A sister act: Stoller siblings make Glenville State a household affair

A sister act: Stoller siblings make Glenville State a household affair


March 27, 2023, noticed the tip of the Kim Stephens period of Glenville State girls’s basketball. An offensive juggernaut for her complete tenure, the Pioneers have been the 2022 DII girls’s basketball nationwide champions and fell simply wanting a repeat within the nationwide semifinals final yr. A month later, her successor was named.

Emily Stoller was named head coach for the approaching season, and she or he shortly employed Abby Stoller as one among her assistant coaches. That is no typo, Emily and Abby are sisters, and it looks like their complete lives have been constructing to this second.

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“A sister is a little bit little bit of childhood that may by no means be misplaced.” — Marion Garretty

Emily and Abby’s story begins in Fairmont, West Virginia, the place the 2 grew up. A part of an enormous household — in accordance with Emily, their mother was one among 17 — the 2 appeared basketball prepared from day one.

“We have been raised in a giant household,” Emily mentioned. “Household means completely the whole lot to us and it is all the time household first, it doesn’t matter what the scenario is.

“We’ve got three older brothers — so that they laid the trail,” she continued. “We all the time made jokes that we had a beginning 5 within the household, so it sort of began there. Our dad was an enormous mentor and was our basketball coach. We did volleyball for enjoyable all through highschool, but it surely was primarily basketball.”

The 2 performed basketball collectively just about their complete lives. Separated in age by roughly two years, they have been in a position to expertise two years of highschool basketball collectively after which three years on the faculty degree. Nevertheless it virtually wasn’t that manner.

“Sisters make the perfect associates on this planet.”— Marilyn Monroe

(Emily Stoller seems to attain, one thing she did typically on the court docket for the Pioneers as their twelfth main scorer all time. Glenville State Athletics)

Emily is the elder Stoller sister and went off to school first. She wasn’t merely a very good participant, she was, effectively, wonderful. Emily was named Instances West Virginian ladies’ basketball participant of the yr and one of many top-five gamers within the state of West Virginia in her senior yr — which have been simply a few her many accolades over a adorned highschool profession. Naturally, DI got here calling and she or he was off to Cleveland State for her freshman yr.

Emily admits she had that “Division I dream,” but it surely did not work out. At the moment, her sister Abby, who was a fairly darn good participant herself, had some calls to play on the subsequent degree in addition to she wrapped up a stellar highschool profession.

“I did not have as many as (Emily), however I had just a few,” Abby recalled of the recruiting course of and gives. “I had Cal U and Robert Morris, however Glenville was recruiting me very closely on the time. They have been coming to all my video games. I obtained actually shut with the assistant coach, and he ended up feeling like a brother to me. So ultimately, I felt like there was a household surroundings right here and I positively needed to.”

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It was clearly the correct match. The lady who grew up taking part in basketball together with her massive sister and three older brothers in a big household that prolonged effectively past the partitions of their house was shortly interested in the household really feel at Glenville State.

And so was Emily. A yr later, Emily transferred in and have become a Pioneer. She was out and in of the beginning lineup her first yr, however by 12 months 2, the elder Stoller led the group in scoring with 18.3 factors per sport — and she or he did it once more her last yr, a yr lower quick by the pandemic. Whereas Emily shot the lights out from outdoors the paint, Abby grew to become a pivotal function participant and ultimately a starter doing work off the boards.

Yearly among the best rebounders on the group, Abby was a starter in 2022 when Glenville State received the DII girls’s basketball nationwide championship. It wasn’t only a super second for the college, it was the primary NCAA faculty basketball nationwide championship within the state of West Virginia… ever. It was a bittersweet second, profitable a championship that was bigger than particular person satisfaction, but in addition the final faculty basketball sport the Stoller sisters would play.

(Abby Stoller embracing a fellow Pioneer after profitable the 2022 DII girls’s basketball championship. NCAA Images)

“It was surreal,” Abby recollected with a smile forming on her face from ear to ear. “I do not suppose anyone on that group might actually fathom the concept that we simply had received the entire thing. It meant so much that we introduced that house for our state, particularly since there was a variety of doubters (Abby jogged my memory a number of occasions all through the interview that I used to be a type of doubters, which I admittedly was). This group simply supported us from day one, so it was good to carry that again for them.

“However when it was over, I used to be like, ‘what do I do now?’ I stood on the court docket, had my fingers up the air. I used to be crying. I used to be like, ‘I am accomplished.'”

Or was she?

“Having a sister is like having a finest pal you possibly can’t eliminate. You realize no matter you do, they’ll nonetheless be there.” — Amy Li

Emily went and performed skilled ball abroad, signing with Greece and taking part in with Spain. “Wasn’t actually my cup of tea,” she recalled, now in a position to snicker about it. Let’s face it, being that far-off from this household was by no means going to work out. Emily returned stateside and was in a interval of her life she referred to as misplaced, driving a FedEx truck and maintaining busy. However then, Fairmont State supplied her an assistant teaching job, and issues shortly modified.

“It is onerous to seek out that adjustment interval after you are a participant, your identification — it is gone, principally — and you have to discover your manner in,” Emily mentioned. “All of us skilled that as athletes upon commencement. I skilled it actually onerous. However having that chance, I’m fully blessed to have my foot again within the door there with (Fairmont State) and it in the end put me again right here the place I’m.”

