Senior outside hitter Carly Waterman has a big role to fill as the leader of a young Montclair State University women’s volleyball team. Among nine underclassmen including seven freshmen, Waterman pushes one young teammate above the rest.
Kelly Waterman is a sophomore setter on the women’s volleyball team and is all too familiar playing with a little extra push from her older sister. She spoke about how Carly Waterman pushes her harder than any of the other underclassmen on the team.
“Push? Yeah. And scream. 100%,” Kelly Waterman said with a laugh. “I’m used to it. It was the same in high school. I’ll get that look [and] know what she’s thinking, and on the court she’ll just look at me and [I’m] like, ‘OK, I’m gonna play better.’”
Though countless siblings have the experience of being teammates on a high school sports team, it’s only a small fraction of which both members move on and play at the collegiate level. Even smaller is the percentage of siblings that go to the same school and again play on the same team in college.
Carly Waterman, who has been an all-conference selection in the past three seasons as well as an All-American in 2019, has taken her younger sister Kelly Waterman under her wing.
“Having each other on the court is cool,” Carly Waterman said. “Especially, like, in practices and being able to help each other out with classes and everything.”
The pair of sisters played volleyball at Verona High School. Carly Waterman graduated from Verona in 2018 and Kelly Waterman followed her two years later as a part of the class of 2020.
Unfortunately, Kelly Waterman’s freshman year of college was limited to a computer screen. However, with classes moving back in person for the fall 2021 semester, Carly Waterman has been helping her younger sister adjust to campus life.
“[One morning] I had to drop her off at the building because she didn’t know where it was,” Carly Waterman said. “[It’s] nice to kind of be a leader because I know when I was a freshman I was nervous. So now being able to make her feel not as lost [is] definitely nice.”
The sisters said since joining the team, the girls see them as two separate people.
The pair of sisters will be the first to tell you that when you get to know them, they have very different personalities. Carly Waterman claims to be louder and more energetic, while Kelly Waterman claims to be the funnier of the two.
Just as their personalities differ, so too did their paths to Montclair State.
“This is actually a funny story,” Carly Waterman said. “Montclair [State] was my last choice. I wanted to go far because we only live, what, seven minutes away? So I was like, ‘I’m getting out of here, out of state.'”
Carly Waterman was considering schools in Pennsylvania, Florida and Hawaii. Eckerd College in Florida was a front-runner early in the decision-making process. The biggest factor, similar to her sister, ultimately became family.
After hearing her parents wouldn’t fly everywhere to watch her play and with enough encouragement from her mom, she decided to look into a local option. It wasn’t until the night before that she decided on Montclair State.
“Luckily I fell in love with [the school] and the team and I stayed.” Carly Waterman said.
Although both of them commute, the Waterman sisters don’t find themselves at home very often. When they are not in class or at practice, the two can be found at work.
Kelly Waterman currently works at The Towne Scoop, an ice cream shop in their hometown of Verona.
Carly Waterman works at Sideout Sports in Fairfield, New Jersey as a coach for the same volleyball club she used to play for.
Kelly Waterman didn’t have the same experience her sister did at Sideout. In fact, the presence of her sister proved difficult to overcome, considering the legacy that Carly Waterman has built for herself at Montclair State.
“I think a big part of it was [hearing], ‘Oh [you’re] Carly’s sister,’” Carly Waterman said. “I think developing her own personality somewhere else was a big part of it.”
The shadow Carly Waterman cast at the university became something to consider when choosing what college Kelly Waterman would attend as a senior in high school.
“That made me not want to come here a good amount,” Kelly Waterman said. “But I figured it would change once we were in college. So I decided it wasn’t going to fully factor [into the decision].”
Eventually, Kelly Waterman committed to Montclair State to play alongside her sister. With both siblings choosing to stay close to home, their parents have attended every game that’s permitted.
“They didn’t let visitors [attend away games], but for every home game they were there,” Carly Waterman said. “It was definitely weird not seeing them there.”
The women’s volleyball team is coming off a shortened season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic where they lost to Stockton University in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship game. Despite coming short of the ultimate goal, the women’s team still tallied an impressive record of 5-2, while going perfect at home (3-0).
As the Waterman sisters take on what could be their last season as teammates, they set out with a mission to bring home a championship to Montclair State.