Sloane Sunstrum got a pretty sweet deal coming into college.
The 5’ 11” athlete sharpened her volleyball skills from fourth grade on, securing the eyes of college scouts nationwide. Though she initially looked to attend an out-of-state school, she finally set her sights just down the road from her home in Southlake.
When TCU came knocking, Sloane was ready.
"TCU gave me an opportunity to do what I love and go to school at the same time," Sloane said. "It was the overall package for me."
If the university has been good to Sloane, she has been better to the university. She made her college debut four years ago against Arkansas, in a stunning performance that included a team high of four aces in the match.
Junior year she started all 32 matches, and with the Frogs' move to the Big 12, experienced players like Sloane are more valuable than ever.
But her senior year, something made the deal a bit sweeter: Her little sister joined her on the TCU volleyball team.
Sunstrum x 2
If not for the fact that she is two inches shorter than her sister, freshman Sutton Sunstrum could be Sloane's twin.
Though the sisters look alike, they said they could not be more different personality-wise.
Characteristically the opposite of Sloane, who describes herself as laid-back and shy, the younger Sunstrum labels herself a "go-getter" and someone who will do what she wants.
"We both bring two different things to the table," Sloane said. "I know she looks up to me, but I know I also look up to her."
Like her sister, Sutton started playing volleyball at a young age and said she has no reservations about following in Sloane's footsteps.
"She's older so I pretty much did every sport she did," Sutton said. "When she chose to get serious with volleyball, that's what I did."
Though the sisters both attended Southlake Carroll High School and played club volleyball, this year marks the first time they will play on the same team.
In high school, a rule requiring freshmen to play at the freshman level kept Sutton on the 9th-grade team while Sloane played varsity her senior year.
But the sisters certainly are not taking this year for granted.
“We both feel blessed to have this one year together playing because it's not something most people have the chance to do,” Sloane said.
For Sutton, having Sloane there to guide her made the transition from high school to college volleyball much easier.
“The best part [of college volleyball] is playing with her,” Sutton said. “You always have someone who has your back. She’s a teammate, but she’s my sister too, and my best friend.”
Purple Runs in the Family
Sloane and Sutton knew a little something about TCU athletics before the sisters joined the Lady Frogs. Their father, Spencer Sunstrum, ran track and played football at the university.
Despite his connection to the school, Sloane said her father’s past did not affect her or Sutton’s college plans.
“Both of my parents were really excited [to have us here],” Sloane said. “Neither of them pressured me to come here and none of us pressured my sister to come here, but they’re thrilled they get to have another 3 years here with her.”
Sloane and Sutton said their parents attend all the matches. Their mother graduated from SMU, “but we’ve about converted her,” Sloane said.
The sisters also have a little brother, Spencer. Sloane said although her brother runs track at his high school, he will focus on academics in college; he plans to attend OU for petroleum engineering.
Sutton is just getting into the swing of college, navigating through her first college classes and leaning toward a business major. Luckily, she knows just who to look to for guidance.
“[Sloane] won’t necessarily tell me to do something, but I’ll know what I’m supposed to do because I’ve seen her go through it,” Sutton said.
Even though classes and practice demand much of the sisters’ time, Sloane said it does not interfere with their friendship.
“We’re both busy, but we still get dinner together and hang out every chance that we get,” Sloane said.
Next year, Sloane plans on pursuing her master’s degree in accounting at TCU. She has an internship with Deloitte scheduled for spring, putting her well on her way to achieving her career goals.
Though she will not be eligible to play volleyball after this season, Sloane will be there to support Sutton this season.
“I’ll be at all of the games that I can,” Sloane said.