Killin’ cousins: Family connection paying off for Brandywine volleyball team

Published 5:30 am Friday, February 13, 2004

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- If there seems to be an unusual connection between Brandywine High School junior volleyball players Katie Tuohy and Emily Whitney, that's because there is.
The two are cousins and are coached by Emily's father, Gary.
The two are in their second year of competition together as members of the Brandywine varsity volleyball team, which is 17-12-9 overall and is a honorable mention in the latest Class C statewide rankings.
Emily began her high school career at Brandywine, but Katie attended Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind., as a freshman. It wasn't until the summer after their freshmen season that they started attending the same school.
Penn is one of the largest schools in Indiana, in fact.
Katie came into a good situation, as well, at Brandywine. The Bobcats had eight seniors on the team and wound up making their first ever trip to the state semifinals.
By the end of the season, Katie, who is six feet tall, found a spot in the rotation while Emily was handling the setting duties.
This season, things are a little different. Katie is the team's starting middle hitter while Emily has become a hitter. But for these cousins, it is kind of like old times.
It turned out to be the right decision because Emily earned All-State recognition her first two years at Brandywine, when she was the team's main setter.
With the emergence of senior Bridgett Mitchell as a solid setter this season, it has freed Emily up to be more of an offensive threat. She still sets part of the time, but is used mainly as a hitter. That is where the biggest adjustment has come for Katie.
The transition seems to be working out for the best as both Emily and Katie are consistently leading the team in kills, along with another junior, Nikki Cooper.
Volleyball is definitely a big part of family life for the Whitneys and the Tuohys. Katie's mother, Mary, was a high school volleyball player and now coaches club and junior high teams. Gary's involvement in volleyball, however, started a bit later in his life.
Gary and Mary have remained close to each other and their other siblings as well, giving the family plenty of time together.
And you can bet volleyball is often one of the family's favorite activities.
And while they're all part of the same family and three are part of the Brandywine volleyball team, there's still room for family rivalries.