MISSOULA — The adjustment to college athletics can be challenging, but when you have a sibling to lean on it can make all the difference in the world.
It's also unique to see siblings on the same college team, but the Montana Lady Griz sport exactly that with Haley and Macey Huard, who are soaking up being teammates again.
"I was a little bit nervous at first, because we're both pretty feisty, I'd say, had gotten after it with one-on-one before," Haley Huard said with a laugh. "But honestly, since she's gotten here, it's been great. It's been super smooth. I feel like she's in my corner. And we're just each others biggest supporters. So it's been really amazing having her here."
Haley is the elder of the two sisters, a junior in the program who is one of the vets and longest-tenured players.
Macey, meanwhile, is the freshman, and has already been a key contributor for the Lady Griz and plays just over 16 minutes per game and averages nearly eight points per contest.
And she's had big sister to lean on every step of the way.
"It's been amazing. Honestly, a big part of why I came here was because of her. I love her," Macey said. "And she's a great support system for me and just teaching me and helping me out every day. Freshman year can be a lot. It's a lot different. Like you just are learning a whole new system and lots of details. So she's just been a great support system for me."
The two teamed up in high school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, to win a state championship at Valor Christian High School, but in Missoula, there's been the typical college things, like Haley needing to drive Macey places — the latter doesn't have a car — while also showing her the ropes of college and college basketball.
"Yeah, I just say college basketball is super fast," Haley said. "It's super fast paced. So I think trying to slow your mind, it's like, slow, take a deep breath, I think can be super beneficial. That's kind of just what I've told her. And she's obviously done great."
"I would say it's been good and hard like, like adjusting to new system is for sure hard and the details and stuff," Macey said. "But I've had a great support system around me with coaches and teammates, like seniors who've just poured so much into me. It's been a great season so far for all of us. And I just think just continuing to adjust and getting to do all the little details right will be huge."
And of course, the duo sports differences both athletically and in their personalities.
"Haley's really sweet and I was really proud of her last game (against Portland State). She got eight rebounds which was a career high for her," UM head coach Brian Holsinger said. "I mean, she just was playing really tough and is kind of a sweetheart and sometimes I'm like get a little meaner.
"Macey is the ultimate competitor. She spends more time in the gym than anybody. She wants to be the best. She has a drive that's unique. She's feisty. And sometimes we're trying to get her to slow down she's so feisty."
But that's to be expected for two sisters who come from a family of decorated athletes, as their father, Brock Huard, was a standout quarterback at the University of Washington who went on to play in the NFL. Their mother, Molly (Hills) Huard, also played college basketball for the Huskies.
But at Montana, the siblings are leaving their own mark and enjoying every second they get to compete alongside one another.
"It's been super special," Haley said. "I feel like there's no other place like playing here. I've had an amazing time. And I think just soaking in every single game getting to play with her. You never know when your game is gonna be your last. So just enjoying every single second, it's been really a lot more memorable than last two years because she's been here with me."
"So cool," Macey added. "She's my best friend, honestly. So getting to go out there and play with her. These are memories that will last a lifetime."