Softball Siblings--Caitlin, Lindsay Barnes
|Photo by Cuate Santos | Laredo Morning Times
Texas A&M International University assistant softball coach Lindsay Barnes, left and her sister, Caitlin, who plays for the Lady Dustdevils, have made the most of their unique situation this spring.
As she watched her older sister, Lindsay, grow into a softball star, Caitlin Barnes was always aware of the shoes she would eventually have to fill.
During her illustrious college career at St. Mary’s (San Antonio), Lindsay earned All-Heartland Conference honors four times and All-South Central Region honors three times.
Caitlin, a softball standout herself at New Braunfels High, watched Lindsay end her Lady Rattlers career ranked first in sacrifice flies, second in RBIs, fourth in home runs and games played, and fifth in walks.
So you could imagine the feeling when a few months after Caitlin signed last spring to play at Texas A&M International, Lindsay came on to head coach Scott Libby’s staff as an assistant coach.
“At first I was like, ‘Really, seriously, you’re following me to college?’” Caitlin said, laughing at the thought.
“I thought people would think that the only reason I was on the team was because of my sister. But that’s not the case at all.
“I’m like anybody else. I have to work for my position and try hard like any other player.”
What was once assumed to be a difficult transition – playing college ball with your famed sister, who was a legend in the same conference, as an assistant coach – became second nature for Caitlin.
“At first, I thought it’d be hard, but it’s not,” Caitlin said.
“I think of how I would treat Coach Libby and I treat her the exact same way.
‘This is my sister; I can’t believe she’s telling me what to do’ … I had to get that attitude out of my head.
“Instead, now she’s a role model for me on the field.”
Maturing along the way
Lindsay calls the experience of coaching her younger sister “rewarding.”
But, knowing that difficult circumstances were probably ahead, they talked things over before she accepted the job last summer.
“We laid out that when I’m on the field, I’m her coach,” Lindsay said.
“When we’re around the team, I’m her coach. Anytime else, I’m her sister.
“We’ve drawn a line to where we understand each other.”
As a result of that understanding, there has been no sense of sibling rivalry on the field.
“They get along really well,” Libby said.
“Where they may drive each other crazy is that they’re both perfectionists.
I coached Lindsay in high school and I always knew a lot about Caitlin.
“I kind of hoped the partnership would be a calming influence on both since both are living away from home for the first time.”
Lindsay has seen Caitlin mature right before her eyes.
Caitlin, who is hitting .295 with eight RBIs and two home runs in 23 games as a true freshman, is not only a solid contributor for a conference postseason tournament qualifier, but is also vice president of the Student Athletic Committee and secretary of Student Ambassadors.
“She’s grown as a complete person, player and all,” Lindsay said.
“She’s part of the Student Athletic Committee, she just got back from Africa for a student organization … she’s done so much that I hadn’t even dreamed of her doing.“I’m proud of her in every single way.”
Accepting the challenge
Still, while the positives certainly outweigh the negatives, there can be some tension between the two simply because of blood.
“There’s moments when she gets mad because I said something,” Lindsay said.
“She tries to hide it, but she’s not very good at it.
When those moments come, I’ll go to Coach Libby and say, ‘Well, she’s mad at me again’, and he’ll go and talk to her and we can go our separate ways. It happens every now and then.
“You can tell the sister rivalry is still there.”
There’s also, Caitlin emphasized, a greater responsibility.
“I feel like I’m constantly being watched,” she said with a grin. “It’s like I’m on lockdown.
I have to succeed in school, I have to make a name for myself on the field, I have to be on my best behavior … I have to make us both look good.
“I do feel like sometimes I am a bit separated from the team. Instead of hanging out, going to movies and things, I have to study.
I feel there is something else I have to do – my sister’s here and I have to make us both look good – and a lot of people don’t understand that.
I can’t stay out late or do something that could potentially make us both look bad.
“But I’ve adapted well and it’s pushed me a lot harder.
It’s good for me because it keeps me on my toes.”
The most telling part of the sisters’ relationship on the field comes when Caitlin was asked what was the best thing about having her sister as a coach.
She hesitated not one bit, and a huge smile crossed her face.
“Knowing that she loves me,” she said proudly.
“Even if I mess up and I make mistakes, I can always talk to her and she’ll still love me and she knows what’s best for me.
“She just wants to see me succeed.”
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