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.” ••EndFragment