Bas­ket­ball a fam­ily tra­di­tion for Bauer sis­ters

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY OLIVIA PHELPS

As the Wis­con­sin–green Bay women’s bas­ket­ball team watched the NCAA se­lec­tion show Mon­day evening, the Phoenix erupted in ap­plause not once, but twice.

Green Bay ju­nior for­ward Ly­dia Bauer’s younger sis­ter, Au­drey, is a sopho­more for­ward for Navy, giv­ing each of them a pair of root­ing in­ter­ests as the NCAA tour­na­ment be­gins this week­end.

“My team knows that my sis­ter plays for Navy,” Ly­dia Bauer said. “We sup­port Navy, and Navy sup­ports us. When we saw Navy up on the screen [dur­ing the se­lec­tion show], my whole team started clap­ping.”

Cheer­ing for each other is noth­ing new for the sis­ters from Lake Zurich, Ill., who have been teammates the ma­jor­ity of their ath­letic ca­reers. The girls learned how to play while spend­ing count­less hours re­bound­ing each other’s shots, and with a mother who coached high school bas­ket­ball, the gym be­came a sec­ond home.

“Me and my sis­ter, and even my lit­tle brother, would go to prac­tice with [our mom] af­ter school,” said Au­drey, the younger sis­ter by 17 months. “We kind of grew up in the gym.”

Their mother, Rachel Bauer, played bas­ket­ball for Wis­con­sin–mil­wau­kee, and their fa­ther, An­drew, ran cross-coun­try for Wi­nona State. As the daugh­ters of two col­lege ath­letes, the girls played a num­ber of sports grow­ing up, but bas­ket­ball stood out for both.

“I knew that they en­joyed play­ing bas­ket­ball,” said their mother. “It wasn’t re­ally forced on them, they just al­ways had an op­por­tu­nity.”

Sports were a fam­ily ef­fort in the Bauer house­hold, and when the girls were in the

fifth and fourth grade, re­spec­tively, their fa­ther coached them to a con­fer­ence tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship — a day Ly­dia re­calls as one of her fond­est mem­o­ries shar­ing the game with her fam­ily.

“[Our dad] had a very unique ap­proach to coach­ing us and just get­ting us mo­ti­vated be­fore games,” she said. “It was never a lot of X’s and O’s talk, it was more about go­ing out there and hav­ing fun.”

With bas­ket­ball as a com­mon ground, the sis­ters still en­joy postgame talks with their par­ents and younger brother, Jerry, who plays var­sity bas­ket­ball at their alma mater, Lake Zurich High School. The strong sup­port sys­tem gave the girls con­fi­dence and shaped them into Di­vi­sion I ath­letes, even­tu­ally lead­ing Ly­dia to Green Bay and Au­drey to Navy.

“I had them both for four years, and the first thing I would tell you is that they’re very dif­fer­ent,” said Christopher Ben­nett, the Bauers’ for­mer high school bas­ket­ball coach. “Ly­dia is very much the quiet, game-face com­peti­tor, very se­ri­ous. And Au­drey [is] a lit­tle bit more happy-go-lucky — al­ways smil­ing; noth­ing ever gets her down.”

Though Au­drey is the more care­free of the two, the younger sis­ter was drawn to Navy’s aca­demic rigor and the op­por­tu­nity to serve in the mil­i­tary.

“I was just re­ally im­pressed with the kind of peo­ple that are as­so­ci­ated with [the] academy and I wanted to be a part of that,” Au­drey said. “I couldn’t bring my­self to pass up the op­por­tu­nity to come” to Navy.

Ly­dia, on the other hand, was in­ter­ested in Green Bay’s his­tory of suc­cess as a bas­ket­ball pro­gram.

De­spite their schools’ dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, the girls were de­ter­mined to watch each other play as much as pos­si­ble, and thanks to the In­ter­net, they have fans watch­ing live ac­tion from hun­dreds of miles away.

“There are some times where I’ve had my lap­top and my desk­top on and [I] watch them play at the same time,” their mother said.

Last March, the Bauers had the op­por­tu­nity to watch the games of a life­time as both daugh­ters played in the NCAA tour­na­ment.

Ly­dia made her first NCAA ap­pear­ance the pre­vi­ous sea­son, when Green Bay got an at-large bid — in­spir­ing Au­drey, who was a high school se­nior at the time. Last spring, Au­drey joined her sis­ter as Navy made its NCAA tour­na­ment de­but. This year, for the sec­ond time, both sis­ters saw their schools’ names flash across the screen dur­ing the se­lec­tion show.

Pa­triot League cham­pion Navy (1813), the 15th seed in the Raleigh re­gion, will play No. 2 seed Mary­land on Satur­day at 11:15 a.m. in Col­lege Park. Green Bay (30-1), seeded No. 7 in the Kingston re­gion, will play Iowa State on Satur­day at 5:30 p.m. in Ames, Iowa.

Un­like last year, when cir­cum­stances kept the Bauers at home to watch the games on­line and on tele­vi­sion, the girls this year will have at least one fam­ily mem­ber in the stands. The sis­ters’ fa­ther will fly to Mary­land to watch Au­drey face the Ter­rap­ins, and the girls’ mother and brother will drive to Iowa for Ly­dia’s evening tipoff.

While both sis­ters are de­ter­mined to take their teams as deep into the tour­na­ment as pos­si­ble, even as po­ten­tial com­peti­tors, they con­tinue to root for each other’s suc­cess.

“I def­i­nitely still cheer for her and her team,” Au­drey said. “If we end up match­ing up, I think at that point I’d have to stop cheer­ing for her. But un­til then, she’s got my sup­port.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH PRO­VIDED BY NAVY ATH­LET­ICS

Au­drey Bauer cuts down the net af­ter the Naval Academy won the 2012 Pa­triot League cham­pi­onship. Her sis­ter, Ly­dia (left), plays for Wis­con­sin-green Bay.

Ly­dia Bauer

PHO­TO­GRAPH PRO­VIDED BY THE BAUER FAM­ILY

Ly­dia Bauer holds a tro­phy and her sis­ter, Au­drey, holds a plaque af­ter win­ning a tour­na­ment with their grade-school team at St. John’s Lutheran School in Lib­er­tyville, Ill., coached by their dad, An­drew Bauer.

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