When people think of the islands of Hawaii, they think of honeymoon vacations and cruises from the West Coast. But for sophomore Aisha and freshman Shayna Price, the island paradise of Hawaii served as a training ground for the rigors of Ivy league athletics. Born only 14 months apart, the two sisters developed a strong bond from their early days of sports in Honolulu.
“From the time we were four years old, we played soccer and basketball together,” Aisha said. “And later when I picked up water polo, Shayna started playing also, so we played on the same team for all our lives.”
The Price sisters, both attackers on the Harvard women’s water polo team, have shown their natural abilities over the course of the season thus far, contributing a total of 39 goals, 18 assists, and 43 steals between the two. The duo has played a big role in the Crimson’s 7-2 start.
Less than two years ago, Shayna and Aisha competed for Punahou High School, whose athletics program was ranked No. 1 in the country by Sports Illustrated in 2008 and 2009. The demanding schedule of their high school’s athletics prepared the girls well for the move to the Ivy League.
“I feel like I had to [practice for long hours] all throughout high school, so sports have really helped me to keep my school work in check,” Shayna said. “In terms of transitions, it’s been very smooth. It’s been a good transition and I’ve been able to manage it.”
Not only does Aisha devote her time to the water polo team, she also plays for the Harvard women’s soccer team. This season, she started six games at the midfield position and scored her first career goal against Dartmouth.
Both say that having a sister on the team has been a huge advantage toward helping them adjust to being away from home.
“We can accredit everything to having a sister on the team,” said Aisha, who was named the water polo team’s Rookie of the Year last season. “We are at this point today from training with each other since we were younger. It’s been the greatest blessing that both of us can come to school together.”
Coming from a very close family, living so far away from home can, at times, be a challenge for the sisters, but it was a difficulty for Aisha eased by Shayna’s arrival on campus this year.
“We owe everything to our parents, who have supported us every step of the way,” Shayna said. “Both of our parents had been at every one of our games all our lives [until leaving home].”
Before and after each game, both sisters call their father, whom they consider one of their coaches, for pep talks and game recaps. Because the flight to Boston from Hawaii is so expensive, their parents have not been able to make the flight out to see them play yet this season.
The Price parents will finally be able to see their daughters play together for the first time as teammates on a Division I college team during spring break when the team will head to California for a tournament.
“They compete very hard, and when they are put on opposing teams in practice, they go crazy going after the ball,” said Harvard water polo coach Ted Minnis. “It’s great to have two sisters who love the game as much as each other and who have fun every play. They have such a natural chemistry, a sisterly bond that extends to the entire team.”
With such an accomplished history shared between the two, Aisha and Shayna have developed an obvious bond in the pool that extends beyond most teammates’ relationships. They have grown to fully understand each other’s playing styles and can anticipate each other’s every move.
“I can really tell when she wants the ball, just by looking at her eyes,” Aisha said. “Then Shayna can rocket it in the goal, because she has a great arm.”
But while this bond can force the sisters to be overly competitive at times, when they step out of the water, Shayna and Aisha put aside their athletic rivalry to focus on what is truly important to them.
“We go very hard against each other, even in practice,” Shayna said, “because we know at the end of the day, we’re still sisters.”
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