By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - For a freshman who traveled more than 2,000 miles to come to Auburn, Dani Solaru doesn’t seem to be longing for southern California.
For Dani, home is where your big sister is. Solaru’s older sister, Samantha, is a senior on Auburn’s soccer team.
“I don’t get homesick because she’s here,” Dani says. “And I really look up to her. She’s everything that I would want to be in a player and a person.”
Dani and Samantha teamed up for one season in high school four years ago.
“That was an awesome experience,” Dani says. “We thought we would never get it again, and luckily I was able to come to Auburn. It’s really a cool experience.”
Samantha is trying to be the protective older sister, without overdoing it.
“I want to make sure she’s doing the right thing. Staying out of trouble,” Samantha says. “College is a learning experience for her, so I want to let her do her own thing a little bit.”
The Solarus are the sixth group of sisters to play at Auburn for Coach Karen Hoppa, joining the Stewarts, Ragsdales, Kings, Ramsiers, and Friersons.
“It’s the ultimate compliment for us to sign a younger sister,” Hoppa says. “That’s the ultimate compliment as coaches, and staff and a program at Auburn.”
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) August 14, 2016
Twin seniors Brooke and Casie Ramsier are preparing for their final season competing together.
“We’ve been teammates ever since we started playing soccer, so it wasn’t a big surprise that we came to school together,” Casie says. “I love having her here. It’s great.”
Besides having a built-in best friend, the relationship also pays dividends during games.
“On the field, I know I can trust her,” Brooke says. “When I look for her, I can pass it, and I know she’ll be there. We have a sense of where each other will be on the field without even really having to look. I like to think we have that twin telepathy or twin connection on the field.”
“We’ve played together for so long that we’re so comfortable with each other on the field,” Casie says. “So, it’s easy to know what ball she’s going to play or what run she wants me to make. It’s that level of comfort we have with each other that’s really helpful.”
Growing up in Birmingham, freshman Anna Frierson made frequent trips to Auburn during middle school, to watch her sister, Katy, a former All-American.
“I came to all of the games and hung out with her here. Got to meet Coach Hoppa and all of the players. It was fun,” Anna says. “It felt like a second home. I felt like I was on the team, even though I was 12.”
Katy, living in Oklahoma City and expecting her first child in November, will be following all of Auburn’s games on television and radio.
“I think one of the reasons she wanted so strongly to go to Auburn is because she got that college experience at such a young age,” Katy says.
Coach Hoppa says younger sisters are not always keen on following in their big sister’s cleats.
“It’s funny, because a lot of times it’s, ‘No,’ at first. As they get a little older, or as they start going through the process, they rethink it and they mature,” Hoppa says. “And they think, ‘Oh, that might be pretty cool.’”
There was a time, Dani Solaru says, when older sister Samantha thought there was nothing cool about her.
“I think I used to be her worst enemy. She did not want to be around me,” Dani says. “Basically, I was the embarrassing little sister. When we got into high school and we actually played together, that’s when we became really close. And now, we’re like best friends.”
“This is a huge program,” Samantha says. “For two people from the same family, it’s awesome. I’m so proud of her.”
“It really just adds to the family atmosphere," Brooke Ramsier says. "Seeing Dani and Sam interact is kind of like of how me and Casie interact. Having Anna, too, adds just even more family to the team. I love having all of them.”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer