January 16, 2022
Sister(s) vs. Sister: A special matchup between La Salle and Saint Joseph’s
Basketball is a family affair for the Jacobs and Jekot sisters
Amy and Claire Jacobs grew up 11,610 miles from Philadelphia in Perth, Australia. Julie and Katie Jekot grew up 96 miles from Philadelphia in Enola, Pa.
On Jan. 17, the pair of sisters will meet on the court for the first time. Amy, Claire and Julie will suit up for La Salle while Katie will suit up for Atlantic 10 and Big Five rival, Saint Joseph’s.
The Jacobs sisters, who are currently juniors at La Salle, started playing basketball at age nine and have been playing together for more than a decade.
When it came time to explore the prospect of playing collegiate basketball Amy and Claire used a recruiting company that reached out to La Salle head coach Mountain MacGillivray.
Though the Explorers coaching staff was looking for post players, the Jacobs sisters caught their eye. After confirming both big wings were okay with being asked to rebound and defend bigger players, MacGillivray said, “The rest was history.”
He added, “We got to know them. And they decided they wanted to come to La Salle because it was an opportunity for them both to play together. And there was a real opportunity on our roster to play right away. And they jumped at that chance.”
While Amy and Claire were open to playing at different schools, their dad had a rule that they had to go to a school together.
“He wanted us, because we were so far away from home, to be together,” Claire told The Next. “And I think I like that better now after we came. And the experience is way more enjoyable now that we’re together.”
Being together made the transition as freshmen easier.
“It’s so different to anything back home,” Claire said. “The amount of basketball we were playing. The amount of scout and film and even the duration of games. It was just such a long season. I think mentally being so far away from our family, to have her here was amazing.”
Amy added, “It definitely made it easier with emotional support, her being here. Because you can FaceTime your family and friends as much as you want. But it’s not the same as having someone here, being able to actually have a conversation where it’s face-to-face.”
Amy’s favorite part about playing with her twin sister is simple.
“I like when I throw the ball and she catches it,” she said with a laugh. More seriously, Amy added, “That’s the good part. She’s just always where I need her to be when I do something.”
3Q 7:46 – Claire Jacobs ties it up with a shot from deep! pic.twitter.com/F7EY6w9Qsm— La Salle Women’s Basketball (@LaSalle_WBB) December 4, 2021
Claire gave a similar answer, saying, “I like it because, usually, if something bad does happen, she’s always just there. I don’t know how she just knows, but she’s there.”
They both believe that having your sister there all the time is both a positive and a negative.
“Someone’s always going to hold you accountable,” Amy said. “If you do something bad your coach will hold you accountable. But a lot of the time some things can slide within your team and they won’t say something to you because they’ll think you’ll get it on the next one. But if you do it bad and your twin sees she’s going to call you out straight away. She’s not going to wait for the next play for you to try and fix it.”
Claire added, “I think that it’s a positive because we play a lot of minutes together. And we know how each other plays. So we, even before things happen, instinctively without us knowing, we know where the other person’s going to be or what they’re going to do.”
After playing with her sister for more than a decade Amy can tell when Claire’s shot is going in and when it’s not. Though she admitted Claire sometimes surprises her.
Playing basketball and going to school with your twin sister does come with disagreements.
“We’re very competitive and very opinionated,” Amy said.
“And very emotional,” Claire added.
“And emotional,” Amy continued. “So I’m going to say things and call her out on things that not a lot of other people will because I know that she’s going to come and yell back at me. But we’re both never going to go anywhere, no matter what we say to each other. So it gives us a little bit more freedom to be harsh … I think it’s in a good way too, though. We make each other work so hard sometimes, that it’s beneficial.”
The Jacobs sisters believe they’re able to push each other to get better, in part because they’re able to talk both on and off the court.
“We can have talks at the end of the day where if she doesn’t think I pulled my weight, she will let me know about it,” Claire said. “But in a way where I’m not going to take offense with what she says.”
MacGillivray noted there’s a rivalry between Amy and Claire.
“There’s definitely more bickering between the two of them than any two other players on the court,” he said. “I don’t know that it leads to a productivity increase. But they do really find one another on the court when they’re playing together.”
Amy and Claire are glad they don’t have to play against each other.
“She’s a pain to try and defend. And I don’t like it. So I try to avoid it.”
The sisters don’t usually go up against each other in practice, but on the rare occasion they do, Amy noted it gets very competitive.
“It gets heated,” Amy said. “We don’t like losing, especially to one another.”
Claire is currently averaging 11.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while Amy averages 6.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
MacGillivray believes that the Jacobs sisters have pushed each other to get better.
“[Amy’s] become one of our best on-ball defenders, our best lockdown defenders,” MacGillivray said. “She’s found a way to make herself really important and really valuable. And they have become a really great compliment.”
