PHOENIX – When twin sisters Laura and Sydney Erikstrup last played together, they were seniors at Beaverton High School near Portland. They figured it might be the last time.
Laura, a 6-foot-2 forward, was headed to the University of San Diego. Sydney, a 6-foot-1 guard, had signed with Arizona State.
“You take it for granted when you no longer can play with someone you’ve grown up with,” Laura said. “Up until we were 18, we were side by side. I still remember the feeling when we played our last high school game together.”
Now, the Erickstrups are getting a second chance to experience the special bond that only twins can share after transferring to Grand Canyon University. Both entered the transfer portal as graduate students and decided to sign with the Lopes.
And after suiting up for the Danish National Team in the summer, it’s just like old times again for the twins at GCU as the Lopes prepare to open the season Monday against St. Mary’s at GCU Arena. The Lopes visit North Dakota Saturday, and on Nov. 16 they play host to Oregon in a game the twins, who were born in Portland, undoubtedly have circled on the schedule.
Meanwhile, their connection remains as strong on the court – and off – as it has ever been.
“You can’t take away the time we spent working on every little detail of the game,” Sydney said. “I’ll throw some passes, and she’s not quite in her spot yet, but I just know she’s going to get there.”
Laura, of course, knows the feeling.
“I can just gauge when Syd is going to throw a pass and know where to be,” she said. “I think, recently, it has been super fun being back on the court and just knowing what Syd is about to do.”
Their move to GCU has also simplified life for the rest of the family. The Erickstrup sisters have a younger brother, Dane, who plays basketball at Eastern Washington. When the girls were at different schools, their father relied on computer software to keep track of everybody’s schedules and make plans to watch all the siblings play.
“My dad actually has an Excel spreadsheet of every game for the last three years,” Laura said. “That’s how he keeps track of which games are where. If Sydney had a home game, our parents would go there. But if Syd was on the road, they would split between Dane and I.
“They always joke, in the offseason, how boring it is because there are no games to watch. They are on the road just as much as we are, all to watch their kids.”
The sisters said their tight-knit family is bound through basketball.
“It’s pretty cool for my family,” Sydney said. “There is a lot of excitement around coming to basketball games, and for Laura and I, just being able to play together again … that was a big goal and dream if we could make it work. And we were able to figure it out.”
With three years of experience in college, the sisters have quickly fit into Grand Canyon coach Molly Miller’s system.
“Their energy and can-do attitude really makes it easy to coach them,” Miller said. “They’re both able to take coaching extremely well, which is something that will definitely bode well for them because they can build trust with us so quickly.”
Miller added that the twins are good teammates that the rest of the Lopes have embraced because of their positivity and work ethic.
“They’re in the gym all the time,” she said. “They have a work ethic that exceeds a lot of expectations and work extremely hard every time they step on the court.
“They are great additions to this team. The team has high expectations this year, but I have no doubt that they will help us reach our goals.”
The Erickstrups credit their parents for their work ethic.
Laura said she got started in basketball because her mother put her and Sydney in “just about any sport you could imagine,” but chose to stick with basketball because it was the most engaging.
She added that her father is her biggest role model in life because of his past.
“Our father came here from Denmark and created a whole new life for our family,” she said. “And he is the epitome of what I want my family to be one day. He is the mirror image of what hard work and dedication can do for you.”
“Our family is super close, but the life he created for our family is inspirational. It shows you the importance of family,” she said.
Over the summer, the Erikstrup twins had a chance to appreciate their heritage when they played for the Danish National Team, an experience they agreed was unforgettable.
“It was really cool,” Sydney said. “We heard about a potential opportunity, but it was one of those things we didn’t want to get our hopes up because you don’t know who will be picked. We got to go play in Japan, which was an experience of a lifetime.”
The twins are also on the same page about their favorite aspect of playing for GCU this year.
“The best part of this team is the group of girls I get to call my team,” Laura said. “GCU does a tremendous job when it comes to rallying around athletics, and it has been amazing to see so many people willing to be a part of something greater than themselves.”
Sydney said she loves her new team.
“The team dynamics here are truly special,” she said. “This team truly is like sisters. We are always texting each other. It is really cool what we have going here, really special.”