Jan. 10, 2017
By Ben Blevins
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- When the University of Michigan volleyball team hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Crisler Center, it gave freshman libero Kyleigh Hamacher and her older sister, Kaitlin Hamacher, a senior cheerleader, a chance to share the competition floor for the first time.
It was a case of everything coming together to make a special moment for the Hamacher sisters. A moment that hadn't happened before.
The Michigan cheer team does not cheer at volleyball matches during the regular season so Kaitlin's only moments of support for her younger sister came from the stands as a fan. Kaitlin can often be seen on the baseline at Crisler Center for basketball games, but in December she found the feeling a little different. The cheer team was asked to come to the NCAA volleyball first- and second-round matches. Kaitlin was quick to volunteer.
"I was like YES, YES, I want to go," said Kaitlin. "I convinced some of the other cheerleaders that it would be a lot of fun. It was really cool to warm up next to her and then stand near her during the matches. I was so personally invested into it, more than a normal game we are at."
Kyleigh and her team faced off against American in the first round on Dec. 1 and with a 3-0 victory advanced to play No. 19 Oregon on Dec. 2, winning that one 3-1. The two matches marked the first time in 2016 that the volleyball team played in Crisler.
"It was an honor to play in Crisler, and it worked out that she got to cheer too," said Kyleigh. "It was something we had talked about before so we were very thankful for the opportunity. Seeing her up close and doing what she loves made me happy. It was an experience that we can always look back on."
The two Hamacher sisters have enjoyed spending this one year together at Michigan, a place near and dear to their family. Their father, Shawn, attended U-M, and they grew up going to games on campus.
"Since I was two years old I had told people I wanted to be a cheerleader at Michigan," said Kaitlin. "I always wanted to go here, and when I got in there was no question."
Kaitlin tried out for the cheer team and was a part of three NCA national championships. She has also been at many memorable football and basketball games. However, cheering at volleyball this year will be one of her more lasting memories.
"I never thought cheering at a volleyball game would be one of my highlights, but it is high up on my list," said Kaitlin." I got to take a picture with Kyleigh in the tunnel. We hadn't had a chance to be together in sports since we were both little doing gymnastics."
Kyleigh started to get recruited by Michigan her sophomore year of high school after she attended a U-M camp in eighth grade. She, like her father and sister, fell in love with the school and continued the family legacy.
"It was a dream come true to come here and continue the Michigan legacy," said Kyleigh. "It has been incredible to be here with my sister. It has been the best experience having her support me in school and at my games."
While the Hamacher sisters are making the most of their one year together at the University of Michigan, the two of them will always remember when the stars aligned and they could share the memories from the NCAA Tournament.