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Long distances do not derail family support

Sarah Rebibo, junior guard on the women's basketball team, credits her family for her success in the sport. Photo courtesy of Chico State.

Family matters; in life and in sports.

Chico State athletics are no exception. Family plays a huge role for many Wildcats in their respective sports, regardless of distance.

For players like Sarah Rebibo, a junior guard on the women’s basketball team, family is the very reason she got into the sport. Rebibo said she began playing basketball at a young age with her three older brothers.

“My brothers were the reason why I play basketball,” Rebibo said. “I grew up playing with the guys, and now it’s just a part of my life.”

Rebibo said all three of her brothers and her parents have played a big supporting role in her athletic life. However, things became difficult when Rebibo left home in Southern California to play at Chico State.

“It takes a toll on me; I tend to play really well with family around,” Rebibo said. “It’s like I don’t have my supporters out there. I still have to go out and get the job done, but it’s tough.”

Even with so many miles between them, Rebibo’s family still has a strong relationship with her basketball career. Her parents follow her games constantly, and she often calls her older brother, David, for advice after games.

He said Rebibo would play with her older brothers and would show her competitive spirit even after defeat.

“She kept coming back for more,” her brother said. “She never wanted to accept losing or the fact that she couldn’t beat us.”

Her brother, an assistant coach at UC San Francisco, said Rebibo came to him years ago and said she wanted to get serious about basketball. They began working out together to strengthen Rebibo’s skill set.

And when Rebibo comes calling after games, her brother uses his own basketball experience to help out.

“I put aside the brother hat or protective hat and just look at it from coach’s perspective,” he said. “We talk about what she can do to help the team be more successful and what she can do to be the best she can be.”

This kind of family support can also be found in a more homegrown situation. Sophomore pitcher and Chico native Brad Lohse grew up in a family full of sports and baseball.

Lohse said a lot of his influence in baseball came from his dad, John, and his cousin and Major League Baseball pitcher Kyle, who currently plays for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Although Lohse and his cousin don’t see each other a lot, Lohse said it’s a great experience getting to see his cousin pitch on the biggest of stages.

“We grew up a half-mile away from each other down on the farm,” Lohse said. “He graduated high school when I was four or five, so I didn’t know that much about him. But it’s awesome growing up watching your cousin that grew up right by you being successful in pros.”

And while it is great watching his cousin, one of the great family influences comes from back home. His father, who coached him in Little League, now helps out in college with key advice when he needs it.

“He was huge with helping me learn the game,” Lohse said. “Now, if I didn’t have a good practice, my dad will call and tell me to keep my head up, keep working hard, keep pushing.”

His father said that throughout Lohse’s baseball experience, he would never push his son. He would only play as long as he wanted to.

Now that Lohse is in college, his father tries to encourage that same mindset when he makes that phone call. He draws from his own experiences to help his son.

“When you’ve already gone through some of the things that he’s going through, you can encourage him and try to get him to enjoy it,” he said. “That’s the main thing: you’ve got to enjoy it. It’s got to be fun.”

Lohse said family was a main reason why he chose Chico State, aside from its strong history in baseball. He doesn’t have to go through that homesick feeling that he sees in teammates who, like Rebibo, are far away from family.

“Some people’s family come from LA for one weekend, when I can go home on a Wednesday night to see my family,” Lohse said.

Distance is really the only difference in Rebibo and Lohse’s relationships with their families. Both have grown up with great family influence in sports and both rely on them as a foundation for their collegiate careers.

“It’s everything,” Rebibo said. “They are my backbone, my support system. Some people don’t have families that accept them playing sports. Some families only want their kids to go to school. So, it means everything to have a support system behind me. It’s my motivation.”

Nick Woodard can be reached at [email protected] or @nwoodard25 on Twitter.

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