Bryce and Beth Barnes have a lot in common. They share a sport, position, an apartment and a set of parents.

But the two field hockey players from Fredericksburg, Virginia, are creating their own paths at Ball State — while still keeping their sisterly bond strong.

“I’m more outgoing and fun,” Beth said before her older sister cut in.

“I’m fun, too, but in my own way,” Bryce said.

“She’s more like the mom,” Beth said.

“She’s more like the one I have to take care of,” Bryce said. “I wouldn’t call her a child, but maybe more like a puppy.”

An unplanned coincidence

After graduating from Mountain View High School in Fredericksburg, Bryce, now a senior elementary education major, packed up her things and moved to Muncie to play field hockey.

A little less than two years later, Beth made the same move, though she said never planned on following in her sister's footsteps.

“Honestly, this was not my first place on the list because of her,” Beth said. “I liked the school, though, and they had all kinds of variety of what I wanted to study.”

Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that Beth chose Ball State — and Bryce. After all, the Barnes sisters started playing field hockey together about 10 years ago, when Bryce was in sixth grade and Beth was in fourth.

A sisterly bond

Honorary Barnes sister Jordan Dues, the Cardinals' senior goalkeeper, lives with Beth and Bryce. She said the trio really are like a family because they're always there to pick each other up.

“We have this close network with each other,” Dues said. “We’re always open with each other, which we always need on and off the field, so it gets us that extra support from being like homesick or if were having a tough day or just need that sisterly love.”

Bryce, however, has pointed out the difficulty of both living and playing with Beth.

“We don’t get a break from each other, ever, and that’s a little difficult sometimes because it’s like ‘oh my gosh, I’ve grown up with you; I’ve lived with you for too long; go away,’" Bryce said. "Then we're with each other on the field, so that can be difficult."

As far as Beth and Bryce's relationship goes, even Dues refers to the elder Barnes as "mother Bryce."

And the family atmosphere even spreads onto the field.

One big family

Both Barnes sisters said the field hockey team's culture changed drastically after last season's 2-16 finish. Bryce credited first-year head coach Christy Longacre with the turnaround that's seen the program double its win total after just six games.

“It seems like the team is really working toward a common goal, where as last year, it was really individual,” Bryce said. "This year, we’ve kind of built more of a family-centered system program — we all kind of treat each other like sisters, and Christy’s our mom.”

Longacre said she instilled a sense of family and belonging with her players that rivals Beth and Bryce's natural chemistry.

“You can’t really tell [they’re sisters], especially on the field," Longacre said. "I mean, off the field, clearly they just gravitate toward each other, and they look alike, but on the field its just one big family." 

Beth said her relationship with Bryce is tested almost every day because they're fighting for the same position.

“It’s somebody you always want to compete with,” Beth said about her sister. “Somebody you know who’s going to always have your back but always wants to be better than you at the same time. ‘Oh I've got to beat her, she’s my older sister.’ It’s always in the back of my mind going into practice.”

But even with the competition, Beth and Bryce are still teammates, roommates and, most importantly, sisters.

“We go home from practice, we talk about practice for a little bit, but then put it aside and talk about whatever sisters normally talk about,” Beth said.