“It’s just been really cool to like carry on the tradition and I’ve just been able to watch my older siblings who had the last name and saw all the positive things that they have done for this school and being able to carry that out continue with the name has just been very fun.”
Naperville North’s Ashley and Sydney Kushner are not the first set of siblings rocking a Husky uniform. In fact, it all started in the fall of 2015 when the first of three Kushner girls stepped on the Naperville North Volleyball court with Sarah beginning her varsity career as a freshman. Sarah played a key role in the Huskies, helping them take home the regional crown that season. Fast-forward to Sarah’s senior season in the fall of 2018 and along came Ashley who also followed a nearly identical path as her older sister. The Huskies won another regional title that year, advancing all the way to the sectional championship.
“We never thought we’d be able to play together just because of our age gap when we were able to we were just both happy and excited because I was able to watch all of her high school career and come to the high school games and just being able to be in it with her was so fun just like extra time to spend time with her.”
After the graduation of one Kushner, the third Kushner sister made her debut one year later, with Sydney also making varsity for her freshman season in the spring of 2021. As the Huskies enter a more traditional fall season, the current sibling duo realized that this was going to help advance their performance in a big way.
“We were both just surprised and just happy because it’s such an uncommon thing like that we go to the same school at the same time we play the same sport and are at the same level so it was kind of like a nice surprising moment and just excitement for like what was to come.” “I was super excited to start with her because I’ve always looked up to Sarah’s and Ashley’s relationship on the court so it’s really cool to be able to experience it with her.”
As Sydney competes in her second varsity season, having her sister as a teammate not only puts the sophomore in a comfortable position on the court, but also helps bond the family like no other.
“Ashley’s really honest with me like in the best way possible she really helps me like with all my skills and just like leadership skills she’s given me a lot of advice.”
Teammates Paige Lauterwasser and Kara Oxenknect are confident that the pair will likewise help improve their style on the court.
“I know Ashley is always some that I looked to she kinda keeps me in the game and she always has the same look on her face and if I’m struggling I can look to her know that she’ll be a consistent person on the court.” “When I’m down they really just help me get back in the right mind set and help lead the team and just get out of my head.”
Oxenknect is a 3-year varsity starter for the Huskies and while competing in those 3 seasons with Ashley she knew that the family itself was one she will always look up to.
“I was around practices sometime with Sarah and the whole family they’re just such great leaders and they’re all positive people to be around and super inspiring it’s definitely interesting to see their differences and similarities and they all are such a special part of North Volleyball.”
Sarah was an outside hitter during her four years in the blue and orange, thanks to her power and height. It’s a position she still thrives in as an All Missouri Valley Conference selection at Illinois State University. Ashley and Sydney are both a little shorter and are known for their quickness and defensive abilities. Ashley is the team’s libero while Sydney is a defensive specialist.
While this season is the last time these two will compete together, they will still remain partners on and off the court.
“You’re a teammate and also a part of the same family so you’re riding to practice together riding home together you know you’re at the same house same practice same school so you’re just able to get to bond on another level and just be able to get closer with someone in your family so it’s very fun.”
The Kushners, Lauterwasser, Oxenknect and the rest of the talented Huskie roster is well designed to make another post season run. Even more good news for Coach Urban is that family name will stick around Naperville North through the 2023 season. Nine seasons of a Kushner on the roster equal more victories on the volleyball court.
Reporting for Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Patrick Codo.