Sisters, teammates, friends

Current adventure: Case

Unless you live under a rock, you’re probably aware that the first two weekends of the semester were overwhelmed by sorority recruitment. For a lot of young women who go through recruitment, myself included when I was a recruit, joining a sorority is an opportunity to belong to something larger than yourself and to enjoy the bonds of sisterhood.

Except the terms “sister” and “sisterhood” really irk me. I only have one sibling, and he is a boy. So while I will always have a brother, I have never had and never will (barring a surprising, near impossibly change of heart from my parents) have a sister. My cultural linguistic conventions reserve the terms brother and sister to those with whom I share a parent—or in a rare case, a close friend who is so familiar he or she is essentially an extension of the nuclear family. However “like a” precedes brother/sister.

When going through recruitment, I was often confused when someone referred to her sister: “Greek or biological?” I was constantly wondering to myself. Since joining a sorority, I have still been uncomfortable with the term and use it with reluctance.

So what if I don’t say sister? I still love and appreciate the many amazing women within my chapter. They have filled a void left open since high school, the void once filled by my teammates.

In high school, I was a three-sport athlete and always at practice, which meant I was always with my teammates. We endured suicides, weightlifting, early Saturday morning workouts, stern speeches from coaches and tough losses. However we were also able to grow as athletes and human beings through rewarding practices and hard-fought wins. All of this was done together, day after day, season after season.

Looking back my favorite part of high school was having the privilege to spend at least two hours every day after school doing something I love with people I loved. Many of my teammates were also my best friends; the woes of playing time and shared soreness strengthened our relationship beyond the court, field or pitch.

In my eyes, “sisters” are essentially teammates. Exchange Saturday morning practices for Sunday night chapters, and the same scenario develops. While recruitment workshops may seem trivial or mundane, just as a practice might, the end goal is rewarding and brings positive outcomes (new members, yeah!).

Through the trivial, mundane, mandatory, rewarding, exciting and fantastic moments, friendships are organically formed. Small talk will never hasten the friendship evolution as quickly as squats or lining up in alpha order.

I have always loved being on a team: supporting others and working together for a common cause. The common cause is no longer measured by the win-loss column but now through money raised for a philanthropy or points in Pytte Cup. Helping the women of my sorority with their homework or organizing formal is analogous to helping old teammates with their homework (some things never change) or working on their serve.

Whether I prefer the term “teammate” or “sister,” the underlying common denominator is “friend.” You don’t need to be on a sports team or involved in Greek Life to surround yourself with a group of people that will support you just as you support them. Being a good teammate means motivating, encouraging and challenging one another to become better. A true friend will help motivate you to study through finals, challenge you to take a healthy risk and encourage you along the way.

Call it what you want: friend, teammate, sister, brother, amigo, homie, etc. Everyone needs healthy relationships tied together by a greater, common cause. Whether it be on the playing field, a Greek event, the struggle that is CWRU or good ol’ life, everyone could always use another friend.

Heather O’Keeffe is a junior majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in sports medicine. She is just here so she doesn’t get fined.