Women's soccer: Cleat swap keeps twins close nearly 3,000 miles apart
MOSCOW, Idaho – The sisters French, Sophia and Lillie, grew up playing soccer together and had dreams of taking their skills to the collegiate level. Through training and perseverance, both were able to achieve that dream and are thriving at their respective colleges.
But this story isn’t about that. This story is about cleats.
“We both went looking for new shoes and we both found these really cool pairs. And so I said ‘What size are your shoes?” and she said ‘They’re an eight,’ and I was like ‘Me too!’ Normally that doesn’t happen,” Sophia French said while walking through the Kibbie Dome earlier this week.
Nearly 3,000 miles southwest, Lillie had a very similar account of the shopping trip.
“We both went looking for new shoes and we found two pairs that we liked and she asked me ‘What size are your shoes?’ and I said ‘They’re an eight.’ She said ‘Whoa, mine are too!’ Normally we have different sized shoes,” Lillie French said, while enjoying the Hawaiian weather after class.
The twins were forced to make a tough decision heading into college and ended up parting ways. Sophia made her way to Moscow to play for the Vandals, while Lillie took her talents to Hawaii to compete with the Rainbow Wahine. And while physically apart, it’s apparent that the connection hasn’t been affected.
“So we were like ‘We should switch one cleat,’ because when we go away to college and we’re away from each other we can have a piece of each other with us all the time,” Lillie recalled in an individual interview, an ocean away from her sister.
“So I said we should switch, since we’re going to be so far away it would be cool to have a piece of her with me. I just thought it would be super cool to have her shoe and my shoe and then if we ever did get to play each other then they would come back together,” Sophia said, in a totally separate interview.
OK, maybe the story isn’t just about the cleats.
“She has always pushed me to be my best and that shoe of hers is a reminder that she’s always going to try her best and I’m always going to try my best. I’m sure she said something very similar to what I said. It’s like a motivational thing for both of us. We’ve been together for our whole lives, so we wanted to stay together somehow. We just use the shoes like that,” Lillie said.
“It’s a reminder and also a motivational piece. She’s my sister, she’s my training partner and with the shoe I get to have her with me,” Sophia said.
The twins faced off last week in Hawaii, with mom, dad and little sister flying into town to cheer them both on.
“It will be cool, I think they’re really excited about it, getting us back together. They’ve watched us play each other before and they said it’s kind of boring because we both know exactly what the other is going to do on the field,” Sophia said.
“I know my mom, dad and sister are flying out here to Hawaii to watch the game, but I think they’re going to be pretty neutral. You’ll definitely hear my little sister in the stands cheering for both of us,” Lillie said.
But back to the cleats. Maybe there’s a little something more to it?
“And they look cool too,” ended Sophia.