Serves, sets, and sisterhood: the volleyball chronicles of the Arringtons

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Serves, sets, and sisterhood: the volleyball chronicles of the Arringtons

Noah Frank

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There goes Ms. Arrington. Oh, there she goes again. Wait, wasn’t she just in the aux gym? How is she in the College and Career Center too? Oh wait, there’s two of them.

Though the Arrington Sisters have two very different jobs at Wilson, they do share a passion: volleyball.

Volleyball has been a central part of the Arringtons’ lives ever since Perette Arrington’s freshman year of high school, when she was approached by her school’s head coach to try out. After making the team, to improve her game, Perette began to rely on her younger sister Patrice, then in middle school, as a practice dummy. This, in turn, sparked Patrice’s own love for the sport, and forged the relationship that the two sisters have today, both on and off the court.

“When we were younger we didn’t always get along or see eye to eye, but because we share that common goal it brought us closer together and we just continued that relationship,” Patrice said. “So when we’re on that court, we don’t have to say anything to know what the other is thinking.” It wasn’t long before the volleyball coach at Oxon Hill High School invited Patrice to come to practices after school to play alongside her sister.

When Patrice entered high school, her sister was a senior and they were able to play on the school’s varsity team together for one year. Both sisters started on varsity for all four years of high school. Patrice also landed a spot on the U.S. Youth National Team in the Junior Olympics. By their senior years, both Perette and Patrice had picked up numerous full-ride scholarship offers from colleges around the country, ultimately choosing Seton Hall University and the University of Oklahoma, respectively. “I was a million-dollar girl,” Patrice recalled.

Both of their college careers were characterized by numerous all-tournament and all-region teams, as well as All-American nods and other awards from their colleges. In Patrice’s case, this also included the all-time record for kills (point-scoring plays) at Oklahoma, and a spot on the U.S. National Team—the adult one, this time—though a torn rotator cuff kept her from playing in the Olympics.

From college, Perette went on to receive her masters from Howard University and her doctorate from George Washington University, also playing some competitive volleyball here and there. She coached GW’s volleyball team, starting as a volunteer and ultimately becoming an assistant coach, using her salary to pay for her tuition. Meanwhile, Patrice decided to hold off on graduate school, instead opting to play volleyball professionally in countries including Azerbaijan, Russia, and Belgium.

Since they’ve come to Wilson, the Arrington sisters have started to play together again in competitive adult leagues. For the past two years, they have played for a Canadian 40-and-over team called Fog Canada, winning the gold medal in USA Volleyball Open National Championships both years. Perette has also kept the sport in her life by coaching Wilson’s varsity team. “It brings me back to the work ethic that I had and the work ethic that I remember being around,” she said. “I want [them] to have the best high-school experience [they] can have.”

Being two sisters who play the same sport, it’s not unusual for the Arringtons to be asked which one of them is better at volleyball. Unsurprisingly, they did their best to skirt the question. “I’m great at my position and she’s great at her position,” Perette said. “She is probably the best outside hitter I’ve seen… because of her defense and her movement and how quick she is.”

Patrice responded similarly. “She is hands down one of the best middles I’ve seen across the globe. She’s super fast, super quick, hits the crap out of the ball, so I could never play her position the same way she does,” she said. “Everyone always asks us that question of who’s better, and I don’t know.”

Though they’ve found a great deal of success playing volleyball individually, the Arringtons’ skills are strongest when they’re on the court together due to the chemistry they’ve developed. “Whether it’s the blocking assignment, I can depend on her to pick up those tips, I can depend on her to push me if she sees something that I didn’t see—she’ll push me in that direction,” Perette said. Patrice echoed this sentiment, also adding that volleyball has brought them closer as sisters. “We have our arguments, but being able to share the sport that we love and that we’re passionate about, it connects us.”