Close is an understatement to describe the connection between twin sisters Nicki and Sami Linberg. On the way home from a basketball scrimmage their freshman year, they were rear ended by a semi truck. Sami was hospitalized for weeks, losing sight in her right eye. As Nicki continued to play that season, she would bring stories from the court to Sami's hospital bed.
Nicki Linberg :
"I think we got closer in that, because we were always helping each other out and making sure we were both doing the same thing"
Determined to play again, the two worked as teammates at home to develop Sami's depth perception.
"we played catch with a foam ball because the depth perception was gone. And then we went outside and we started playing catch with a basketball and a softball. And we spent a lot of hours out there trying to get it back so she could actually do the stuff."
"the depth perception of the basket, that took awhile to get back into that, a couple of air balls...Quite few air balls."
The upbeat pair would face another obstacle the following year, when Nicki tore her ACL. But after going through the first battle with Sami, a torn ACL seemed minimal to the loss of an eye.
"i don't even know how she does it. Cause its hard playing basketball with two eyes let alone one. Just the whole sight, crazy."
Just playing for the Mounders isn't enough for Nicki and Sami. The two are in the starting line up and have left a powerful message that goes beyond the game of basketball.
Kristi lane (teammate):
"knowing that now she starts on our varsity squad, and coming back into it and not giving up and she's one of the best shooters on our team now too so its pretty great."
Jordan Kongshaug (head coach)
"they've been through so much adversity that you know a basketball practice or game is really nothing, sometimes as a coach and as a player you feel like that's everything. They know, they got their priorities pretty straight."
The twins hope to apply their positive outlook of life to their next challenge, separating for college in the fall. Sami will attend CVTC and Nicki will head off to Winona state but the girls believe their bond can't be broken.
"It will be new not being compared to her all the time, but it's going to be really sad because i tell her everything. It will be interesting we wont really know how it feels til it actually happens, it will be kind of lonely by ourselves...But we'll get through it..."