Sept. 16, 2009
Story by John Gragnola
Following in the footsteps of parents who were successful in athletics is never an easy feat. The pressures of living up to the high standards of your parents can sometimes seem overwhelming, not just in sports, but in life as well. Coming from a household where both parents were standouts in their respective sports can be a burden, but for some like twins Samantha and Steve Selsky, it can help them move to even greater heights.
Samantha Selsky is a redshirt-freshman on the volleyball team at Santa Clara University. She graduated from Marymount High School in Manhattan Beach, California after winning the league title each year, CIF titles from 2005 to 2007 and a state title in 2007. She was also named first team all-league all four years of high school. Her twin brother Steve is a sophomore season at the University of Arizona. He was named a High School All-American in baseball and helped his team win the CIF title in 2007. His raw power and ability to hit to all parts of the field helped earn him a spot in the International Home Run Derby at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida where he represented California and finished in fourth place.
Steve had a successful freshman season at Arizona. He had the fifth-highest batting average on the team at .318 and the second highest slugging percentage at .541. He went 47 for 148 with 36 runs, 7 home runs, and 21 runs batted in for the Wildcats who finished fifth in the Pac-10 standings in 2009.
Injuries forced Samantha to redshirt her freshman season in 2008. She tore her ACL for the second time last year a few months before she came to college. She hopes to finish her rehab and get back out on the court to make an impact on a Bronco team that looks win the West Coast Conference title and make the NCAA Tournament for the 12th straight year.
Both of the Selskys know how lucky they were to grow up with parents who had been through what they are going through now. "I admired my mom and dad very much," said Steve. "Hearing all the stories about them back in their day. Stories about my mom playing volleyball at Long Beach and the national team; and stories about my dad playing baseball back in the day with some big name guys - it just made me so grateful for growing up under their watch."
Steve and Samantha's father, Steve Sr., was standout baseball player in high school. He was signed out of high school in 1961 with the L.A. Dodgers. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox to its major league roster in 1961 and was eventually called up to the major league team. Injuries eventually forced him to retire in 1965.
Their mother, Lou Ann Selsky, played volleyball for Cal State Long Beach. The team won the National Championship in 1973 with an undefeated season after the team was runner-up in 1972. She was also a member of the U.S. World University Games team that participated in Russia and four years later was part of the coaching staff of U.S. World University Games team in Bulgaria.
Both parents helped coach Steve and Samantha when they were growing up. "I coached Steve through little league then let him go," said Steve Sr. "Baseball is a game of ups and downs. Keeping yourself balanced is always helpful knowing you will have good days and not so good days. I think this is one of Steve's best attributes. He is a much better ball player than I ever was."
Lou Ann coached Samantha when she was younger then got to enjoy watching her grow as a player. "I hope I helped her find something she loved to do and would enjoy the rest of her life. I think having older sisters playing the game made it more fun and something to look forward to when she got older. She has moved on to other coaches and now I enjoy just being her mom."
Not only were their parents star athletes in their time, older sisters Shana and Stesha were great volleyball players in high school as well. Shana won a state title and Stesha was able to win four state titles. Stesha went on to a successful career at Michigan where she became the schools all time digs leader. The success of her older sisters had a strong effect on Sam when she was growing up. "When I was little I would go to practice with my sisters because my mom was their coach and she would give me jerseys with my name on the back so I was part of the team," said Samantha. "They would try to motivate me more than coach me. In high school Stesha won four state championships and was MVP of state twice and has had a lot of success. She made it to the sweet 16 once so that is one thing I could beat her to."
Like most twins, Samantha and Steve have a connection that sometimes they can't even wrap their heads around. Not only do they send each others text messages at the same time, they both got the exact same score on the SATs. Other strange happenings have also occurred in their sports. "Two years ago on March 31, I hurt my knee," said Samantha. "I found out on April Fools Day that I tore my ACL and nobody believed me. I went to my brother's baseball game that day and he fouled a ball off of his eye and cut his eye open. Nobody believed that either of us got hurt even though he had to go to the hospital and get his head wrapped. We were sitting on the couch that night and he couldn't see and I couldn't walk. It was a strange day."
There was a small chance that Samantha and Steve would go to the same college. "I was a junior in High School when I decided to come to Santa Clara," said Samantha. "I knew they had a good baseball team here so there was a chance Steve might come here too. If that was our first priority I think it could have happened but I think that Arizona was a better fit for him."
Even though they are a few hundred miles away, they still keep in close contact. "I would say me and my sister are indeed very close, we know pretty much everything that is going on between each others lives," said Steve. "I try to catch up with her as much as possible. I look out for her a little bit."
Their bond may extend to their professional careers after college. Like his father, Steve aspires to play in the major leagues. "I am going to major in kinesiology and minor in business. After I graduate I hope to be playing professional baseball." If Steve is going to make it to the major leagues, it will be with his father by his side giving him advice. "Ever since I was little he has taught me everything he knows. It is at a point now where he can say two words and I already know what he is going to say. I just nod my head and listen because he is always right in the end. It is a huge benefit to have the insight of someone who has been through what I am going through, especially because he is my dad. I don't have to go too far to get a question answered."
Samantha's future career may also lie in professional baseball. "I'm pretty sure I'm going to major in psychology, but after I think I want to go back to school and do something with kinesiology and psychology and maybe become a sports psychologist. I think it would be cool to be a sports psychology for a professional sports team or a pro baseball team that my brother plays on. I would like to stay close to my brother and I think it would be cool to work where he works."
No matter what the future holds for Samantha and Steve they will still have the unbreakable bonds with each other to rely on. "I take a lot of pride in calling him my twin," said Samantha. "I sometimes ask myself W.W.S.D. (What Would Steve Do?) because I know he works hard at everything and always plays to win."
With the Selskys, it's all in the family.