Updated: March 15, 2014 at 8:19 pm
It is a special childhood memory that twin sisters and Air Academy seniors Natalie and Jessica Berg will always cherish.
The two still vividly remember grabbing their lacrosse sticks when they were younger to go practice in the backyard with their brothers, and former Kadet standouts Ethan (2009) and Jeremy (2011). Their father, Karl, would teach them a variety of dodging techniques or help them work on their now-lethal shot as their mom, Christine, watched.
"My fondest memory growing up is playing lacrosse with my brothers and my dad and my sister," Natalie said, "just shooting around and having my mom watch us."
Jessica added, "Yeah, I love hanging out with my family at the park. Our parents were the most influential on us. My dad would be hands-on, teaching us how to dodge and whatnot, and my mom would also push us and drive us to practice every day."
Family is what brought the sport of lacrosse to the Air Academy all-Americans. Jessica, who was named an honorable mention all-American last year and Natalie, a first team all-American, began playing in third grade shortly after their older brothers picked up their lacrosse sticks.
It didn't matter what Ethan or Jeremy were playing, their sisters had to try it too.
"When we were younger, we always played everything our brothers did," said Jessica, who also plays basketball and field hockey. "They started basketball, then we started basketball. The only thing I couldn't do was football and that was frustrating."
It is almost fitting that Jessica would want to play football, as she brings a physical presence to the field for the Kadets. Last year, the 5-foot-9 forward scored a career-high 38 goals in her first season as a primary forward/midfielder after playing mainly defense her first two seasons.
Natalie is more of a finesse player and used precise passing and tremendous field vision to score 49 goals and 49 assists - second in the state - last year.
"Jessica is more of the physical force and plays with strength and good body positioning," coach Sean Harmon said. "She is a defensive-minded player; whereas Natalie is the cerebral offensive player. She breaks down the play and knows where everybody should be. On top of that, Natalie is a really good shooter. She has good shot placement most of the time and is very accurate."
The identical twins admit they rarely fight, and if they do it's minor, but Jessica likes to remind her sister that she is indeed the oldest - even if it's only by about 30 minutes.
"Yeah, she does, but when I am older I will give her a hard time about it because I will be the younger one," Natalie laughed.
Even today, the twins still go to the park with their dad to practice, or simply to spend time together as a family.
It is these "little moments" the sisters are relishing in their final season together with the clock winding down before the best friends go their separate ways to college.
The two will be hundreds of miles apart for the first time.
Natalie is joining Jeremy, who will be a senior at Oklahoma State, and possibly play club lacrosse.
Jessica is waiting on making a final decision to either play field hockey at Syracuse or attend Florida State and participate in club or intramural sports.
"We have never been apart from each other for longer than a period of two weeks, so it definitely will be a change," Jessica said. "I will probably miss her the most, even though my parents will. It will be different."
Natalie agrees and has already told her sister that letters and Skype dates are a must next year.
"I am going to miss her next year," Natalie said. "Playing together has definitely been one of my favorite parts. But every time we hang out she can make me laugh harder than anybody else.
"It's really nice to hang out with my best friend like that."