“We’re practically the same person,” say the Smith sisters of Linfield’s women’s golf team.
Lydia and Alexandria—who is known to her friends as Ali and her sister as Al—find themselves in a unique situation. Though they have a lot in common, sharing a background in Bellingham, Wash., and having experienced successful high school golf careers, these two sisters are hardly the same.
Lydia, the oldest of four siblings, says she chose Linfield for most of the usual reasons: It’s a small college on a beautiful campus, away from home but not too far away. She remembers being impressed with the Linfield golf team and the women’s coach at the time.
Two years later, Ali graduated from high school and also chose Linfield. “It just fit,” she says, adding that she felt comfortable on Linfield’s campus and at home with its student body because of visits with her older sister.
Since both girls golfed at Bellingham High School, they have very similar mindsets and almost identical practice styles. They say it’s nice to have someone on the team who wants to work on something the same way and who is focused on the same things.
Both girls have taken to heart their high school coach’s slogan, “anchor the good.” Ali habitually emphasizes the positive and maintains an optimistic outlook. Lydia, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, likes to visualize success. One of their favorite sayings is simple: “You can do it!”
“They are a lot alike in the things they say or do,” says Wildcat coach Brian Trowbridge, who notes their mannerisms are almost identical at times but their personalities are far from the same.
On the golf course, the sisters’ differences show through right away. “Lydia gets caught up in the moment sometimes, sort of anxious,” Trowbridge says. “Ali is more laid-back; she’s more relaxed.”
Lydia readily admits she is more emotional than her sister.
“Ali has a much better mental game. I can get really worked up,” says Lydia, thankful to have her sister close by to understand and comfort her. “Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by the pressure and break down.”
Trowbridge chuckles when he describes some other idiosyncrasies, especially Lydia’s need to have her golf bag full of enough water and snacks for the round.
The girls’ coach says repeatedly that he’s very proud of both sisters. “They have both worked hard and both improved. I think Lydia has improved more than anybody. Her attitude has been great this fall.”
Golfing has always been a family experience for the Smith sisters. The girls’ grandfather, Ben Bengen, is a big part of their lives, teaching them to always work hard and earn their own successes. Lydia and Ali say he is someone they look up to. Lydia especially remembers that he taught her to golf when she was in elementary school.
After growing up side-by-side, surrounded by relatives and with a family history in the Bellingham area, the sisters now find themselves far from home with only each other to lean on. “We’re close…closer now than we were in high school,” says Ali.
Trowbridge says it’s “refreshing” to have the two of them on a team together. “They’re competitive, but not against one another. There’s no sibling rivalry. They really cheer each other on and always wish each other luck. You can see that they really enjoy [being on a team together].”
From a purely athletic point of view, the sisters’ skills have progressed markedly over the course of the fall season, which culminated in Linfield’s fourth-place finish at the Northwest Conference’s Fall Classic last weekend. The girls and their coach have an optimistic outlook and are excited to see what the spring will hold. Ali is growing into a solid member of the team and has a bright future ahead of her. Lydia, an accounting major, graduates in May and is especially eager to do her best during her final season at Linfield.
The two are in a remarkable position, being simultaneously siblings, teammates and friends. Yet their situation also highlights the differences between them. These girls are hardly the same and they seem to be the better for it.
“They’re both great girls,” their coach says. That alone is a good trait to have in common.
-- Lexy Chapman '15
Lydia and Alexandria Smith
Two of Linfield's top golfers
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128