the time, but in the end it's made us both better," Stephanie Wisniewski said.

The twins -- both 5 feet 6 -- try to one-up each other on everything they do. In school, they are on the student government board -- "I'm a chairman and she is just in my committee," Stephanie said.

When a newspaper story mentioned Jennifer prominently, she made sure her sister didn't soon forget.

"I posted it on the school bulletin board, in my binder -- all over the place," Jennifer said, much to the annoyance of Stephanie.

For all the similarities the two have, their styles of play are nothing alike. Jennifer is the flashy one on the field, venturing as far from the goal box as allowed, slide tackling and displaying a willingness to dive.

Stephanie sits back in the goal and thrives on stopping aerial shots and is just as tough to score on. The two combined for 24 shutouts in the last two seasons for Westfield. The twins said at least one of their coaches (they play on three club teams) uses their different styles to confuse opponents.

"The other team will tell each other, 'Oh the goalie comes up so if you just pass around her we can score,' " Jennifer said. "The coach will notice they figured out how to play around me so he will switch Steph in since she plays farther back. It's two different styles and the teams get really confused."

More than 10 years before the twins were shutting down high school opponents they were used as props for their older brother, Mike, who wanted to practice his roller and ice hockey skills. Mike needed goalies against whom to practice shooting, so he would tape couch cushions to Jennifer and Stephanie to use as padding. The girls also would take part in neighborhood games in which Mike would play in one goal and the twins would man the other goal, together.

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