A house divided still stands: Siblings play at BYU and Utah

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Siblings Bizzy and Andy Phillips wear each other’s college team gear. Bizzy plays for BYU women’s soccer and Andy for Utah’s football team. (Bizzy Phillips)

It’s normal for siblings to fight. Some fight for control of the TV remote or to ride shotgun in the car. But for the Phillips family, sibling rivalries have escalated to Holy War status.

Four of Greg and Cindy Phillips’ five children have played collegiate sports. Junior Andy Phillips is a team captain and kicker for the University of Utah football team while sophomore Elisabeth “Bizzy” Phillips plays midfield on the BYU women’s soccer team.

“At the beginning (Andy playing for Utah) was rough,” Bizzy said. “That first year was challenging, especially because we’re die-hard BYU fans.”

The Phillips family grew up with a BYU flag in front of their house, but now they support both schools.

“I cheer for my kids,” Greg said. “The only time I don’t cheer for BYU is when they’re playing football against Utah.”

Greg also played midfield for the BYU men’s soccer team before and after his mission in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. Greg and Cindy met at BYU where they received their undergraduate degrees. They raised their children as loyal Cougar fans, but as time went on the family’s connections to the University of Utah grew.

Bizzy said the family rivalry is more balanced than ever before. Cindy’s father attended law school at the University of Utah, and Cindy received her master’s degree and is currently working on her doctorate there. Older brothers Steve studied Chinese and art at the U. and Greg Jr. will soon graduate from Utah’s medical school.

On the other hand, Cindy’s parents are BYU football and basketball season ticket holders. Bizzy and Andy’s sister, Cami, attended BYU; and Andy’s wife, Megan, danced as a Cougarette and was Cougarette president from 2011 to 2012.

“It’s really expanded everybody’s horizon and given everybody another team to cheer for,” Greg said.

Andy played soccer growing up and competed on a ski team. It wasn’t until after serving an LDS mission that he even thought about playing football.

At a Thanksgiving family football game, the kids had a field goal kicking contest and Andy was hitting 50-yard field goals. A cousin’s friend played football for the Utes and suggested Andy give it a try. He practiced and sent film to both BYU and Utah coaches. Utah was interested and directed Andy to hire former Utah placekicker and graduate assistant Joe Phillips (no relation) to work with him.

“I was pretty determined,” Andy said in an interview with ESPN College GameDay. “(Playing football) was something I wanted to challenge myself to do.”

Andy walked on at the U. and redshirted in 2012 within a year of the initial Thanksgiving pick-up game.

“Until he played against Utah State two years ago, he never played a snap of football in his life,” Greg said.

Andy later received a scholarship and was named to the 2014 All-Pac-12 First Team. He was also nationally ranked as a kicker in three categories:

  • No. 1 with an 80 percent success rate of made field goals of 40 yards or more (12 of 15, with 2 of 2 at 50 yards) with a minimum of 13 attempts
  • No. 2 in made field goals of 40 yards or more (12)
  • No. 7 in field goals made per game (1.77)

“It is a privilege to be where we are today,” Andy said of his success in the ESPN College GameDay interview.

But Andy isn’t the only Phillips sibling known for kicking. Bizzy scored the game-winning goal in BYU’s 1-0 victory over Utah State on a free kick on Sept. 10.

She wasn’t sure where to place the ball before taking the kick, so she turned to head coach Jennifer Rockwood for advice. Rockwood told Bizzy to aim for forward Ashley Hatch. The shot sailed over the everyone’s heads into the back of the net.

Bizzy called her goal “the luckiest thing of my life.”

Bizzy and Andy may play for rival college teams, but they have a rule: Bizzy cheers for Utah football and Andy cheers for BYU women’s soccer.

Bizzy said she had a hard time cheering for the Utes at first and hoped Rockwood wouldn’t see her wearing red at Andy’s first game. But when Bizzy flashed Andy a “U” sign with her hands at the 2014 Las Vegas Bowl and Andy returned the sign, the moment brought Bizzy to tears.

“We’re all so close,” Bizzy said. “It doesn’t matter which team we play for, we just jump on with them.”

The Phillips family dresses in BYU gear to support Bizzy this season. (Bizzy Phillips)

When Bizzy wants to know how she can improve her game, she asks her older brother Steve, who played soccer all over the world. But when she has questions about mental toughness, she asks Andy. They talk on the phone frequently and help each other out when one is having a rough time.

“He’ll talk me up and then I can do the same for him,” Bizzy said. “Talking things out is really nice for us.”

Greg said the Phillips family always skied and played soccer together. Attending each others’ games gives their family even more things to do together.

“Everybody is always coaching each other and I think that brings people closer together, too,” Greg said.

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