Three years ago, Edwardsville sisters Abigail and Jane Ann Crabtree decided to start an organization to mentor and educate girls about the sport of soccer.
It was called the Sisterhood of Soccer.
“One day, we thought about what we have and what others don’t have and how lucky we are,” said Jane Ann, a freshman at Illinois Wesleyan University. “We wanted to have the capability of giving back to others for what we’ve been given, so that’s how we came up with this because soccer is one of our favorite things. Of course, we sisters are really important and you can create great relationships with people who aren’t blood-related and (are) still considered sisters.”
On Oct. 6, the Crabtree sisters will receive a big award for their efforts in the Sisterhood of Soccer organization. They were named this year’s recipients of the Bob Emig Foundation’s Todd Bruns Award and they will be honored at the Bob Emig Foundation Celebrating Leaders in Youth Sports event at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis.
“We are beyond excited,” said Abigail, a senior at Edwardsville High. “We really didn’t expect it.”
Jane Ann can’t make it to the ceremony because of a prior commitment with the Illinois Wesleyan women’s soccer team.
“We tried to get her coach to let her go to the banquet, but she felt an obligation to be there as a freshman, which is OK,” Abigail said. “I told her I’ll take the reins. It’s hard letting go.”
The 17-year-old Abigail plans to make a speech at the ceremony.
“That makes me a little more nervous because she (Jane Ann) is my rock,” Abigail said. “Now since she can’t be there, that makes me very nervous.”
Jane Ann said even though she can’t attend, she’s thrilled her younger sister will be making a speech.
“I’m so proud of her,” Jane Ann said. “She has grown to be such an independent woman and just working with her makes it a thousand times better and makes us closer. It helps us appreciate what we have and what others don’t have.”
The Bob Emig Foundation is named after the late sports journalist and coach. Emig worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, KMOX Radio and the Suburban Journals, and coached youth baseball, basketball and soccer.
Emig’s son, Aaron, started the Bob Emig Foundation in 2004.
The Todd Bruns award is named after an athlete Emig coached in soccer. The Crabtrees found out they got the award during the summer.
“It’s amazing,” Jane Ann said. “We definitely were not expecting it. To experience it with my sister makes it so much better. It’s so exciting and there are really no words to explain how I feel.”
Abigail and Jane Ann founded the Sisterhood of Soccer organization in 2013. Jane Ann was age 15 and Abigail was 14.
“We began brainstorming on what can we do to give back and what we can do to help out the community,” Abigail said. “The name Sisterhood of Soccer started flowing into the picture. We talked to a wrestling coach here at Edwardsville High School and he got in touch with a few people who had connections to the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center. So we got into touch with them and we were able to begin our journey with the Sisterhoods of Soccer organization.”
The next year, the Sisterhood of Soccer organization held its first soccer camp in August 2014 at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center. About 15 girls attended the camp.
“We reached out to these girls and we typically have the same girls back every year to our camps and we developed a very good bond to these girls,” Abigail said. “We’ve become very close to the JJK Center.”
Last spring, Abigail and Jane Ann turned in solid seasons with the Edwardsville girls’ soccer team. Both players earned first-team all-Southwestern Conference honors and helped the Tigers win 18 matches and share the conference championship with Collinsville.
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