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Cornell field hockey team's three sets of siblings

Left to right, Cornell field hockey sisters Ann '15 and Kat DiPastina '13; Keelin '14 and Mallory Bannon '14; and Paige '13 and Shelby Mollineaux '14. Photo by Patrick Shanahan.

Synchronized siblings: Cornell team fields three sets of sisters

Ann DiPastina in action on the field

Ann DiPastina '15 in action on the field. Photo by Dave Burbank.

When Cornell field hockey head coach Donna Hornibrook recruits, she doesn't seek out siblings to fill her roster. But lately, it seems that siblings have been finding her.

The Big Red has three sets of sisters -- Keelin '14 and Mallory Bannon '14, Ann '15 and Kat DiPastina '13, and Paige '13 and Shelby Mollineaux '14. Cornell is the only field hockey team in the country to field three sets of siblings on its roster.

The accumulation of sisters began in 2011, with Ann joining big sister Kat, while Keelin transferred from American University to reunite with twin sister Mallory. This year, Shelby also transferred to Cornell, coming from Monmouth University to join Paige for her final season on East Hill.

Mallory Bannon in action on the field

Mallory Bannon '14. Photo by Dave Burbank.

While all three sets of siblings report they were close growing up, often playing on the same teams throughout their high school careers, they say attending the same university wasn't a decision that came easily. That is especially true for the Bannon sisters, who wanted very different college experiences.

"We went into the process thinking that if we both fell in love with the same school, that would be fine, but we wanted to make an independent decision," explains Mallory. "I knew that Keelin was more of a 'city person,' and I knew that I wanted a distinct community. I was happy for her when she made her decision to go to American, but I knew that Cornell was the best fit for me."

"We visited every school together, including Cornell, and on the ride out, I thought I could never, ever go to school here," says Keelin. "It just seemed so inaccessible and it was such a different environment than what I thought I wanted. I thought I'd love D.C."

But Keelin later realized she didn't love D.C. as much as she thought she would and decided to transfer to Cornell.

After two years at Monmouth, Shelby also made the decision to transfer, even though she was initially reluctant to follow Paige to Cornell, despite her older sister's urging.

Kat DiPastina in action on the field

Kat DiPastina '13. Photo by Dave Burbank.

"I didn't want to get labeled as 'Paige's sister,'" adds Shelby. "But at Monmouth, it felt like something was missing. Now that I'm here and back with Paige, I feel complete."

"It is nice having her here," says Paige. "It's like having a piece of home with me at all times."

For Keelin and Shelby, field hockey was a big part of the decision to transfer. Both already played for their respective universities and both wanted the opportunity to continue playing at Cornell. They were both offered the opportunity to try out for the Big Red and earned spots with the team.

Keelin Bannon in action on the field

Keelin Bannon '14. Photo by Dave Burbank.

"It's not unusual to get a second sister," says Hornibrook. "But you can't follow your sister unless it makes sense, academically and in terms of field hockey. We've had success because one kid has come through the program and had a good experience, so we've been able to follow up with another family member."

For Ann, the experience was much different from that of Keelin and Shelby. She was heavily recruited to play at Cornell by Hornibrook, as well as by her sister, Kat.

"I used to say, 'You're coming to Cornell,' just matter of factly," says Kat. "So my mom told me that Ann wanted to make the decision on her own. I finally just had to let her go through the recruiting process and enjoy it."

Paige Mollineaux in action on the field

Paige Mollineaux '13. Photo by Darl Zehr.

Ann, known in high school as "Little DiPastina," was hesitant at first to follow her big sister to Cornell, but after "taking Kat out of the equation," she realized that Cornell was the place for her.

Hornibrook agrees that when looking at schools, siblings should be a resource, but just a small part of the decision.

"At Cornell, we say it's not a four-year plan, it's a 40-year plan," says Hornibrook. "It's not just about your four-year field hockey experience. It's seeing the big picture -- a world-class education and networking opportunities that help prepare our student-athletes for the next phase of their lives. If you have a recruit that sees their sister benefiting from those things, it can be very attractive. And to play with a sister is a really neat opportunity. It can be a really positive experience for the sisters, and if it benefits our program, then that's just an added bonus."


Cornell Field Hockey

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