When the Boag twins decided to go away to school they hardly could have anticipated moving half a world away, but they did.
Oh, the wonders of the Internet!
That the sisters were 6-foot, 2-inch basketball players with some obvious skills didn't hurt anything either. Minot State University women's coach Sheila Green Gerding was alerted to the Boag twins by MSU men's basketball coach Pete Stewart, who had noticed them on an Internet site. It wasn't long before the Australian duo made the trip across the International Date Line and stepped onto the basketball court at Minot State University.
"They're great, fun kids," said Green Gerding. "They are fun to be around and very polite. They are fitting in, absolutely."
Making the adjustment from Australia to North Dakota was made a bit easier, perhaps, by the fact that Tamworth, Australia, the twins' home town, may be similar to North Dakota in a few small ways. Tamworth is considered the "Country Music Capital of Australia" and the city annually hosts many equine events.
Sure, the average daytime temperature in winter in Tamworth is 64 degrees and snow is rare, but who's paying attention?
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"We came here for the weather," laughed Carly.
Both sisters have been battling bouts with colds and listening to their coach tell them to dress warmer.
"They were pretty excited abut the snow and cold and always brag about how warm they are," said Green Gerding. "I have to scold them about wearing shorts around."
Maybe you can't blame the Boags for having their own approach to winter, since they actually will be living in winter for the next few years. They plan on returning to Australia following the current school year to visit with friends and family half way around the globe.
"We plan on going home in the summer," explained Christina, "But it is summer there now. We'll get there in May when winter starts, so we'll be going from winter to winter. It was 108 degrees there last week, so it's a lot warmer."
"I'd rather have the cold than the heat." added Carly with her distinct Australian accent.
The basketball playing sisters plan on returning to Minot State for their sophomore seasons. Both are working toward degrees in corporate fitness and physical education.
"My goal is to graduate," said Carly. "Your majors are different than what we have back in Australia, so we're doing something that will be equivalent back home. We could stay here. Who knows?"
Spend a few minutes with the twins and it becomes readily apparent that they very much rely on each other. It's not surprising. The Boags attended a boarding school for girls from ages 12 1/2 to 18.
"We had to rely on ourselves more do the washing, got our dinner. We pretty much had to rely on each other," explained Christina. "It was pretty scheduled. At first it was daunting but, loved it actually. We are very used to living away from parents and we've got each other as well. I'm good. Of course I miss my parents but I'm not that homesick."
Tamworth, a community of 45,000, is located approximately midway between Sidney, population 4 million, and Brisbane, Australia. The Boag's boarding school was about a five-hour drive from Tamworth.
"I loved doing it," said Carly. "I thought it was pretty good and you could get help a lot easier. Sometimes you wanted to get away from campus. I'm more independent, which is good. I loved it. It was a lot different."
The Boags couldn't be farther away from the land of kangaroos and those perfect Australian beaches but, by their very nature, are enjoying discovering new things in North Dakota.
"Ice hockey. We don't really have ice hockey," said Carly. "We've only seen it on TV so it was pretty cool watching a men's hockey game here, watching it live for the first time in the ring. It was pretty cool to watch it up close."
"We watched your football but ours is different," added Christina. "We don't know the rules yet, and snowmobiling I haven't done that yet."
From too many choices of breakfast cereal at the grocery to a wide array of merchandise at Walmart, the twins are getting acquainted with life in the states. The price per item is less than what they are accustomed to in Australia. However, that may not be as good as it sounds.
"Walmart is taking all my money," laughed Carly. "Everything is so much cheaper over here. You've got warmer clothes that we needed."
A concern for the sisters was the recent flooding devastation that struck much of Australia, particularly when considering the Tamworth area has experienced major flooding in previous years.
"We tried to keep up with it, the flooding kind of went around us," said Christina. "We didn't have any contact with mom and dad around that time but, luckily, they were fine."
Keeping in touch back home would take some planning. If you are reading this article at 9 a.m. Monday, it would be 1 a.m. Tuesday in Australia. That vast time difference aside, the twins have learned a lot more about the amount of time U.S. sports teams practice. Although they came from a school that offered a wide variety of sports including badminton, mountain biking, netball, surf lifesaving and cricket; practice time was limited.
"You have more opportunities here. Back home we just trained once a week. Here we train every day pretty much, It's kind of special. Definitely like practice every day. We train!" said Carly.
More practice has helped the twin sisters improve their basketball skills. Coach Green Gerding is doing her utmost to see that the sisters utilize and develop their talent, but she's finding her intensity is somewhat different than the young Boags.
"They are very, very laid back and not too much gets their feathers ruffled," said Green Gerding.
Nevertheless, the Boags are contributing key minutes on the court as MSU freshmen and are continuing to learn the U.S. game.
"For sure, especially posting up," said Carly. "Here we have to post up. Here our game is more inside than outside. We can go outside as well. We are playing more than we did in Australia."
Carly said she does miss the occasional Australian "meat pie and sausage roll." Christina admits she "ate just a bit" during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"We actually hung around them during Christmas," said Green Gerding. "My daughter thinks they are her sisters."
The MSU women's basketball team is comprised of one of the younger rosters in recent memory. The team was ranked nationally for a time and going to the national tournament is well within reach. More success is certain to come, with a little help from the Australian twins.