by James Stitt
Ella and Lauren Foley’s lives have seem to run parallel to one another, they are sisters after all, who have hit the same milestones at the same time. Yet a closer look shows that the Watertown-Mayer sisters’ paths have zigzagged, intersecting at different points while getting there in different ways.
“Ella and Lauren Foley are quite the duo,” said Watertown-Mayer volleyball coach Andrea Raser. “They compliment each other in the best ways. Ella is more easy going and carefree, yet very responsible. Lauren is very much a perfectionist and her brain is always going, yet she is a prankster. They made practices so entertaining with their back and forth.”
The Foleys were seniors on last year’s section championship volleyball team at Watertown-Mayer, participating on a team that made history for the Royals, winning a match at the state tournament for the first time. The Foleys were one of three sets of sisters on that team.
“Our three sets of sisters on this team are extremely different,” Lauren Foley said. “The Olsons, they’re quiet in a way that they go back and forth with each other, but they keep it under wraps. Ella and I are going at each other . . . it’s never anything super serious, but when we go at it, everyone knows about it. The Olsons are more reserved and the Thibaults seem to be good all the time.”
The Foley sisters were known for getting their teammates to laugh with their banter.
“Lauren and I, that’s the fun thing about playing on a team together,” Ella Foley said. “This is the only sport where we had that, when were able to just mess around with each other at practice. I know I can say anything to Lauren and she can say anything to me that we won’t be offended by, because we do it all the time, so the other girls tend to laugh at that a lot.”
Their same, but different style also manifested itself on the court, where the duo played different positions that complimented each other - Ella the hitter and Lauren the setter
“When we were on the court together, I could tell Lauren, ‘you can calm down, that’s OK, that’s an alright set,’” Ella said. “I can give her critiques that I feel that other players weren’t as comfortable telling her, or I’d even tell Lauren, she needs it higher, or she needs it lower, and Lauren is really good about taking my criticism because she knows that I want whats best for her as a player. So that is one thing that I’ve really enjoyed, is that we can both tell each other with 100 percent honesty what we’re thinking in order to make a game go better.”
That goes with the fire and ice theme the sisters showcased. Lauren’s perfectionist attitude helped her work to get better, but Ella’s carefree demeanor helped Lauren be able to let things go.
“I take every single point very seriously,” Lauren Foley said. “Some things will bother me and I can’t get past them as easily, where Ella will say, ‘Oh, that’s just one play and I’m going to move on. Go on to the next play and we’ll forget about that.’”
Raser said Ella keeps Lauren on task, while Lauren helps Ella think of things she may overlook. After all, Lauren is planning on becoming a teacher, with her first student having been Ella.
“I know Lauren has always wanted to be a teacher since we were little because Lauren would always try to make me be one of her students,” Ella said. “She’s going to be a great teacher because she is just super passionate in helping students learn and seeing their progress.”
Their two different personalities helped fuel them to earn spots on such a successful volleyball team that has gone to state 3 years in a row. They agree that their time together makes them better, something that was special when together, yet felt missing when they were apart in their other sports, with Ella playing basketball and Lauren in gymnastics and softball.
“I feel like she brings out most of the characteristics I have, so I can’t joke as well without Ella there to tag along and bring me the energy that I bring to the team,” Lauren said. “I think it was very special because I never had her on my softball team and be able to share the memories. I’ve never been stronger in my entire life [then being on such a close-knit volleyball team] and having Ella share that with me. I think that is a very special thing because at the end of the day, we both talk about it. We’re so lucky to have such a close-knit team and be able to share that.”
And once again, the sisters are reaching the same point in different ways, attending North Dakota State University. Ella planned on staying in Minnesota for college, whereas Lauren wanted to branch out and explore her options with numerous university tours. Yet when Ella tagged along to NDSU, she found out this was the college she wanted to go to, much to the horror of Lauren.
“When I found Ella wanted to go there too, I was like, ‘Nope, nope,’” Lauren said. “I did not want to do that. I chose this first, and my dad said that would be a dumb reason to not go to a college you want to go to, because your sister is there. I took that into consideration and I think that its actually a blessing that we’re going to the same school.”
They plan to branch out while attending the college in separate groups and different studies, while still being able to hang out together when they want. They have shared the same friends and same memories on the volleyball team, but look to pursue different career paths and new friend groups in the future, but they will always have their best friend close by.
“They bicker, but it is out of love and brutal honesty that only twins understand,” said Raser. “Although they seem polar opposite in many ways they have the same heart. Both Ella and Lauren are so kind and caring. They put others first, and are the first ones to notice and empathize with their teammates. Their bond is unique and although they are so different and have different goals they are both attending NDSU together next year . . . so no matter how different they are, they are pretty inseparable.”