COLLINS -- At Collins-Maxwell, it’s softball in the family.
“We’re always on the same page,” said Mikayla Houge.
“It’s easier because we can all push each other,” said Alexis Houge.
“There is a family feel with everything we have,” said Troy Houge.
Head coach Troy Houge also goes by "Dad" to junior Mikayla, and freshman Alexis.
“I love playing with my whole family. It’s a lot of fun. We have a good connection and a good relationship,” said Mikayla.
“We’re always with each other, bouncing ideas off each other, helping each other with anything in the game,” said Alexis.
That happens on the field, and at home.
“There’s a lot of times I need to step back and be dad, and not be coach,” said Troy. “There’s times where I’ve got to be coach and not dad. It’s not always easy to do and keep those two separated.”
“Sometimes he’s extra hard on us just because he expects a lot out of us,” said Mikayla. “We like how hard he is on us though, because we need to hear that.”
“Not everyone gets the opportunity to play with their big sister, or even get their dad as the coach,” said Alexis. “So it’s cool.”
If three isn’t enough, Collins-Maxwell could be getting more Houge reinforcement. Troy’s third daughter, Erica, is eligible to join the varsity squad as an eighth grader, next season. But that’s not where the Spartan sisterhood ends.
“Together it makes it a little more fun.”
Ella and Emma Kahler are both outfielders. And fraternal twins.
“It’s nice to have someone to talk to on the field and then off the field at home and stuff, we can talk to each other and pick each other up,” said Emma Kahler.
“I know I have someone out here who’s not always against me and she’s always there to better me. It’s really nice to have a best friend on the field,” said Ella Kahler.
Last year, three Houges plus two Kahlers added up to one state title.
The belief they can do it again is as strong as their bond.
There is a target on our back, but we just play our game,” said Mikayla Houge. “We’re playing exactly how we did last year. Keeping it loose. We have a good relationship with our team. It’s a pretty special group of girls.”
That’s a lot of closeness.