Hair pulling, scratching and punching brawls — just another day in a sibling rivalry.
Junior Mary Casey and freshman Bridget Casey, fought with each other after being manipulated by their older sister, Erin. Their mother, Catherine Casey, remembers Erin dominating the younger two and forcing them do whatever she wanted when they were younger.
Growing up, Erin was Mary and Bridget’s female role model as they are the three girls in a family of seven.
Tears and yelling were a commonplace in the Casey household, especially because all three sisters shared a room. Catherine said sometimes an explosion of stinky shoes and smelly socks filled the room.
As they got older, they grew closer, and now Mary and Bridget play for Lehigh women’s soccer team. Once rivals, now teammates — but always sisters.
The sisters have different personalities — Mary is serious and strong-willed and Bridget is shy and mellow. However, their love for soccer and desire to earn a title binds them together.
The Casey sisters play together on the left side. Mary said they have great combinations. When one has the ball, the other knows where she’s going with it and their flow is seamless.
Their relationship grew through playing with their feet, but they both want to work with their hands in the classroom. The sisters are both majoring in biology, with aspirations to enter the medical field. Their father is an orthopedic surgeon, so they were influenced by science as children.
Mary said she remembers, with her sister by her side, watching their dad cast broken bones, stitch up patients and analyze X-rays.
Now at Lehigh, they work together both on the field and in the classroom to achieve their future goals in medicine.
Mary is further along with her degree than Bridget, so she said she helps Bridget with her classes.
“Definitely having someone like her (Mary) to look up to in this aspect is so good because she’s such a hard worker,” Bridget said. “She’s so focused on school that it pushes me harder, too. If I’m ever confused in a class, she’ll help me with tutoring or even picking my classes….It’s always nice because she’s always here to help me.”
Bridget said she always goes over to Mary’s house to do homework, eat dinner and hang out. The two also makes sure to watch the Philadelphia Eagles together every Sunday during football season since they were raised as staunch Philadelphia fans.
A new environment and academic similarities influenced an even stronger relationship between the sisters.
“It’s nice to have a person that’s always going to be on your side no matter what,” Mary said.
Miranda Royds, ’21, grew up near the Casey family, and she bonded with Bridget after playing on the same soccer team. Now, Royds plays alongside both sisters.
When Royds came to Lehigh, she became close with Mary who mentored her and made her feel like family. Now, knowing both sisters, Royds recognizes similarities and differences between the two.
“They’re always the first ones to be there for you,” Royds said. “If you had a hard day, they’re the first ones to treat you like you’re part of their family. They’ll do anything for one another, which is a great thing to have within your team. Looking at Lehigh women’s soccer as a whole, trying to build a cohesive team culture, that’s a perfect way to start it.”
Royds said the intangibles they bring to the team are more valuable than anything else they could offer because their qualities are necessary for a championship victory.
Bridget played in all 20 games in the 2018 season. She started in 13 games and had 1 assist. Mary played in 18 games and started in 2 of them. The Mountain Hawks were defeated by Boston University in the Patriot League Championship, 1-0.
Strictly speaking about the fundamentals of soccer, they are completely different.
“Mary is more of a straight head, get after it attacking player, where Bridget is a pretty lock down defender,” said head coach Eric Lambinus. “Although they play on the outside, they bring different skill sets to what our team needs.”
Although the two work together in the fall, Mary is a sprinter and mid-distance runner for the women’s track and field team in the winter and spring. This gives the two separation in the off-season to build their own identities at Lehigh.
Bridget said she’ll miss having her big sister at winter workouts and practices, since she can always rely on her. She’ll have to turn to her teammates more, create other relationships and make her own mark.
Mary said she appreciates that she can compete with her sister because she knows they both bring something different to the team. However, she loves to transition into her own sport because it’s something that is completely hers.
The relationship between the Casey sisters has already grown from their first semester together at Lehigh, but the sibling rivalry that started in their childhood will exist throughout the rest of their careers.
“When I lose to Bridget, I’m pretty frustrated,” Mary said. “I’m not going to lie. You know, it’s fine though. At the end of the day we’re family, and that’s what’s most important.”