Las Cruces, NM — New Mexico State middle infielders Brennalyn and Haley Nakamura grew up playing the softball together and now find themselves supporting each other at the collegiate level.
Younger sister, Haley signed with NM State during the early signing period in November 2012 and shortly after committing, head coach Kathy Rodolph found her sister, Brennalyn after who was playing at College of Southern Nevada.
“I think Haley looks up to Brennalyn since she is a year older,” Rodolph said. “They both have high expectations and are quick to tell each other to get after it if they miss a ball or aren’t going as hard as they think the other one should.”
Coming from Lahaina, Hawaii, the two sisters recognize the difference in collegiate athletes in Las Cruces, N.M. compared to their hometown.
“Back home the competition isn’t too intense. There aren’t a lot of elite softball players, so fighting for a spot isn’t necessary,” Brennalyn said. “Here, there are a lot of people with great skill and athleticism making the atmosphere much more competitive.”
“You’re competing every minute to get to the top spot because the next person is trying to beat you as well,” Haley described. “There are no breaks. Every day brings aggression and a want to be the best.”
Although the competition is strong against other members of the team for Brennalyn and Haley, competing against each other is not a priority.
“Our competition is mostly during weights,” Haley said. “Brennalyn is much stronger than I am which pushes me to keep up with her and get better each day.”
Rodolph explained the girls both play middle infield, with Brennalyn growing up playing second whereas Haley grew up playing shortstop. “They are both very specific and very different positions which doesn’t bring much rivalry between the two,” Rodolph said.
Being so far from home, both Brennalyn and Haley agree that having someone on the field that already knows your strengths and weaknesses is comforting. There is an automatic understanding that the sisters share.
Coach Rodolph has coached three pairs of sisters before Brennalyn and Haley and explained that there is always reservations to having sisters come in and play.
“It’s always a roll of the dice, but I liked the fact that they played middle infield together for four years,” Rodolph said. “We were going to be a brand new middle anyway after having two senior graduate last year, so bringing in sisters who have played together forever was a bonus.”
Having a sister on the team has its merits and barriers but the two sisters, demonstrate the best aspects of teamwork and sisterhood that bring something special to the NM State Aggies. The Aggies are currently in fall workouts with includes fine tuning specific skills, weight lifting and conditioning.