Ball State women's swimming and diving coach Kristy Patterson was sitting on the couch when her phone lit up with a FaceTime call.
She was confused when former swimmer Cori Vormohr popped up on the screen with her little sister Anne and cousin Sophie Bader chirping in the background.
Anne and Sophie, best friends and cousins, committed to swim for Ball State that night, and Patterson couldn’t have been happier.
The two freshmen grew up in nearby Portland, and Ball State always stayed on Sophie’s mind. She considered attending Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Xavier University, Miami and the University of Indianapolis, but she wanted to stay close to home.
Anne also considered Ball State and Miami, but she also looked at places further away like the Naval and Air Force Academies. She didn't want it to be a foregone conclusion that she'd follow in Cori's footsteps at Ball State.
“We wanted her to keep her options open and travel to other campuses,” said Marcie Vormohr, Anne’s mom. “If she were to get a full ride to Colorado, we would be OK with that because the money we would save on school could pay for traveling.”
Sophie became terrified at the thought of not going to college with Anne. They started swimming together when they were 4 and were coached by their moms. Sophie's mom would even joke about Anne being her fifth daughter. They attended Jay County High School together and qualified for the state championships.
Cousins Anne Vormohr and Sophie Bader began swimming together when they were 4 years old and were coached by their mothers. Now, Vormohr and Bader are swimming and diving teammates who live together and are both nursing majors. Sophie Bader // Photo Provided
This year, the pair competed at the MAC Championships in Oxford, Ohio. Anne posted Ball State's top times this season in the 100-yard backstroke (56.75) and 200-yard backstroke (2:02.60) and Sophie had the top 200-yard individual medley (2:07.36) and 200-yard butterfly (2:04.98) times.
“I’ve always had Soph to train with and we literally swam side by side,” Anne said. “Soph swims the butterfly and I swam the 200 fly and made state cut. She swam it the next week and got one-tenth of a [second] slower than me. Our times can be that close."
Seeing Anne succeed pushed Sophie to become a better swimmer, too. Anne finished fifth in Indiana in the 100-yard backstroke her freshman and junior years. The smile Anne had on her face was something Sophie wouldn’t forget — so she did the same in the 100-yard butterfly.
“Seeing her be so happy and accomplishing so much pushed me to want that same thing,” Sophie said. “She pushes me to become better and senior year, I was ranked in the top eight of Indiana.”
Sophie tried to push Anne toward Ball State, but Anne had to make the decision herself. She visited other schools, and after visiting the Air Force Academy in Colorado she had a clearer picture of what she wanted.
“I was on the plane coming home from the Air Force Academy and my dad looked at me and said ‘Do you really wanna go there?’ and I said, 'You noticed it too? I don’t think the service academy is for me.'”
In Anne’s eyes, the fourth-class cadets, which is what the academy calls first-year students, weren't treated right.
“The girls would be going up a flight of stairs and freshmen had to walk on the outside, square every corner and chop in the hallways,” Anne said. “I get it, we are young and have to earn the respect of those above us, but not like that.”
On the way home, Anne called Sophie.
“At this point, I was in the shower and my phone started ringing and it was Anne," Sophie said. “I called her back and she was like, 'I think I’m going to commit to Ball State tonight.' It was out of nowhere and I screamed down to my mom and told her.”
Anne and Sophie are now roommates, teammates and classmates and their moms attend every meet, home or away. They both major in nursing, which is fitting given that Sophie’s dad is a veterinarian, and Anne’s brother and dad are both doctors.
To build team chemistry, the swimming and diving team does a "positively positive." Each member on the team is supposed to write a friendly message to a teammate, and one day, Sophie received one from Anne.
“Thanks for pushing me in and out of the pool.”
Anne and Sophie started off together, and they don’t plan on being separated any time soon.