Video by Emily Brutowski

From losing every game freshman year of high school, to state semi-finalists senior year — Avery Sturm and her younger sister Morgan had quite the impact on their field hockey teams growing up.

Whether it was having to practice on basketball courts or traveling seven hours a weekend for their club team, there’s no doubt the Sturm sisters are dedicated to an underappreciated sport.

Junior Avery was the first Division I field hockey player from Roanoke, a city of 100,000. Freshman Morgan followed suit two years later to become the second. Their small private school of 490 students was the only private school in the city that provided field hockey, so they had to choose between playing volleyball, field hockey or cross country.

For Avery, there wasn’t much of a decision.

“I was much more passionate about it than I was for any other sport, so it was just a natural fit,” Avery said.

With a lack of interest and resources, Avery and Morgan turned to their dad for the guidance a coach should have provided. He spent hours pouring over video, teaching himself everything he could about the sport to give his daughters the best chance at success.

“He kind of became our coach,” Avery said. “He spent so much time to help get us where we are today.”

And while the academic awards and athletic accolades add up, they still found time growing up to just be kids. They would film home videos of made-up dance routines and were outside whenever they could be. Sometimes, the pranks and jokes led to things breaking.

“I do this thing where I sit in her room and bug her like poking her,” Avery said. “She went to throw a pillow at me and, as she was going to throw the pillow, she tried to jump off of the bed and ended up breaking one of the boards under the bed and it snapped under.”

“I slept at an angle for like three months because we didn’t want to tell our parents,” Morgan said while her and her sister laughed together. “We eventually told our parents, but it didn’t really get fixed. They actually took away my bedroom and turned it into a playroom for my 10-year-old brother.”

All of her stuff was moved into Avery’s room when they left for college.

“We’re not too thrilled about that,” Avery said, still laughing.

Morgan expects to sleep in the basement when they come home which amuses both of them.

And when they were asked about each other’s quirks, there was a momentary pause before Morgan chimed in. While Morgan spoke, Avery started to cringe and laugh — a combination of apprehension and amusement.

“She has a fear of belly buttons,” Morgan said. “So if somebody touches their belly button she gets really upset, but if you touch hers she’ll go into this fetus position because she feels like she’s going to throw up.”

Avery shrinks into a fetal position, while her sister laughs.

With easy-going demeanors and an obvious connection whenever they’re together, the love between the Sturm sisters is deeper than their fluidity on the field together. And whether that love is shown on the field or in their rooms watching “The Last Song” together, they have each other’s backs.

“She’s very supportive and always gets what I’m going through,” Morgan said. “When we mess up on the field and get yelled at it’s almost like we both get yelled at and we both relate — it’s that kind of thing.”

“She’s really funny. She’s kind of a quirky, weird person,” Avery said. “She has a really unique personality, but I really appreciate that about her. She’s always there to make me laugh.”