It's a Jenner Thing: Sisters Reunite at Duke


Maddie Jenner (above), a U19 training team member, has paired with her sister, Olivia, for a strong Duke team in 2019.

A sibling rivalry, this is not.

Maddie and Olivia Jenner, Duke’s dynamic sister duo of draws, have a uniquely symbiotic relationship. They are teammates for the first time since 2014, when they starred at McDonogh (Md.).

“I’m so grateful that she’s a senior when I’m a freshman,” Maddie said. “I definitely appreciate having a great relationship with an upperclassman. She’s my biggest supporter. She’ll always give me advice because we’ve shared similar experiences. On the flip side, she has high expectations and isn’t as tolerable of rookie mistakes.”

After three years apart, the Jenners’ paths have converged again. The two are superior draw specialists who have made each other better throughout the years. Olivia, an All-ACC performer in 2018, has set the standard high for Maddie by becoming Duke’s all-time draw control leader (362). Maddie, meanwhile, moonlights as a draw specialist for the U.S. U19 women’s training team.

It’s because of her recent performance with Team USA that teams are already scouting the younger Jenner. At the Team USA Fall Classic in October, Maddie Jenner pulled down a game-high 12 draw controls against Navy, to which legendary coach Cindy Timchal heaped praise, saying “They have a really exceptional [draw specialist], one of many, but one that stood out is No. 14 Jenner, who is at Duke. We had our hands full there.”

Of the 34 U.S. U19 players selected to participate in the Team USA Spring Premiere last month at Stanford, 29 are current collegians, including another Duke freshman in Olivia Rubin.

“When I heard that comment, that [Timchal] singled me out as a player, that was really cool that she thought about me,” Maddie said.

It helps to have her sister pushing her every day. The genetically gifted Jenners — Maddie is 6-foot-2 and Olivia is 5-foot-10 — provide Duke with a natural advantage at a position that requires the ability to pluck lacrosse balls launched high in the air over a pack of players scrambling for possession. Their father, Kris, played college football as a quarterback at Illinois.

“Height helps,” Olivia told The Baltimore Sun over the summer, “but I don’t think it’s the one defining characteristic.”

Whereas Maddie draws high, Olivia likes to pull the ball over her shoulder and box out her opponent. Both sisters also possess the perfect temperament for the position, seldom showing frustration.

It wasn’t always that way. For a while, they had to put a halt to drawing against each other in their Annapolis backyard because they’d get mad at each other. But as they grew older and closer, they realized they could make each other better.

“It’s a healthy competition,” Maddie said. “We just want each other to do well come game time. Whoever’s draw is working better is who we go with.”

Off the field, Olivia now mentors Maddie in the ways of college life and lacrosse. The two are enrolled in the same public policy class, “Introduction to the U.S. Health Care System,” for the spring semester. Maddie often will tell her fellow freshmen, “Let me ask my sister,” if they have questions.

“Our dad is always reminding us that it’s a really unique year,” said Maddie, who paused for a moment, as if to remember how little time is left. “It’s only one semester now.”

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