He added, “And as Claire gets better defending and Amy gets better scoring, our whole team gets better … They try to work on not worrying about how their sister is performing. They’re worrying about how they’re doing and how we’re doing as a team.”
While Julie hasn’t mentioned the upcoming matchup against Katie to Amy and Claire, they know Julie will want to beat her sister, but it won’t be easy.
“I feel like it’s definitely going to be competitive,” Amy said. “I know seeing Julie practice with us day in and day out. She works really hard and she doesn’t like losing the drills the same way that we don’t like losing the drills. So I definitely think there’s going to be some sibling rivalry there.”
While Amy and Claire are in their third year playing together for the Explorers, Julie is a freshman getting ready to suit up against her older sister for the first time.
Julie and Katie have been looking forward to this game since Julie committed to La Salle in the fall of 2019.
“It means a lot being able to finally get to play against her,” Julie said. “…It’s been like two years [that] we’ve been talking about this game, waiting for this game. I think it’s going to be pretty special.”
For Katie, a graduate student at Saint Joseph’s, it’s a different viewpoint after being linked to her sister Kelly, who is one year older than her, for most of her life.
The Jekot sisters are no stranger to basketball. Julie and Katie’s father played basketball at Lock Haven, and their older sister Kelly plays at Penn State while their younger sister Jill is a sophomore in high school and has already received numerous scholarship offers.
Katie started playing basketball when she was eight, while Julie cannot remember a time where she didn’t play the sport.
Growing up Julie and Katie were never on the same team, being four years apart, but have fond memories of playing family 3-on-3 games.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought all four Jekot sisters home together for the first extended period in years.
“It definitely brought back a lot of memories because we haven’t been like that in a while just because they obviously have crazy schedules,” Julie said. “We’re never even home all at the same time. So it was really fun to just be able to get back at it.”
In between family games of Knockout Julie was able to learn about being a college basketball student-athlete from Katie and Kelly while she was still in high school.
“Kelly and I got workouts from our strength coach and even from our basketball coaches,” Katie said. “So we were able to take her into those workouts and she did them with us. And we were on our driveway doing little lifting workouts. We put a whole mini gym in our garage … So we put her through some of that … It was good for her to see what a real college workout looks like, just so she was prepared for when she got to La Salle.”
In addition, Katie, more recently, was able to help Julie through the mental transition of not only playing at the Division I level, but also playing in the A-10.
“It is draining, especially in the preseason when there’s no games,” Julie said. “It’s practice after practice, and you’re in classes. So I would always talk to her about it, and she’s like ‘It’s going to get better, all of your hard work is going to start paying off.’”
While her efforts have not reflected on the box score, so far, Julie has seen action in all 14 games this season and averages 1.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.2 minutes per game.
When not playing games of their own, Julie and Katie try to make it to each other’s games.
This season, Katie is averaging 10.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game for the Hawks.
Julie grew up going to her sisters’ games and took the opportunity to mold how she plays after her sisters.
She described Katie as a “feisty point guard” and added “She doesn’t stop. She’s just go go go, so very high energy. And on defense, she will not let anyone score on her. That’s her mentality. She really takes a lot of pride in her defense.”
Katie on the other hand described Julie as a really good three-point shooter.
“She can knock down open shots and then she just does the little things,” Katie said. “She’ll go and look for steals, she’ll go and get offensive boards. She’s just a player you want to have on your team to go out there and work really hard for you.”
Off the court, Julie and Katie have had more time to spend together, being just a handful of miles away from each other at their respective colleges. From Qdoba trips to shopping to Julie shopping in Katie’s closet, the sisters can bond between their busy schedules.
For Julie, the constant support, the knowledge that her sisters know what she’s going through and the companionship in the basketball journey are her favorite parts of being a member of a basketball family. In addition, she appreciates the competitiveness within the family, because it pushes them to get better.
Katie shares that competitive, family-centered view.
“Kelly was at Villanova so just all being part of Philly basketball has been really fun,” Katie said. “And just getting to see each other play and do well is probably the best part about all of it.”
In addition to wanting to win to improve their team’s record, Julie and Katie want to defeat their sister.
“I think it’s definitely important that we win this game,” Katie said. “One, not only because I’m older and I don’t need her talking in my ear after the game. But two, it will be a big win for our team.”
A win will improve the Hawks to 3-1 in the Big Five, in addition to giving the team a win in-conference.
Julie also sees the value in winning beyond a family rivalry, but added: “Since my sister is on the team, I definitely would have to have a few digs if we won the game.”
The two pairs of sisters are scheduled to take the court on Jan. 17 at noon EST.
Written by Natalie Heavren
Natalie Heavren has been a contributor to The Next since February 2019 and currently writes about the Atlantic 10 conference, the WNBA and the WBL.
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