TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – It’s the tale of college sweethearts, kind of.
Jeff and Cassie Cowan met at Emporia State University in 1991. Jeff was a member of the football team, and Cassie the basketball team.
Fast forward 30 years, and three of their four children are also Emporia State athletes.
“The players really sell the program and the university with the culture they’ve created,” Jeff said. “Kids can feel that.”
Dalton, the oldest child, is a redshirt junior on the football team. He played quarterback and recently moved to slotback.
Twins Reid and Riley, the youngest, are seniors at Seaman High School and will be making the move to Emporia this fall.
“It felt like it had good energy, and it felt like the right place for me,” Reid said.
Riley had the same feeling.
“It felt like home when I went on my visit,” she said.
Jeff and Cassie never pushed their children to choose a certain college. They wanted each one of their kids to follow their hearts, but their hearts still led them to the hornets.
“Every college you’re going to go to talks about ‘This is a community. This is a family,’ but here, it’s really different. I think that’s why we’re really drawn to it because that’s how we lived our lives.”
Bryce, the middle son, isn’t in on this family affair. He’s a part of the Fort Hays State golf team, which is a sport Emporia State doesn’t offer.
“He really does like Fort Hays,” Jeff said.
Bryce going to a different school adds to the sibling competition, too.
“It suits him,” Cassie said. “…We’ve always had competition amongst the kids since they were little.”
The Cowan family’s familiarity with Emporia State made the recruiting process a little easier for the coaches.
“I know the bloodline,” Gary Higgins, Emporia State head football coach, said. “I mean, both of their parents were very good athletes here at Emporia State. Dalton’s mentally tough, and I know Reid brings that same type of mentality to the table.”
For head soccer coach Bryan Sailer, there was no issue convincing Riley.
“I don’t know if there was a big recruiting battle as far as where she wanted to go,” he said. “For riley, it’s not about the name on the back of her jersey. It was about the name on the front.”
College isn’t a time for these siblings to part ways just yet.
“Our family’s as close as it gets,” Dalton said. “We’re all each other’s best friends.”
Reid and Riley have always kept enough distance to not get tired of each other.
“I’m excited to go up there with her and Dalton and, you know, make sure no dudes ever talk to her,” Reid said.
“I’d say I want to get away from my brothers, but I’ve always done everything with Reid,” Riley said. “He’s always been by my side.”