Back when they were kids, Carly Adams (the older sister) and Calyn Adams (the younger sister) competed in everything they did. The competitions never came to blows, but regularly, the two would have to be separated, particularly when it came to bouts of Mario Baseball on the Wii.
“There were several nights that mom took the controllers away from us,” Carly recalled.
“Mario Baseball got so intense, our parents said we couldn’t play anymore,” Calyn confirmed. “After a little while, when the dust had settled, we were like, ‘OK, I pinky promise, we’ll be nice this time, just let us play.’”
This weekend, the competition continues, and if it any point the two need to be separated, it will be umpires, not parents, who have to step in. See, thanks to the scheduling of their two head coaches, Carly and Calyn are going to do something on Saturday they’ve never done before: play against each other in softball.
Carly, a senior, plays for Longwood University in their home state of Virginia. Calyn, a sophomore, plays for Mississippi State. And that’s why the coaches scheduled this matchup amidst the Bulldog Slamboree in Starkville, each team playing five games over the course of the weekend. Of course, to those in the family, it’s the one on Saturday at 1 p.m. between the Adams sisters that matters the most.
This game being the first time the two have played against each other in their favorite sport is somewhat surprising, but throughout their lives they were either on the same team or just in different age brackets when it came to softball. For a pair accustomed to always cheering for each other, both sisters say the experience of being on the field at the same time for opposing teams will be a weird one, though Calyn did concede she expects a little trash talk when the two are close enough to do so quietly.
“We’ll keep it classy,” she assured.
However, for all their competitiveness, the two are as supportive as any sisters could be imagined In fact, Calyn says, while a solid 10 percent of their conversations may be varying levels of trash talk, the remaining 90 percent is purely encouragement. They always want to see the other do well, presuming it doesn’t mean getting beat themselves.
Carly, two years Calyn’s elder and the middle of three sisters, began playing softball when she was four. A year later, Calyn got into the game herself. The sport, along with their family and their faith, has consumed their lives ever since, and they’ve gone through it together, whether cheering for each other from the dugout or the stands.
Calyn has always looked up to Carly, now a four-year starter for Longwood who helped lead the Lancers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in any sport in the school’s history. Baby sister grew up watching big sister play and using her as an example to follow.
“She’s a great bunter,” Calyn said. “All of her mechanics are just really solid.”
Meanwhile, Carly couldn’t have been prouder as her protégé eventually became one of the top players in the state, ultimately signing on to play for MSU.
“She’s a phenomenal athlete,” Carly bragged.
This weekend, a family reunion of sorts will take place in Mississippi, as members will come from all over to watch Carly and Calyn play, both against each other and against the rest of the teams in town for the tournament. The oldest sister, Caryn, and her husband will fly to Starkville from Maryland. More relatives are driving over from Georgia. However, it is the absence of one family member that makes this weekend even more meaningful for them, and it is hers whose presence will be felt most.
Last week, Carly and Calyn were called home for an emergency, dropping their bats and gloves to get to their parents as quickly as they could. Their mother had been sick for some time, and now her ailment had taken a bad turn. They arrived late in the week, and a couple days later, on Saturday afternoon, Carolyn Adams passed away.
The grief and the ensuing days of emotional services were assuredly hard to bear. For a family feeling broken, this weekend and the immediate reunion it brings offers the Adams’ a chance to jumpstart the healing process, to be together and to celebrate the blessings they have through the accomplishments of Calyn and Carly.
“It means a lot,” Calyn said. “A lot of people would say it was bad timing for us to play each other this weekend, but I really see it as the opposite. I think that this is the perfect weekend for us to be playing each other. As far apart as we all live, with everything that’s going on, we’ll get to be around each other and spend a lot of time together. That will really be what’s nice, just having everybody together.”
“It couldn’t have come at a better time, honestly,” Carly said earlier this week before dropping her sister off at the airport. “Calyn is leaving today to get on a flight back. Normally, that is the hardest part about being home for me, having to send her back and say goodbye. It’s so much easier because I know I’m going to see her in a couple days. Calyn is my best friend. She’s always been my best friend.”
Carly and Calyn are each other’s strongest supporters, and it won’t be hard to spot their loudest supporters this weekend, either, the group in the grandstands wearing Longwood shirts and MSU hats, or some combination of apparel supporting both the Bulldogs and the Lancers.
“The fact that they’re going to be here is enough for me,” Calyn said of the difficult cheering situations her family will have. “I know my dad just wants both of us to play really well, and then whoever wins, wins.”
And for the two youngest Adams sisters, it’s a milestone moment in their friendship and careers.
“As soon as I found out that they were on our schedule, there were a couple moments that I teared up,” Carly confessed. “This our whole life. Calyn and I have been playing softball since I was 4 and Calyn was little. We played our entire life. Our whole life is wrapped around softball. Us getting the chance to do this together at such a high level is unbelievable.”