Ciana and Romea Riccardo are used to hearing the phrase, "Oh, that's a Riccardo." In Downingtown, Pennsylvania, having long brown hair and a field hockey stick makes you easily recognizable as a member of the big Riccardo family. The sisters are just two of their eight siblings — and the eldest three all play field hockey at the Division I level.
Ciana, a first-year, and Romea, a sophomore, have recently become part of a legacy of sibling pairs in North Carolina's distinguished field hockey history.
UNC head coach Karen Shelton has coached over 10 pairs of sisters during her tenure at UNC, and she embraces the trend. For Shelton, the high number of younger siblings following in their older sisters' footsteps is a testament to the culture of the field hockey program and the University as a whole.
The Riccardo sisters aren't the only duo from eastern Pennsylvania to come down to the Southern part of heaven to play field hockey. The Brill sisters, from Oley, Pennsylvania, both played in Chapel Hill and won two championships together in 2007 and 2009. Melanie and Teryn Brill, now Teryn Brill Galloway, credit their time in Chapel Hill for not only starting a lifelong passion for the game — they both coach and Teryn works for USA Field Hockey — but also for growing their relationship.
'Two peas in a pod'
Teryn and Ciana, the younger sisters in their families, were drawn to field hockey, and eventually UNC, because of their older sisters' experiences.
"They've definitely made me love it even more because seeing them succeed and have fun and be with friends and take all the next steps like committing to colleges it's made me be like, 'Oh my God, that's so cool. I want to be just like them,'" Ciana said.
Initially, she started playing the game because it was a fun family activity; she never imagined she'd eventually be competing at UNC alongside her sister. During Ciana's recruiting process, Romea focused on supporting the best decision for Ciana. But she made sure her sister knew she'd be welcomed "with open arms" in Chapel Hill.
Before verbally committing to North Carolina, Ciana kept her intention to become a Tar Heel secret from her sister. She called Shelton during a family vacation at the beach to make her commitment official first. Romea was ecstatic, running across the kitchen to hug her sister when she came downstairs to share the news with her family.