Nov. 6, 2012
It is always a boost to have the support of the home crowd. It is even bigger boost to have the support of family. Stephanie McCaffrey and James McCaffrey know they have both for all their home games at Boston College.
Stephanie, a sophomore forward on the women's soccer team, and James, a sophomore defensive back on the football team, have been there for each other on and off the field their whole lives. Separated by two years, the McCaffreys are now in the same grade after James red-shirted his freshman year as an Eagle.
Stephanie says that being in the same grade has only made them closer as they share the same friends at school. It is not a big deal for James to have his little sister in the same grade either, because he is used to her being around since "she has always been the superstar of our family."
The siblings, who grew up in Winchester, Mass., spent their childhoods outside playing all sorts of different sports. Until they became teenagers, James remembers, Stephanie would beat him and his friends at everything from wiffleball to basketball.
Their time outside playing helped them become better as two Division I athletes in the same family does not happen accidently. James sees the success he and his sister are having at the highest level of college sports as a direct product of how hard they both worked and the emphasis their family always put on sports.
It is not just the support that they get from each other that drives them, but also their extended family. Home soccer games and football games are a sort of family reunion, according to James, who also said that he and his sister both picked BC because it allowed their relatives to continue to watch them play. In fact, the McCaffrey parents have been known to fly to a soccer game on Thursday, then back to Boston for a home football game Saturday, only to hit the road again on Sunday for another soccer game.
If James and Stephanie were both playing in a championship game though, they agreed without hesitation where their parents would be: at the other one's game.
"They would go to football," Stephanie said. "I can't blame them. My family has always been a football family."
"They are going to her game, for sure," James said. "Ever since we were little, she's the better athlete in the family."
One thing they do actually agree on is that the women's soccer team's victory over top-ranked and undefeated Florida State earlier this season was a highlight of the fall. Stephanie had a goal and an assist in the game and according to her brother, who was in attendance, played extremely well. Stephanie was named co-ACC Player of the Week following the game. Stephanie saw the win as a sign of what her team can do.
"As far as a regular season game, I don't think it can get more exciting than that," Stephanie said. "If you beat the number-one team, you have the potential to win a championship. I want to play to my potential and show that if we all play the way we can, we can win."
Going to Stephanie's games, particularly on Thursday nights, is commonplace for James and a lot of his teammates. It is also a highlight for Stephanie, who says the football players bring a different intensity to the crowd.
"A lot of times it's parents and little kids in the crowd, so having the football guys there screaming and heckling the other team's goalie makes the games that much more exciting," Stephanie said.
The best part of this unique sibling experience for James was when he found out that Stephanie would be coming to join him at the Heights. For Stephanie, having James on campus has given her a sense of security. She is away from home but there is a piece of home at school with her.
At school together, they both help each other out as much as possible. Stephanie sees the little things James does for her, whether it be giving her a ride or bringing her the cleats she forgot for practice, as the defining aspect of their relationship. She is there for James too, occasionally doing his laundry, helping him with some school work, or just talking through something.
"She helps me out a lot," James said. "If I ever need anything from her, she's always there. I look at her as a role model. I have my flaws but she is all set in every aspect from my perspective."
And if she ever is feeling down, James says, he is always there to try and cheer her up and make her laugh.
Moving forward, James wants to see his sister have as much success playing soccer as possible. His hope is coming true as Stephanie was named to the All-ACC Second Team as the close of the regular season. He also hopes to see the football team grow and have the type of success his sister's team has had this year.
For Stephanie it is about more than just athletic success, as she wants to maintain the relationship she and her brother have more than anything she will accomplish on the field.
"We have a lot of fun together and we always support each other so I want that to continue that above all," Stephanie said.
Written by senior Eddie Lockhart