So, was teaching all the time within the plan? “It was by no means really part of the plan,” Emily mentioned laughing. “I suppose I by no means actually thought too far after commencement. Like I mentioned, I used to be misplaced. And it actually was by no means in my life plans to be teaching, particularly now with my sister right here. We really feel like that is what we’re purported to be doing. And we’re fortunate to have discovered our manner in life this early.”

The identical goes for Abby. She had deliberate to be in entrance of kids mentoring them, however not as a coach. “I used to be initially going to be a first-grade trainer, however Coach Kim (then Stephens, now Caldwell) had referred to as me the summer time after we received and requested me to be the GA for this group. I had texted her throughout earlier in the summertime and was like, ‘I do not know what I love to do, basketball is all I’ve ever recognized.’ She’s mentioned that is precisely why she obtained into teaching. It opened up an entire world that I did not know that I even needed to be in.”

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“In the event you don’t perceive how a lady might each love her sister dearly and wish to wring her neck on the similar time, then you definately have been in all probability an solely baby.”— creator Linda Sunshine

So, after one yr with Emily because the assistant coach and Abby because the graduate assistant, the Kim Stephens period got here to an finish. And on April 28, the Stoller period formally started. Each performed in a system that works — the Pioneers are yearly one of many highest-scoring groups that led DII girls’s basketball in factors per sport in 5 of “Coach Kim’s” seven years. The duo is aware of the way to run the system higher than anybody else having lived it — now it’s simply getting the brand new faces to acclimate.

(Head coach Kim Caldwell (then Stephens) holds one among many trophies she collected in her profession. Glenville State Athletics)

“I’m so pleased with Emily and Abby,” Caldwell mentioned by way of textual content. “This was all the time the objective for them to take over after I left, it occurred a little bit earlier than all of us anticipated however they’re greater than prepared. I coached Abby for 5 years after which employed her proper after as an assistant. I advised her I didn’t know the way to coach with out her there. She is likely one of the most caring and empathetic folks I do know. She is nice for the gamers and is somebody they’ll all the time speak to. She’s one among my all-time favourite gamers and can be a wonderful coach.

“Emily is a ball of power who loves Glenville basketball greater than anybody I do know,” Caldwell continued. “There’s not one other one who will care about that program greater than her. She bleeds blue and I’m excited to what she does. As a participant she helped make Glenville a nationwide pressure and I feel as a coach she will hold it there. They’ve helped me for years as gamers and coaches and I’ll all the time be a fan of theirs. They helped Glenville win twelve totally different championships over their time and I feel they’ve many extra to come back.”

Caldwell did not merely present Emily with the Xs and Os to succeed. “She’s been the perfect mentor for us to be taught below,” Emily mentioned. “We’ve got a particular sort of relationship, not one you can even examine to anything. We’re each attempting to maintain enterprise in two totally different worlds (Caldwell now at DI Marshall), however I do know that no doubt that if a few months goes by with no contact, I can attain out to her every week later and say, ‘Hey, I would like you for this or I would like you for that.'”

What is predicted from the duo in Glenville State, a program now often known as winners? “There’s stress,” Emily admitted. “Coach Kim will go down in historical past as among the best coaches to ever coach right here at college.

“My expectations are sort of based mostly upon the place we’ll begin our journey right here now and never what has been beforehand accomplished. I really feel assured within the ladies that we introduced in. I obtained a variety of youngsters which can be effectively skilled and who possibly have been let down by a few different colleges that basically has constructed that canine in them. And that is what we like right here at Glenville State College. We like the youngsters which can be going to place the whole lot on the ground at each given second with the sort of system that we run — the fast-paced play — they have to have the ability to try this.”

“I haven’t got a lot in expectations,” Abby admitted. “Simply realizing that they are coming in and dealing onerous day-after-day and that we’ll take it sport by sport — I feel we’ll ultimately stand up there. However as of proper now, it’s our first yr with eleven new transfers, so I am simply excited to see how far we go. However I do imagine on this group as effectively.”

One final enjoyable little word to this glorious journey. The second assistant Emily employed to her workers is Corey Hines — the Stollers’ highschool coach. “I keep in mind sitting on the ground with him within the circle with all of our teammates,” Abby mentioned, reflecting again to highschool. “He’d say, ‘you may by no means get to play along with your sister once more.’ After which we obtained right here, and we have been taking part in collectively and now we’re teaching.”

Oh, maybe yet one more apart is vital right here. Sure, each Emily and Abby are Swifties, although Emily is far more into Taylor Swift than her sister. Emily’s go-to track is Is It Over Now, whereas Abby claims she will hearken to Merciless Summer season on repeat all day.

“… the whole lot is extra enjoyable while you do it along with your sister.“ — Lorraine Bodger

Who is aware of what the longer term holds for the Stoller sisters, particularly in a loaded Mountain East Convention. We do know, with out query, no matter problem comes subsequent, the 2 will sort out… collectively.

“We all know it is distinctive and particular, and so we’ll positively by no means take this without any consideration,” Abby mentioned. “We’re simply grateful for the chance. I really like what I am doing proper now. It would not really feel like a job.”

“Having one another via the journey and thru the method, via the little bumps that we expertise right here and there and the expansion that we get to expertise, we get to do it collectively and we get to depend on one another, and that is actually particular — we positively do not take that without any consideration,” Emily mentioned. “We all know that this isn’t regular. We simply can’t imagine that we’ve the chance to not solely play collectively and to be alumni of the identical college and faculty, however to have the ability to coach for Glenville State College and do it collectively. It’s totally particular.”

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