By Gabby Stockard
Emma and Eliza Monson are two sisters with a superfan dad and a love for lacrosse.
When they were young girls, their father, Troy Monson, began coaching lacrosse, which was new to their hometown in Oregon.
Little did they know, their father’s coaching would turn the Monsons into a dedicated, lacrosse-loving family. Their affection for the sport would only intensify as Emma and Eliza began playing at Brigham Young University.
Because Emma is the oldest sibling, with Eliza and two younger brothers following, she began to pave the way for lacrosse to become a regular activity in the family. She played on a club team and soon after, her sister Eliza joined in when she was nine years old. Both girls quickly fell in love with the game.
With their dad Troy leading the way, Emma and Eliza played on the high school lacrosse team together. Many memories came out of their time playing together, including defeating a rivalry team that Emma and Eliza had never beaten before.
“It was neck-and-neck and we won in sudden-death overtime,” Emma said. “Then, my dad brought a speaker out to the field and just me, my dad and my sister had this dance party in the middle of the field.”
Troy was already showing his super fandom for the girls, but it wasn’t close to stopping since Emma and Eliza were just getting started as teammates.
The girls separated when Emma went to BYU to play her first year of lacrosse and then went to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan. Emma said the day she got the call informing her that Eliza made the BYU women’s lacrosse team will forever be a highlight for her.
“When I found out she made the team, I just cried. I was so excited,” Emma said.
In January 2020, Emma returned from her mission and started back at BYU where she joined up with her freshman sister. In just a few short months of games and practices, they learned how to support and build each other up to be better players.
“It’s good because we understand each other’s breaking points and can help encourage each other with that extra level of relationship,” Emma said.
But, strong sibling bonds and close relationships can cause some challenges.
“Trying to keep lacrosse and your personal relationship separate sometimes is a challenge, because if we’re in a fight about something and then we go to practice and we’re still arguing about it, it can affect our practice,” Eliza said. “We also like to yell at each other sometimes and it can be taken the wrong way.”
Being siblings and teammates also means discovering their competitive boundaries. Because Emma is older, she recognizes the challenges that come along with being the older sibling.
“I know it’s probably harder for her because I’m the older one, and it’s tough to balance that boundary of what’s okay to say to each other as far as encouraging and correcting,” Emma said. “I can’t talk to her as a sister, I need to talk to her as a teammate.”
Regardless of the challenges, the sister bond that Emma and Eliza have allows them to succeed and to be better teammates. They are each other’s “go-to;” no one else on the team can hype or calm one another down as they can, and their dad helps too.
“He calls himself ‘extra dad,’ because he’s so extra,” Emma said. “He got a BYU Lacrosse sweatshirt and got both of our names and numbers engraved on the sleeves.”
Though Troy lives in Oregon and is unable to attend all of the girls’ games, which are often in California, Colorado, or around Utah, Troy knows how to support his girls from afar. He’s a BYU women’s lacrosse superfan, and even sends Emma and Eliza pregame texts and songs.
“They are both such nice people, but once they get a lacrosse stick in their hands, they flip a switch and their ‘Mamba mentality’ emerges and they want to dominate you,” Troy said. “It’s phenomenal, and I know that they both really love going through this time as sisters and teammates.”
Head coach Nikki Dabrowski said having sisters on the team is a benefit for the entire team. There is more comfort and care for one another on the team that ultimately comes from these sisters showing love and care for each other, she said.
“Although (Emma and Eliza) are different personalities, it is clear they love each other,” Dabrowski said. “They take care of each other and their teammates very well.”
The Monson sisters have been able to motivate and push each other to finish drills, win games and become better players. Though they might be sisters, they are also a perfect example of what it means to be teammates as well. And through their love for the game and desire to improve, they have been able to grow closer together and build a stronger relationship.
While the lacrosse team was looking forward to playing against competitive Utah teams and moving forward to regionals with an eye set on nationals, the season was unfortunately cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the sisters have remained positive as they will continue to pursue their dream of playing together for the next two years.
“I just love every second,” Emma said about playing with her sister. “Even the hard ones.”