They have been playing together for so long, almost nobody can imagine them apart.
Jordan and Danielle Cummings are getting set to wrap up their high school careers in a couple of weeks before setting off to play soccer for Ashford University starting this fall. The local soccer pitch is going to be a lot different when that happens.
As the Redskins get set to play out the season, Danielle agreed to engage the Morris Daily Herald in a question and answer session.
Q. When did you start playing soccer and what drew you to the sport?
A. I started playing soccer when I was 6. My parents thought we would enjoy it, so they signed us up. Back then, we lived in Coal City, so we started off playing with a lot of the girls who now play for Coal City High School.
Q. OK, everyone knows by now how (Danielle's stepfather and Morris Community High School coach) Jeff (Hunt) started coaching you and Jordan when you were little. Do you have any early memories of playing for him at the onset that you can share?
A. I remember practicing with my dad in our backyard. It would be my sister and I against my dad. He taught us how to use each other in a 2-on-1 situation. We would spend all night just playing soccer outside with him. I really enjoyed spending that time with him.
Q. What other sports have you played over the years beside basketball?
A. I participated in volleyball and cheerleading when I was in junior high. When I got into high school I had to make a decision, either play volleyball in the fall or soccer. In the end, I decided to keep playing soccer.
Q. What are your earliest athletic memories, either playing the sport of soccer or any other that involve being on the field, like scoring a big goal or winning a league title?
A. The first year we played in Morris both of my dads, Jeff and Mike, coached us. We made it to the championship game in the MSA fall tournament. Our opponent was Coal City; they were also our biggest rivals. The game ended in a shootout. Unfortunately, I cannot remember who had made any of the goals in the shootout for our Brandt’s team. But, it was my turn to shoot and I made the shot. That won us the game and the tournament.
Q. You and Jordan have been playing sports together for the longest time now. Tell me about being on the same team as her, and what kind of teammate is she?
A. Playing with my sister has been a great experience. Over the many years we have played together we have gotten to know how each other play. People tell us that we have twin telepathy when they see us play together. Having Jordan on my team forces me to always go 100 percent. She is always there to push me and support me.
Q. Are you yet getting the sense that your high school career is about over, and what does that mean to you?
A. This season is very important to me. It will be the last time I will play for my high school and it will be the last time I will play for my dad. There are some girls on the team that I have been playing with since MSA days, and after this spring, I will never be able to play soccer with them again. We have shared the same passion for this sport and I will miss them. Then there is my dad. He has been coaching me for a very, very long time. My friends and I used to joke that he has to coach us in high school and in college because he has always coached us. Knowing that this will be the last time he will be standing on the sidelines with me makes me wish that this season would never end.
Q. What would you like to see happen for the Redskins, either personally or as a team, before the bell tolls on the season?
A. My goal for this team is to leave a mark in MCHS history by ending the season with the winningest record. Last season we were one win away from completing this goal, so I hope we can accomplish it this season. We also are hosting the regional for the first time this year. It would be amazing to win a regional at home. It will be tough, but it is obtainable. Personally, I want to make All-Conference and All-Area again this year.
Q. You guys are going to Ashford University and are going to play soccer there. Can you recap that process for us in a nutshell and tell me what you are looking forward to the most about the transition?
A. My sister and I visited eight different colleges to play for and attend. Our last college visit was to Ashford University. We knew right away that this was our college. The players on their women’s soccer team were very accepting right away. I am very excited about playing with them this coming fall. Also, at Ashford the men's and women’s soccer team are popular with the student body and the community. I am very eager to be a part of the soccer team next year.
Q. What do you think it will take to play soccer at the collegiate level?
A. I think it will take hard work and dedication to play college soccer. I know that it is going to be harder than any other sport I have participated in, but it will be worth it. We will roll right into the soccer program’s workout as soon we complete this season. It will be intense but I am looking forward to get going on it.
Q. Finally, if a fifth grade girl from town came up to you and asked for your advice on being a successful athlete at MCHS, what would your advice to them be?
A. First off, the most important thing is that they need to make sure their grades are a priority. Being an honors student and a National Honor Society member, my grades are really what made some coaches take notice. Every college coach that I was recruited by was impressed with my grades first and my athletic abilities second. If you can prove yourself academically, it shows the coaches you are teachable. I made the decision to play travel soccer in sixth grade. That opportunity of learning the physicality of soccer and the technical training is something that made me a better player. My coaches, Senad and Allen at Chicago Inter Homer Glen Soccer Club, taught me so much more about the game. Their club’s reputation opened the door for me with college coaches. My goal in every game is to leave a lasting impression on the other team and that the other team’s coach remembers whom I am. You have practice and play 100 percent all of the time. You always play with no regrets because you will never know when it could be your last game.