Rock Chalk Weekly: Sister, Sister
Written by Tabatha Bender, Kansas Communications Student Assistant
Some people might say that being the middle child has its disadvantages, but for Kansas freshman guard Lauren Aldridge, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She was the first girl in her family, as she follows behind her older brother, Tyler. After Lauren, the Aldridges were blessed with two more girls, Emily and Quinn.
Aldridge’s parents, Steve and Jennifer, have cultivated a close-family atmosphere for their children. With Aldridge being the first to leave the nest, the family has had to make some adjustments. Perhaps the biggest change has been for seven-year-old Quinn, who struggles with being away from her older sister much more than what she was used to when Aldridge was living at home.
“I was 11 when she was born and as she was growing up, I was her second mom almost,” Aldridge explained “Whenever my mom would go to work, I was the one to watch her. I grew up with more of a mother relationship with Quinn. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re so close today is just because we spent so much time together when we were little. I love being a big sister. I have (Emily) too. I think it’s cool that I’m the role model. I like that I get to still play that role. “
With less basketball commitments in the summer, Aldridge was able to be around home more often, however when August came, it became hard for her to visit home. At the beginning of the school year, Steve had to pick Quinn up from school because she was so upset from missing her sister so much.
“It’s been big adjustment for Quinn. We were so close when I was in high school,” Aldridge said “We still are, but it’s been an adjustment. It’s hard for a seven-year-old to understand and to handle. When I miss my family, I know that I’m going to see them in a certain amount of days and I’ll get through. But she’s sort of been blindsided by it all. It’s been difficult for Emily too and the rest of my family just because we’re so close. I think it’s good that Emily is still there. My brother is still there, too.”
Quinn explained that while she still misses Aldridge, as the 2014-15 basketball season has progressed, she has been able to handle her sister being away from home better than when she first left. She said that going to the Kansas games are the best part about Aldridge being on the basketball team.
“I miss her because she snuggles with me and does lots of stuff with me,” Quinn said. “She plays with me a lot when she’s home. I like going to her games because they have mascots there and I get to see them. It’s also cool to see my sister on the big screen. They’re a lot of fun.”
Luckily for Quinn, she is still able to see Aldridge almost daily due to FaceTime. For Aldridge, it’s sometimes difficult because her schedule is so busy and when she has downtime she just wants to relax. She’s noticed throughout the season that it’s important to still invest time in staying close to her family, no matter how hectic her daily life may be.
“What’s funny about Quinn is that she’ll cry because she misses me so much,” Aldridge said. “So I’ll call and talk to her for maybe five seconds and then she’s like, ‘Okay, I’m done.’ I talk to all of my immediate family members all the time though. I’ve had to work at it, but not a lot has changed since I left.”
The most important aspect that Lauren hopes she can continue to demonstrate, despite being away from the Aldridge home, is being a role model to her younger siblings. She aspires to be the same person to them as she always has been, showing them that she can uphold the same morals and values while still away at college.
“Them seeing that I’m still who I was when I was at home is important,” Aldridge said. “Especially for Emily because she’s going through the junior high phase and that is a tough time for girls. They always want to go with the crowd. I think it’s good for her to see that I’ve gone off to college and haven’t done that. For Quinn, I think she sees me playing basketball at Kansas and just thinks that’s the coolest thing in the world. I don’t have to try to be a role model for her, it just naturally happens.”
Although she is just a freshman, the point guard works to be not only a role model and a leader in her family, but to her Kansas women’s basketball teammates, too. Aldridge described it as a learning process, however, and that she has grown into her role more as the season has progressed.
“Stepping in as a freshman, especially as a point guard, you’re thrown 100 different things all at once,” Aldridge said. “On the court I have so many things going on that I would get caught up in what I, personally, was supposed to be doing instead of doing what is natural for me. As I’ve become more comfortable in the system and grown as a player, I’ve been able to lead more. Usually when I’m playing well, I’m in my leadership mode.”
Not only does Aldridge claim that she has natural-leadership ability, but thus far in her young collegiate career, she has been able to lead by example as well. She has chalked up 13 games in double figures behind a career-high 14 points against Oklahoma on Feb. 7. She leads the Jayhawks with 34.9 minutes per game and has totaled 1,083 minutes to date.
