Sisters Ana and Heleyna Tucker reflected on their memorable run as Hope College student-athletes and teammates during the latest episode of the Hope College Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast.
The former cross country and track team champions spoke with Sports Information Director Alan Babbitt about their unique family bond as part of a set of triplets, their different educational pursuits and their shared passion for running.
Both Midland, Michigan, natives graduated from Hope College in May. They are now pursuing post-graduate studies and living apart for the first time in their lives.
Ana is working on her doctorate in physical therapy at Grand Valley State University while also running competitively for the NCAA Division II Lakers. The exercise science major at Hope posted 11 NCAA All-America efforts over three sports during her Flying Dutch, including in each of the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track seasons as a senior.
Heleyna is studying applied statistics in graduate school at the University of Michigan. The mathematics major joined Ana in helping the Flying Dutch win four MIAA titles in cross country and three apiece in indoor and outdoor track and field.
Their brother, Charles, recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in computer science. He now works for the United States Department of Defense.
“We all have different personality traits and over time, I think we really just learned how to balance each other out, “Each other strengths would fill each other’s weaknesses. That bond is really noticeable. When Heleyna and I went to Hope, it was very noticeable that Charles was away and that there wasn’t that balance. Now, Heleyna and I are going to separate schools, to separate grad programs. It’s definitely noticeable that we’re apart. Charles actually started running too and he’s doing quite well. We go on triplet runs sometimes together.”
The Tucker sisters also expressed their gratitude for their time at Hope College and all the different people who supported them, taught them and coached them.
“I bet we would both say Norty, our head cross country coach,” