Sports has the power to draw people together, as it did for a group of Columbia County residents.
Four families created lasting bonds while their sons and daughters competed together in several sports.
In some instances, children in the Hergott, Holloway, Homer and Parvianen families also have been pitted against one another.
Laura Hergott, Sara Beth Holloway, Maggie Horner and Anna Parviainen start the sixth grade at Stallings Island Middle School in the fall.
“I’ve been playing soccer with Anna since I was 4 and Laura joined the year after,” said Sara Beth, whose group plays competitively at the Wilson Family Y. “It’s fun when you play together for such a long time.
“You can pass it to each other and you can play really well together.”
The friendship formed between the girls forged one among the parents as well.
“The girls have been on the same soccer team forever,” said Sara Beth’s mother, Holly Holloway. “We started a carpool friendship and have become lifelong family friends.”
For 11-year-old Maggie, much has happened with her friends by her side.
“We’ve grown together, got hurt together and done everything together,” she said.
As for the boys, Tommy Horner and Eric Parviainen begin fifth grade at Stevens Creek Elementary in August.
Eli Hergott will be a fourth-grader at Stevens Creek and Daniel Holloway starts fifth grade as a homeschooler.
Eric and Daniel swim in the CSRA Swim League with the Division 4 Augusta Country Club. Eli swims with Division 2 Petersburg Racquet Club and Tommy swims with Division 1 West Lake Country Club.
“(In) swimming, I go against them, (but) other sports, we play as a team,” said 10-year-old Eric with a smile. “It’s hard to beat someone who is a teammate and a friend.”
And the friendly competition can help each get better as they progress through the years.
“When kids push each other, the skill levels improve from sport to sport to sport,” said Eli’s father, Lonnie Hergott, who has been a basketball, football and baseball coach.
Tommy and Maggie’s mother, Becky Horner, thinks there is a common thread that keeps the youngsters together.
“They’re such great kids,” she said.