Three Saugerties sisters, Rebecca, Emily and Nicole, are currently playing high school basketball; one at Saugerties High, the other two at Coleman. It all began with Michael, the older brother and a recent Saugerties High graduate who played on the frontline for the Sawyers’ varsity basketball team for three years and served as an inspiration for his sisters.
“Michael was a pretty big and important influence on me,” said Rebecca. “My sisters and I have always looked up to him.”
According to Rebecca, basketball has been a huge part of the family for over a decade.
“During the season, our lives revolve around basketball,” she said. “When my brother was on the varsity team as a junior, I was on JV and my sisters were on modified. That means three different schedules that my parents had to work with. And on top of that, we all played SAA basketball at the time.”
Rebecca credits her parents – her father was a former high school basketball player himself – with going out of their way to make sure all the athletes in the family were given attention.
“Someone always had a practice, scrimmage or a game and none of us ever missed a practice due to not having a ride or anything of that sort,” she said. “My parents are always running around for us, especially now since we’re at two different schools and practice at the same time. I don’t think they know how grateful we are for everything that they do.”
Each of the Curley girls started in fourth grade in the Saugerties biddy league.
“I was taking dance classes until I saw my brother Michael play modified,” said Emily.
After that came SAA, CYO teams and the competitive AAU league under Coach Cliff Sauer on the Albany Capitals.
Not like she pictured it
Rebecca, a senior captain and a standout on the Saugerties varsity girls’ team, strikes a dominant low-post presence in the Mid-Hudson Athletic League. She’s had knee problems, though, and this could be her last year of competitive basketball. As good as she is, Rebecca thinks her younger siblings might be even better.
“Prior to entering the seventh grade, my sisters would come to the open gyms that the high school would have during the summer,” she said. “I remember being a sub and watching them play with the older girls and standing out. And they were only in fourth grade and were showing up freshman players. That’s around the time I realized how good they were going to be.”
At the time, Rebecca pictured a future team with an all-Curley frontline. She’d be a senior and Emily and Nicole would be standout freshmen. “My coach told me that for my senior night game, he’d start me and my sisters,” said Rebecca. “I thought that was the coolest thing ever. They’d call the line up and all three of our names would be called, I’ve never heard of that happening before. I was extremely excited and could not wait for that game.”
But it wasn’t to be.
Though there were other factors involved in the decision, concern that athletics would not be funded this year pushed Emily and Nicole into a Coleman basketball program that’s blossomed over the past few years under head coach Guy Leonard.
“Making the transition to Coleman was difficult in the beginning,” said Emily. “Now I’m comfortable with my routine at school. I love Coleman.”
The transition to Coleman may have actually proven more difficult for the Curley sister who stayed in Saugerties.
“When the season started this year, it was so hard,” Rebecca said. “At practice one day, out of nowhere it just hit me that our names weren’t going to be called at senior night like I’ve been picturing it since the seventh grade. I was so torn up about it. It was such a stressful first week of basketball without my sisters, and some days it still is. I’ve been to a few of their games, and it’s just so weird seeing them in a Coleman jersey. They wear it well, don’t get me wrong, but I’d much rather see us all in the same color jersey.”
Two of a kind
It hasn’t been easy for Emily and Nicole, either. But they have each other. Sometimes that can be confusing.
“It’s a lot of fun playing with Emily,” said Nicole. “But there are some disadvantages and advantages. Teammates and coaches mix us up. During a game when one of my teammates calls out a name either Nicole or Emily, we both respond. Emily and I confuse other players when we are on the court at the same time. (But) we also know where each other are on the court.”
Though Emily and Nicole are still at the beginning of their high school basketball careers, they’re already planning on playing in college. And while she doesn’t expect to try out for any teams herself once her Saugerties career winds up in a few months, Rebecca is optimistic her sisters will be able to fulfill their dreams.
“I’m going to play intramural in college and whatnot,” she said. “My sisters on the other hand have the potential and skill to go far, and I can’t wait to see where they end up.”