From the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest


Chelsae Ketchum

Freshmen softball twins Chloe and Lauren Kesterson before their game against Northern Illinois, Friday, April 19, 2013. Photo by Chelsae Ketchum.

Grant Engle

Student-athletes who come to a Division I school have a lot of adjustments to make. Classes will be more difficult than high school. They have to make a greater time commitment to the sport they play, and it’s likely they won’t know very many people on their new team.

But Lauren and Chloe Kesterson, of Everett, Wash., had a plan for those issues — they would start their softball careers together at Kent State.

“We knew we didn’t want to go to school in Washington,” Lauren said. “We wanted to see somewhere else, but we never expected it to be in Ohio.”

The identical twins said the atmosphere of the campus, their teammates and the coaching staff were the biggest factors in them making the 2,451-mile trip from their hometown.

While both women say they have enjoyed their time in Kent, the journey hasn’t been all fun and games for either of them.

Chloe broke a bone in her hand during the first week of practice, which prevented her from competing for a starting spot in the Flashes’ outfield at the beginning of the season.

After healing, she has entered games as a pinch runner — a role she said has taken some getting used to. Luckily, she said, her sister was there to help.

“I was really upset, but [Lauren] was a great support system,” Chloe said. “She would do stuff like tie my shoes for me, and she was always there for me to help me get through it.”

Lauren earned her way into the starting lineup at the beginning of the season as the team’s everyday shortstop.

Despite having very different roles on the team, 17-year head coach Karen Linder said Lauren and Chloe are always ready to motivate each other on and off the field.

“Sometimes they need to rein it in a little,” Linder said with a laugh. “There are times when they’ll talk to each other in a way I know they wouldn’t talk to someone else. Yet, it doesn’t seem abnormal for them. It’s very interesting to watch.”

Overall, Lauren, Chloe and Linder agreed that the transition from high school to collegiate softball hasn’t been easy, but they are happy with their progress.

The transition for Lauren and Chloe’s mother, Lisa, hasn’t been seamless, either.

Lisa said she trusted that her daughters were prepared to make good decisions and excel on the field and in the classroom, but that hasn’t stopped her from worrying.

“I have my phone on me all day in my hip pocket,” Lisa said. “I worry every minute of every day because they’re so far away. They’re my only children.”

To recreate the feeling of home, Chloe and Lauren said their mother has sent several care packages throughout the year, and they regularly text throughout the day. Also, the twins video chat with their mother nearly every night using FaceTime.

Lauren and Chloe have had other slices of home this season, too. Both of their parents were able to catch up with them in Michigan for a few games in early April.

Their father, Matt, who travels often for work, was also able to attend a few tournaments early in the season.

Even with the video chats, texts and sporadic cross-country flights, Lisa said nothing can replace having “her girls” with her, but she was quick to point out how extremely proud of them she is.

“This year has been huge for my girls because they’ve had to handle a lot of things on their own,” Lisa said. “They’ve done a great job growing up.”

Contact Grant Engle at [email protected].