Lakeland’s sister act

Published 10:37 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lots of high school sports teams talk about being a family. With Lakeland’s softball team, it’s also true literally.

Depending on the lineup penciled in by head coach Steve Wood for a game, more than half of the Lady Cavalier nine can be Wood sisters and Treat sisters.

Erika and Jackie Wood, a senior and sophomore respectively, are varsity veterans this spring. Crystal, Vici and Valerie Treat, a junior, sophomore and freshman, are newcomers this season after moving to Suffolk from Northern Virginia.

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Between the five sisters, with all five starting their softball careers way back in tee-ball, there’s more than 50 years of practices and games.

“I started in tee-ball at five years old and (Jackie) started two years after that,” Erika said. “And we’ve pretty much always been on the same team since then, especially with travel ball.”

For the Wood sisters, it was a case of younger sister following in big sister’s steps.

“I used to do ballet, but then I didn’t really like it, so my dad looked for something more sporting,” Erika said. Erika started what’s now 13 years of softball at Suffolk Youth Athletic Association.

“So then I did (tee-ball) because you did it. I was in ballet because you did ballet,” Jackie said.

Vici and Valerie, the two younger sisters, were the first to get into tee-ball. Crystal then joined in.

Erika and Jackie have been teammates every step, or every season, of the way through SYAA seasons, travel teams and now at Lakeland.

“So that’s a lot of games,” Erika said.

For Crystal, Vici and Valerie, on the other hand, this spring has been a change. Between different age groups and playing for different travel organizations, “it had been awhile since we’d all been on the same team,” Crystal said.

Playing for school and for club teams means having something to do with softball practically every day this time of the year.

“It’s at least six out of seven days a week. Saturdays are our most free day, then we’re back into it on Sundays,” Valerie said.

It’s a good thing all the sisters get along, as siblings and as teammates.

“Before coaches say something, we’ll usually say something to each other,” Crystal said. “Other teammates have said, ‘you’re mean to each other,’ but we know how each of us means it.”

“The things we say to each other, we definitely wouldn’t say to anyone else,” Crystal said.

Vici’s been Lakeland’s top pitcher this season. Valerie’s caught for Vici before, including at their old school before transferring to Lakeland. Now, Valerie’s playing first base. Crystal plays third base or shortstop, making it three Treats in the infield most of the time.

For many teams, Erika’s pitched and Jackie’s caught, making practicing all the time at home easy. For Lakeland this season, Erika’s played some at first and some at pitcher. Jackie plays either second or shortstop.

“We fight sometimes, but it’s just about stuff on the team. It’s never at home or about anything else,” Erika said.

“And it doesn’t get in the way of games. It’s just during practice,” Jackie said.

“She’s always someone to count on and someone to know your strengths and weaknesses,” Erika said.

“You’re always able to talk to each other about the team and everything,” Jackie said.

For Erika and Jackie, there’s also the factor of having dad as coach. They feel they help out the rest of the team being the coach’s daughters.

“It’s good because we can sort of read him and realize what we wants all of us to do. We can translate that to the rest of the team,” Erika said.

At the same time, “it can be a little bit of a bad thing, just because when you mess up, you feel you’re disappointing dad and coach at the same time,” said Erika.

After the countless hours on softball fields, being teammates and sisters are nearly one in the same. With Erika graduating in June, this will be the last high school season for the Wood sisters. The Treats have next year to look forward to together.

“We’re always there for each other and we’re all real competitive,” Crystal said.

“All three of us have a really good bond, on and off the field. Like most sisters I’d say,” Vici said.