All in the family

As part of a Somer­ton blen­ded fam­ily com­posed of 10 sib­lings, these sis­ters know all too well what it's like to also be part of a bas­ket­ball fam­ily.

(L to R) Arch­bish­op Wood’s Colleen Young, Taylor Kam­in­ski and Jess Kam­in­ski pose for a photo pri­or to a game against Fri­ere Charter in the first round of the AAA State Tour­na­ment on Wed­nes­day, Feb­ru­ary 29, 2012 at Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School. Kev­in Cook / for the Times


Years down the line when she and her sib­lings have their own fam­il­ies, Taylor Kam­in­ski fully ex­pects to have to rent a hall to hold fam­ily gath­er­ings. By that point, they might need name tags to keep track of every­body.

Kam­in­ski, a Somer­ton res­id­ent and seni­or mem­ber of the Arch­bish­op Wood girls bas­ket­ball team, knows all too well what it’s like to be part of a hoops fam­ily. She and her sis­ter, sopho­more Jes­sica, play bas­ket­ball for the Vik­ings, as does Colleen Young, their step­sister and a ju­ni­or at the school. The three young wo­men are part of a blen­ded fam­ily that con­sists of an eye-pop­ping 10 sib­lings, most of whom play or have played bas­ket­ball.

Fran Young, the fam­ily pat­ri­arch, runs the Somer­ton Youth Or­gan­iz­a­tion and has been coach­ing his large brood for as long as he can re­mem­ber.

If you have trouble keep­ing track of the Kam­in­ski/Young fam­ily tree, that’s OK, be­cause even the three Wood play­ers had trouble re­count­ing the names and ages of all their sib­lings. They un­der­stand that they don’t come from a tra­di­tion­al fam­ily, and they wouldn’t have it any oth­er way.

“Fran has sev­en kids and my mom has three of us, so it’s al­ways hard to get people to un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics of our fam­ily,” Taylor Kam­in­ski said dur­ing a week­end chat at the Somer­ton Youth Or­gan­iz­a­tion. “We have dif­fer­ent last names, and Colleen is the only one of us with red hair. It gets con­fus­ing for people to grasp, but we can’t ima­gine it be­ing any dif­fer­ent.”

In such a big fam­ily, how is it that every­body seems to play bas­ket­ball?

“My aunt al­ways jokes with me that our fam­ily loves bas­ket­ball so much that they de­cided to cre­ate a fam­ily that has enough people in it to fill two bas­ket­ball teams,” said Taylor, who will con­tin­ue her bas­ket­ball ca­reer at Blooms­burg Uni­versity in the fall. “If we wanted to, all of the sib­lings could scrim­mage each oth­er in a game of five-on-five.”

Whatever the reas­on, it seems to have worked, be­cause Taylor, Jess and Colleen’s Arch­bish­op Wood team has ac­com­plished a ton. Colleen’s older sis­ter, Kelly, re­cently played for the Vik­ings, and Taylor and Jess’ young­er sis­ter, Erin, will be a fresh­man on next year’s team.

To­geth­er, the three cur­rent play­ers are part of a pro­gram that won the 2011 Phil­adelphia Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­on­ship; this year they ad­vanced again to the title game, fall­ing short to Arch­bish­op Car­roll in the fi­nal seconds of a 40-38 loss. Ad­di­tion­ally, des­pite the fact that Wood came up empty in the cham­pi­on­ship game, the trio is still play­ing in the PI­AA Class AAA state play­offs, which the Vik­ings have won the last two years.

Taylor Kam­in­ski was a cap­tain on this year’s Wood team, while Jess Kam­in­ski and Colleen Young went from bench­warm­ers on last year’s squad to a starter and sixth man, re­spect­ively. The two young­er girls ob­served as Taylor be­came a key com­pon­ent to the team last sea­son, and the gradu­ation of sev­en seni­ors al­lowed them to fol­low in Taylor’s foot­steps. Taylor also seems to serve as the fam­ily spokes­wo­man, if only be­cause her team­mate sib­lings are ex­tremely soft-spoken.

“After los­ing all of the seni­ors we lost from last year’s team, we had some big shoes to fill, and these two cer­tainly stepped up,” Taylor said of her young­er sib­lings seated to her left. “To be able to share this all with them, from win­ning two con­sec­ut­ive state cham­pi­on­ships and play­ing in two Cath­ol­ic League title games at the Palestra, it’s been a good time for all of us.”

All three sib­lings have played bas­ket­ball with the Somer­ton Youth Or­gan­iz­a­tion since age 5, while also play­ing Cath­ol­ic Youth Or­gan­iz­a­tion grade-school ball at St. Chris­toph­er’s and AAU (Am­a­teur Ath­let­ic Uni­on) bas­ket­ball for the Mid-At­lantic Ma­gic, a team from Somer­ton. Play­ing with one an­oth­er for all of those years has fostered a close­ness that most bio­lo­gic­ally re­lated sib­lings nev­er get to ex­per­i­ence.

“We’ve been play­ing to­geth­er for so long that I think some­times we for­get that we’re sis­ters,” Colleen Young said. “We don’t even really think about it a lot out there, and we don’t really ex­pect any more out of each oth­er than any oth­er play­er on the team. But we cer­tainly look up to Taylor and what she’s ac­com­plished at Wood. She’s made it a lot easi­er for us to see what we need to do to have the same kind of suc­cess. We def­in­itely have each oth­er’s back.”

Colleen Young and Jess Kam­in­ski agree that the goal for next year’s team should be the same even though Taylor no longer will be part of it. Wood has re­mained suc­cess­ful in the face of team turnover, as head coach (and North­east nat­ive) Jim Ricci holds his re­turn­ing play­ers ac­count­able.

The three sib­lings also carry 4.0 grade-point av­er­ages in the classroom. And these days they’re help­ing oth­er kids at Somer­ton Youth — for five years, Taylor has been com­mis­sion­er of a co-ed league for 5-year-olds, while Jess and Colleen are coaches.

To­geth­er, they have seam­lessly blen­ded two fam­il­ies in­to one.

“One day I was one of three kids, now I’m one of ten,” Taylor said. “I want to have a big fam­ily my­self one day, be­cause I’ve seen how there’s nev­er a dull mo­ment with us. When people ask me, I don’t refer to Colleen as my step­sister or Fran as my step­dad. Fran raised us and did so much for us, so it’s not fair to not con­sider him our fath­er, and the same goes for Colleen as my sis­ter. To me, it’s not even a ques­tion.”

In a fam­ily where the old­est daugh­ter is in her early 30s and just had a baby, and where an older son is a U.S. Mar­ine sta­tioned in Ja­pan, it’s safe to say that this group will nev­er run out of things to talk about.

ldquo;If my own kids don’t want to play bas­ket­ball, I’d be dev­ast­ated,” Taylor said. “It has brought us closer to­geth­er as a fam­ily. Our par­ents didn’t force it upon us; rather, we were here (at Somer­ton Youth) most of the time any­way and we had noth­ing else to do, so everything just fell in­to place.

“I think their secret reas­on for get­ting us to play was to keep us out of trouble,” she con­tin­ued. “Whatever the case, I guess you can say it has all worked out.” ••


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