Katie Reinprecht with teammate Shannon Taylor.
For sisters Katie and Julia Reinprecht, their first Olympic experience has been a little extra sweet. From grabbing pictures of the sights in London to facing the world’s best on the field, the quest for a medal is simply more enjoyable when shared with a best friend.
“This whole journey to the Olympic Games has been really incredible, and to be able to do it with my sister just makes it even more memorable,” said Katie Reinprecht, the elder of the two by 21 months. “It’s really been an indescribable experience.”
The first pair of sisters in U.S. field hockey history has already helped Team USA claim gold at the 2011 Pan American Games. The Reinprechts will also play key roles in the team’s bid for an Olympic medal, which would be the first since 1984.
But the international stage was not the first platform where the siblings competed together as the two have spent most of their careers following in the footsteps of eldest sister, Sarah Reinprecht. In 2009, Sarah graduated from Princeton University, capping her illustrious career as a four-time All-Ivy League selection. The younger siblings were sold.
“We knew we wanted to go to school together, and after seeing how much Sarah enjoyed Princeton and the great school it was, we couldn’t pass that up,” said Julia Reinprecht. “Sarah was always the most level-headed of the three of us, and choosing Princeton was a good balance of academics and the athletics.”
While at Princeton, Katie Reinprecht was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year and First Team All-American, while her sister earned the 2009 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and was twice named a Second Team All-America selection.
It’s no coincidence that the sisters all chose field hockey as their specialty. Their mother, Tina Reinprecht, was their high school coach and founded a club field hockey program, Mystyx, for which they all played. After trying many different sports, the club helped them discover their mother’s passion for the game.
“I didn’t love field hockey when I first played,” Katie Reinprecht said. “I was more into soccer, so I pursued that path. But then when I started playing with Mystyx I started to realize how much I enjoyed the sport. My mom never pushed it on us, but she definitely influenced it.”
When it was time to commit fully to playing at the national level, it was also a group decision. In preparation for the 2012 Games, they took a year off from college to train with Team USA in Chula Vista, Calif. They worked out five days per week and took up sports psychology training. In the meantime, they traveled all over the world for competition, side by side.
Even though Katie was named to the team before her sister, she felt they were together all along.
“I first was named on the team in 2009, but I didn’t feel that way until I moved out to train full-time,” Katie said. “That was actually when Julia and a bunch of the other girls moved out, too. Technically I’ve been on the team longer, but it really feels like we both came into our own around the same time.”
Now in London, the entire family can celebrate the field hockey legacy they’ve built when the team takes the pitch for the second game of pool play Tuesday (July 31). For the sisters, the game will mark another experience to their list of shared memories.
“Luckily, we both made the team, so we’ve been able to celebrate together and share the joy,” Julia Reinprecht said. “We’re kind of attached at the hip. It’s just been awesome to share this experience with someone so close to you. It’s a rare, rare opportunity, so we’re totally grateful for each other.”