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Sundre twins show value of teamwork

Sundre twins Karlee and Amber Overguard are living proof that teamwork works best.

Sundre twins Karlee and Amber Overguard are living proof that teamwork works best.

Fourth-year students at the Ivy League Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the Overguard sisters say the mutual support they give each other means everything – both in their scholastic pursuits and as members of the school's women's hockey team, one of the best in the U.S.

“It has been amazing to be able to share this experience with my sister Amber; we have always been there for each other no matter what,” said Karlee.

“We are each other's biggest critics and push each other to be our best day in and day out, but I believe that's what has made us such tough, tenacious competitors.

“Amber is such an inspiration to me, no matter what kind of adversity comes her way she has never let it hold her back, but instead uses it as motivation to overcome that next obstacle.”

For her part, Amber says, “It has been very helpful to have Karlee here. She is a great support system, and we are always competing against each other and pushing each other to be better. That's what twins do isn't it?”

Amber is in Cornell's college of agriculture and life science, majoring in developmental sociology. Karlee is majoring in natural resources, a subsidiary of the program of environmental sciences.

Going from small-town Alberta to an Ivy League school has “definitely been an adjustment”, said Amber.

“Being from a farm I wasn't used to the hustle and bustle even small cities experience on a daily basis,” she said. “It took a while to adjust but in my fourth year here I feel very comfortable and knowledgeable about what's going on around town.

“As a freshman (first year) I was certainly taken aback by how many sirens were constantly going off; often I found it hard to sleep. Now sleeping is much easier, thankfully.”

Now four years on, Amber says that overall the entire Cornell experience has been very rewarding.

“Cornell has been a great experience,” she said. “Its wide variety of classes and very diverse population has helped me both learn and grow as a person in many ways, though I won't deny that Cornell's curriculum is very challenging and it has definitely been an adjustment balancing school and hockey. Time management is very important.”

Since joining the Cornell hockey team in 2006, the sisters have helped turn the team's fortunes around in a big way.

Last year they played a big role in getting Cornell to the NCAA championship run, where the team lost a close, hard-fought match to Minnesota at Duluth.

In six years prior to the Overguards joining the team, Cornell failed to win more than nine games a season. Coaches have said the Overguard sisters have been a big part of the team's turnaround.

Today Amber is the team captain and Karlee is the assistant captain. Just last week Karlee was one of two players named Most Defensive Forward by the ECAC for 2010/2011.

This season the team clinched the Ivy Leagues title, consisting of schools Cornell, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, and Brown. The league is part of the ECAC league.

On the scholastic side, Karlee said following graduation her plans include a return to Alberta.

“I graduate this year with a B.S. in natural resources concentrating in resource policy management,” said Karlee. “After graduation I plan to return to Alberta and do environmental work for a year, then I plan to continue my education and get my master's.”

For her part, Amber also has some big plans after graduation.

“I graduate this year, with a development sociology major. I have also been taking pre-med classes since I've been here and hope to apply to medical school in a year. Next year I will most likely be returning to Cornell to take some classes in preparation for the MCAT,” she said.

Amber says she hopes her and her sister's experiences at Cornell will be an inspiration to other girls who hear about their story.

“As young female athletes, my sister and I have faced many boundaries, some that had to do with sexism against females in aggressive sports, some had to do with people who just didn't believe in us,” she said.

“I want young girls out there who are pursuing their dreams to know that sometimes you get discouraged, or things seem unreachable but never stop trying, never stop working for that goal.

“It has always been our goal to play NCAA Division I hockey, and many people told us we couldn't do it. But here we are, on one of the best teams in the whole nation.”

Both sisters are quick to recognize all the people who have helped them get where they are today.

“We have always had the support of our family and from many coaches along the way, many of which are true Sundrariens,” she said.

“We'd thank our family and the people who have helped us along the way, people such as Chris Helland, Ron Dube, John Bargholz and Paul Gleeson. These men never stopped believing in us and we are very thankful for everything they have taught us.”

Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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