Oologah girl following in older sisters’ footsteps on the volleyball court
When it comes to competitive sports, its not uncommon for team members to grow close, so close, in fact, that they sometimes feel like a family.
For two of the Oologah Mustang Volleyball players, however, that feeling extends well beyond the court and the competitions and into real life as they’ve had a lifetime to get to know one another as sisters.
Gracie and Libby Thoenen will be returning to the volleyball court this year as seniors, as key team members, but also – and as they have always been – twin sisters.
Fraternal twins, the girls are both 17 years old, although Libby points out that she’s technically 21 minutes older than Gracie. The girls have had years of playing together on and off the court, during which, they’ve perfected the their own form of non-verbal communication.
“We both started in volleyball at the same time – when we were in seventh grade. Having played together for so many years and being sisters, we really know each other well,” Gracie said. “Each of us kind of know what the other is going to do when we’re playing – I can read her body language, and she can read my body language. It really helps us when we’re playing (volleyball).”
On the team, the sisters play different positions -- Gracie is a setter and Libby is an outside hitter – but both share a love of the sport.
“I like that it’s a team sport, and I’m really close to all my teammates – they’re really great,” Gracie said. “I really enjoy the competitiveness, too.”
“You make a lot of friends in volleyball – it’s kind of like a family,” Libby said.
Even though the upcoming school year will be the last for Gracie and Libby to play volleyball in high school, it won’t be the last year that a Thoenen serves up the hits on the court, as younger sister, Kensey also is following in her older sisters’ footsteps.
“I’ve played club (volleyball) since fourth-grade, and I’m heading into eighth-grade,” said Kensey, 13. “Club can be a little more competitive since you play against teams all around.”
As the youngest sister, Kensey said she’s long received advice from her older siblings, especially when she first started playing volleyball.
“They gave me a lot of advice, most of it was good,” Kensey laughed. “They were good to help me after practice – to work with me on my serving and my passing. Watching them play (volleyball) kind of inspired me to play it as well. I’ll probably keep playing through high school, like them.”
Despite their encouragement of their youngest sister, Gracie and Libby admitted a “healthy competitiveness” between the siblings.
“We’re competitive, but it’s a good kind of competitive in that we all push each other to do better, to do more than maybe what we’re comfortable with,” Gracie said. “It’s the kind of competitive that makes us all better.”
After high school, the girls both plan to attend college at the University of Central Oklahoma, with Gracie planning to study forensics or law enforcement, and Libby planning to study digital forensics, but until then, the pair have their minds set on the year directly ahead of them, especially their first scrimmage which will be next week.
“I think we’re going to have a very strong team this year,” Gracie said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
The Thoenen girls are the daughters of Janet and Chad Thoenen of Oologah.