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Olympic Sisters: Brooke & Emma DeBerdine

Not many parents have the opportunity to say that their daughter is going to the Olympic Games. The odds are incredibly low – which makes it even more impressive to have two daughters heading to the same global event.

This past June, sisters Brooke and Emma DeBerdine were named to the U.S. Olympic Women’s Field Hockey Team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. It is a life-time achievement for the two, only made sweeter by the fact that they will be donning the red, white, and blue together in Paris later this month.

“It’s hard to find the words to be able to describe the feeling of seeing both of our names next to each other when we were selected,” said Brooke, who is the older of the duo by two years. “I was first extremely honored to be named to the team. The commitment of the 28 women and staff who have given so much to this lead up is so commendable and I am so grateful I get to spend my days with this group.”

“I also was extremely proud of my sister. She had to make a decision to forego college for the season and commit to the lead up to Paris and to see her hard work pay off and be selected, was a wonderful big sister moment.”

Emma, two years behind in age but not missing a beat, gives some credit to her sister for helping make this dream a reality.

“It is a dream come true and an honor to be named to the Olympic team alongside my sister,” said Emma. “I don’t think I would be here today if it wasn’t for her, so the fact that we get to do this together is unbelievably special.”

Brooke and Emma’s field hockey careers have been intertwined for as long as they can remember, traversing youth teams, college, and the U.S. Women’s National Team together. Their family, which includes brother Nathan, grew up in Millersville, Pa., where they both attended Penn Manor High School.

In some ways, they may be here today because they are sisters. There is a special kind of fiercely competitive fire that thrives off the kindle of sibling rivalry, which Brooke and Emma were no strangers to growing up.

“We grew up in a very competitive household, so we were always competing with one another,” said Emma. “We definitely pushed each other to be better, since we were always trying to be better than the other.”

“I remember before each high school practice one year our coach had us sprint the perimeter of the field and we would be pushing each other for the inside lane to win the race,” added Brooke. “I do believe this competitiveness brought out a drive in us and definitely helped us get to where we are today.”

The pair’s relationship grew as the two got older, as college offered them experiences both on their own and together in a new setting. Brooke went off to college first, choosing to attend the University of Maryland, where she finally had a few years to come into her own without her sister around. Following in her footsteps, Emma also became a Terrapin, then had the opportunity after Brooke’s graduation to take on some leadership roles. But the time that they overlapped holds memories that they will treasure forever.

“Once we got to college, we started to really become friends and I remember thinking ‘she’s not too bad after all’,” said Brooke. “We had our own lives outside of hockey but saw each other every day at training. After my first two years there alone, it was so nice having Emma there again and it was special helping her through the freshman challenges that we all have. I think developing this maturity and seeing each other in a different environment outside of the family, showed us how influential we can be in each other’s lives.”

“In college, Brooke and I really became friends and started to enjoy being around each other both on and off the field,” added Emma. “She was a huge role model for me at Maryland, as a leader on the team and as a student.”

“I remember Emma being shy in the beginning of freshman year at Maryland and every day pre-season we would get to the field and it would be pretty early and I would say across the locker room ‘good morning, sister Emma’. I really look back on these moments and will cherish them forever,” commented Brooke.

Maryland Athletics

Now, the two play together on the USWNT. It has been a journey, but the sisters have found a comfortable stride together.

“I think in all phases of playing together, high school, college, and the national team, I am there for Emma in the beginning and helping her get comfortable like any older player would do for a newcomer, but each phase Emma has quickly found the reigns herself and excelled,” said Brooke. “On the national team, we truly are just teammates that share a lot of special moments together. We are there for each other through the challenges of being a professional athlete in a compassionate way but also provide tough love when we need it.”

“Brooke has been there with me through every big transition in my life, from transitioning from high school to college and from college to moving to Charlotte to train full time with the USWNT,” said Emma. “She has made every transition easier for me along the way and I cannot be more grateful for that. Playing together for the USWNT has helped us learn to separate teammates and sister, but we always find ways to have sister time whether we’re on tour or in Charlotte.” 

The two sisters share a lot of similarities when it comes to their field hockey path, Olympic aspirations, and even their playing styles. When it comes to their biggest difference, there isn’t much – just a few inches, but it depends on who you ask.

“There’s not much [different] ... she does have an extra inch of height on me,” Brooke said of her younger sister.

Emma had the same response when asked about their biggest difference, only slightly different. “I’m two inches taller than Brooke.”

Learn more about Brooke, Emma, and the Olympic Team here.