When the Keene State College women’s club hockey team took on the University of New Hampshire on Saturday, there was a lot on the line for the Hird family.
Caroline Hird, a senior at KSC, hit the ice to take on her twin sister Julia and the Wildcats of UNH on Saturday, Feb. 6. With the Owls and Wildcats competing in two different divisions, the game didn’t have any implications to the standings, but bragging rights were certainly at stake for the Hird sisters. “It’s a game that I was definitely looking forward to,” Julia said.
Caroline and Julia have played against one another in all four years of their college careers, and the advantage has always gone to UNH, according to Caroline. This year, though, Caroline said she thinks the Owls will give UNH a run for their money. “It’s pretty much been them dominating us every year. But this year, we have a pretty strong team, so we have a chance.” Caroline said.
Caroline also said that it’s a different feeling going up against her sister, as they grew up playing on the same team. Julia said that she too feels a bit strange seeing Caroline on the other team. “It’s weird because it’s like, I actually kind of care about the opponent,” Julia said.
The Hird sisters weren’t originally scheduled to face-off against one another this season, but the game was added to the teams’ schedules, giving the fraternal twins one more chance to earn bragging rights.
“We had to get it in, it’s the last time we’re going to play a college game together.” Julia said.
Caroline and Julia aren’t the only ones with family ties to the game, as their father Jeff Hird is the Head Coach of the UNH women’s club hockey team and his brother Bruce Hird is the Assistant Coach.
Jeff said that before coaching at UNH, he and Bruce had never coached together, but his first call for an assistant upon taking the position was to his brother.
When asked how it feels to coach in such a unique situation, Jeff said it can make for a tough decision on the bench. “The hard part is, you want to see them both win,” Jeff said.
Bruce, who is a graduate of Keene State College, has been coaching alongside his brother Jeff at UNH for three years. “It’s tough because I have a niece on one side, a niece on the other,” Bruce said. “I am an alum, so other than tonight, I want them [KSC] to do real well.” While Jeff is a member of the Wildcats staff now, he did note his faith to Keene State. He said, “I do have a little hoot in me.”
A goal with just over five minutes to play in the third period gave the Wildcats a 1-0 win, a result that was much closer than expected by many.
“Keene absolutely came to play tonight, I’ve never seen them play that well,” Jeff said. “I think if they play that well for the rest of the year, they’re going places. The future is very bright for Keene.”
Jeff said that he’s happy to be a part of his daughters’ collegiate careers, and that he didn’t expect to get this opportunity. When asked about how it felt to have his daughters playing at this level, Jeff said it was a bit of a surprise. “I never thought it would happen,” he said.
Crae Messer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org