Friday, November 16, 2007
In the span of a few seconds, Kansas University sophomore safety Darrell Stuckey's face can shift from football-serious to sporting a mile-wide smile.
The topic that produces this change? His sister.
Stuckey's sister, Denae, is a sophomore point guard for Iowa State's women's basketball team. Although the Cyclones are the Jayhawks' opponent on the football field Saturday, the support the siblings gives to each other cuts through the school ties and is kept strictly in the family.
"We don't talk about football or rivalries or anything like that," Stuckey said. "She watches the games and roots for me individually, even though she's at Iowa State. She doesn't feel torn at all."
Stuckey and his sister are 11 months apart in age, which allowed them to form a strong bond when they were young.
"I'd have to say she was my best friend growing up," Stuckey said. "I love her to death. We leaned on each other a lot. And coming from a single-parent family, if I wanted to go anywhere, she was going with me."
Aside from the admiration Stuckey has as a big brother, he also recognizes the strengths Denae possesses as an athlete in her own right.
He pointed out that his younger sister has speed, basketball smarts and on one occasion the 5-foot-8 guard led the team in rebounding.
But he came back to an attribute that both have in common when it comes to the sports they play.
"She loves to play defense," Stuckey said. "It's funny when you watch her play basketball, she kind of plays defense the same way I play defense. It's like she's out there playing center field or free safety."
In addition to lending support for his sister on the court, Stuckey also lent some advice to the Butler Community College transfer concerning her initial experience in the elevated Big 12 sports environment.
"When she first came into it, I told her there are no breaks," Stuckey said. "There's no time to rest. The whole pace of the game is different and that the biggest change is that everything is faster. You won't have time to react or think; it has to be natural to you."
And while Denae supports her brother when it comes to football, when it comes to the sport his sister plays, Stuckey displays his support quite often. In fact he showed his support at a KU women's basketball game by painting his face with Jayhawk colors.
Asked if he would paint his face Cyclone colors when his sister visited Allen Fieldhouse later this season, Stuckey relented on his support.
But only a little.
"I don't know," Stuckey said. "It'll probably have to be divided. KU and Iowa State colors."