On top of those statistics, she sits at third place for assists in the Big 12 averaging 5.0 assists per game. She was the first Jayhawk to bring home a Big 12 weekly honor, as she was named Big 12 Freshman of the Week for the week of Dec. 8 after helping KU to a pair of victories. Even though she’s recorded stellar statistics and racked up accolades already this season, Aldridge fully understands and acknowledges that she still has a lot of learning to do, like any freshman. Most of all, she wants to improve on trusting the process.
“I’m the type of person who wants things right now and in the college basketball world, that’s not always the way it works,” Aldridge said. “You have to be able to buy in to whatever is happening that day and win the day. I know I’m going to have ups and downs, but it’s about handling both the ups and downs properly and being consistent. I think I have grown as a player a lot this year.”
Seniors Asia Boyd, Natalie Knight, Chelsea Gardner and Bunny Williams have also allowed Aldridge to take a guidance role for the Jayhawks. They trust her to lead them on the court.
“Any seniors are going to help, but I think ours are great at being consistent,” Aldridge said. “They’ve helped me transition into my role. They embraced me. Even in June, they showed me they were going to let me lead. They don’t have egos. They’ve wanted to help me grow, on-and-off of the court. That’s very admirable. Anytime you can foster trust between teammates is huge.”
The Marshfield, Missouri native also thanks her role as a big sister and her parents for instilling leadership skills within her.
“Being an older sister has helped me develop my leadership skills to some extent,” Aldridge said. “My parents were phenomenal; they knew how to parent and they did it really well. Today, they’re my best friends. I look up to them as leaders of our family. I think that helped me on the floor in being able to be a leader. I learned by example from them.”
Aldridge’s parents have allowed her to embrace a leadership role within their family. For example, her 12-year-old sister, Emily admitted that she likes it when Aldridge bosses her around. She said that even though it might be surprising, her favorite part about Aldridge is that she tells her what to do.
“I actually like how she bossed me around and told me to do things like pick up my room,” Emily said. “It kept me in line a lot. When my mom tells me things like that, I don’t want to do it but it’s different coming from Lauren. I can also tell Lauren anything. She’s my confidant.”
As a fellow girl, it’s a given that Aldridge is close with her sisters, but she is close with her 20-year old brother as well. She claims that he is her biggest fan, even though the two were banned from playing one-on-one with each other when they were younger because the games would always get too rough and competitive.
“I think the competitiveness trickled into other aspects of our lives, too,” Aldridge said. “Especially with my brother and I. Emily was still too young, but my brother and I definitely had a rivalry going on up until high school when it fizzled out. My brother became my biggest fan instead of my biggest competitor. It’s funny, too, because my brother has heard every ‘Lauren’s brother’ joke in the book but he just embraces it.”
Aldridge admitted that without her biggest fans, her family members, she wouldn’t have been able to get to where she is today. Aldridge’s family has had to sacrifice a lot over the years to support her basketball career, and she is thankful for the love and support they have given her.
“I think once everyone started to realize that I was decent at basketball, everyone realized that it was going to become a family investment,” Aldridge said. “All of our vacations became (locations) where my basketball tournaments were. I honestly would thank my siblings more than anyone because they had to sacrifice so much.”
While her immediate family helped her get to Kansas, and still supports her each and every day to the fullest extent possible, Aldridge has learned to rely on another special group of people — her women’s basketball family – just as much. She explained that the new relationships she has fostered in her first year at Kansas have helped her grow on and off the court.
“First of all, I love everyone here,” Aldridge said. “The transition from high to college, especially (being) away from home, is a huge adjustment. I’ve had to juggle academics because I expect a lot out of myself in that area and basketball is a big undertaking as an 18-year-old. I’ve had to get help from everyone; coaches, academic advisors and teammates. If I didn’t go to my KU family when I need help, then I would get so overwhelmed I wouldn’t be able to function.”
For the Aldridges, seeing Lauren go off to college to become a Kansas women’s basketball player was not an easy transition to make, but they have learned to overcome the challenges of her being gone and have become closer as a family as a result. For the women’s basketball family at KU, accepting Aldridge as a leader and a sister has allowed her to flourish as a player both inside and outside of the game.
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Inside this week’s issue:
- Faces in the Crowd
- Basketball:An International Language
- Inside Softball
- Fuel Recipe of the Week
- Always a Jayhawk
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