Lauren Blazing entered the fieldhouse after a long day of preseason practice, but she noticed there was something missing from her locker. Crossing the room, Lauren approached the second locker labeled “Blazing,” belonging to her sister, Robin.
“People always ask us if we’re fighting,” Lauren said. “I found out she stole some of my clothes so I snagged those back from the locker room.”
Redshirt sophomore Lauren and freshman Robin have played field hockey together for most of their lives, starting in their childhood and continuing through high school. Now, for three years, they will both be members of Duke’s field hockey team.
Although Robin is prone to borrowing her big sister’s clothes, playing with each other on the field has allowed the sisters to get to know each other in a completely different way.
“She has this goalie voice I haven’t heard before,” Robin said. “It’s crazy loud and crazy deep. It’s like, is that even my sister? And I’ll hear it on the field and do exactly what she says.”
The Blazings took similar journeys to get to Duke. Both sisters attended Durham Academy—only a 10-minute car ride from campus—and decided to become Blue Devils to stay in their hometown. Both girls will not have extremely productive freshman seasons. Lauren redshirted her first year behind All-American goalkeeper Samantha Nelson, and Robin is one of nine forwards on the Blue Devils’ depth chart. And both girls aim to take similar paths through college—Lauren has given Robin advice about school, with the sisters taking many of the same classes, resulting in some confusion from their professors.
“She took the same religion seminar that I’m taking, and I’m pretty sure my professor thought I was her,” Robin said. “After class he came up to me and was like, ‘Lauren, great to see you,’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not Lauren.’”
Lauren appeared in every game last season except for five, during which she played on the United States U21 National Team at the Junior Pan-American games. With the Blue Devils, she recorded 51 saves, which was good for fifth in the ACC, and a shutout.
After playing at the Junior World Cup this summer, Duke head coach Pam Bustin said Blazing is on the cusp of having a breakout season in 2013.
“[Lauren] has really exploded into this force of a goalkeeper,” Bustin said. “She is so quick and strong, and you add that to her intelligence about the game, and she’s going to keep growing into quite a goalkeeper.”
Robin, meanwhile, continues to discover her role as a Blue Devil. A third-team All-American in high school, she has been using preseason to adjust to the intensity of college athletics.
“It’s been a little challenging as a freshman because your skills aren’t as good and you aren’t used to being on this team,” she said. “I think as a freshman I play a role, but I would like to play a bigger role… I want to be contributing on the field as one of the main players.”
Duke boasts seven seniors on its roster, including forwards Emmie Le Marchand, and McKay Ross and also has one graduate student, forward Cherry Seaborn. Le Marchand led the Blue Devils in goals, shots, and shots on goal last season.
But Lauren has been helping Robin the most, using her experience to guide her little sister into her first collegiate season.
“She’s so encouraging, and she has helped me a lot,” says Robin. “After being through three preseasons, she knows what to do. If I have any questions I can go to her.”
But both sisters, at the end of the day, have benefited from having family on and off the field.
“You have your teammates, and they’re your best friends,” Lauren said. “But having your sister there, we can support each other and also have these special family moments.”