Lady Coyotes siblings enjoy bond over hockey
Having siblings may be challenging at times, but the bond they have can be one of the best experiences in their lives.
Three pairs of sisters play for the Arizona Lady Coyotes this season: Jaidann and Riley Benson, Audrey and Jocelyn Ju, and Koryn and Kirsten Kaczynski.
For Shawni Benson, the mother of Jaidann, 10, and Riley, 13, the plan for her girls to play hockey was unexpected.
“They were in gymnastics and one day I took a nap and I woke up they were outfitted in hockey gear by their dad,” Benson joked. “They love being on an all-girls team – we started on a co-ed team – but the girls team is a totally different environment and they both love it.”
Jaidann plays for the Lady Coyotes 10U/12U teams, while Riley plays for the 14U/16U teams.
“It’s nice to have someone who lives with you that can be a friend, a sister, and that can always help on the ice or even off,” Jaidann said. “Riley helps me with dryland and at home when we shoot together and she is always telling me the best hints to being a great hockey player. “
Riley also likes playing for the same organization because she says it’s a way to spend more time with her sister and her friends.
“I take things I just learned and share them with Jaidann so she can be the best version of herself,” Riley said. “Not only do I build a better relationship with my friends, but my sister as well.”
Audrey Ju skates on the 12U team, and Jocelyn is a member of the 16U team.
“All the girls are really nice and we can bond easily,” Audrey said. “Playing hockey is fun with the girls.”
For the sisters’ mom, Chong, she enjoys having both siblings in the same sport.
“It is a shared experience for them,” she said. “There is a special bond between all the girls on the teams and between my own two girls because of this unique shared experience.”
While teammates help each other out, Jocelyn also makes sure she gives her younger sister some pointers.
“I tell her to keep skating and don’t stop,” Jocelyn said. “We’re a big family. They are always there for us.”
This is the Ju sisters second year playing for the Lady Coyotes and Chong is pleased with the experience.
“It’s nice to see the girls take responsibilities at this early age of 13 and nine – to have their gear ready, take care of their equipment, water bottles, jerseys, etcetera,” Chong said. “They are learning and maturing and experiencing it together. It’s been amazing.”
The Kaczynski sisters (pictured top) play on the same 12U team as Koryn is 11 and Kirsten is 10. Their parents, Sarah and Rob, love the fact that her daughters can bond together and with other girls over the same sport.
“They are really supportive of each other,” Sarah said. “The discipline the girls have is awesome.”
On the 12U team, Koryn is a forward, while Kirsten plays defense. The entire family joins in off the ice to practice.
“Having to learn to play together and learn their positions is a great learning experience for them,” Sarah said. “Rob is very supportive – we work as a team to do all these things.”
As for Koryn and Kirsten – they love the friendly competition with each other.
“The most fun is when we go head to head in scrimmages against each other,” Kirsten said. “Playing with the Lady Coyotes is fun because of the coaches and playing against the boys.”
Koryn also enjoys playing on the team, as well as telling her sister how to improve.
“We have fun telling each other what we did right and wrong,” Koryn said. ”My favorite part of playing with the Lady Coyotes is getting faster on my skates and competing with the boys.”
— Katy Wolpoff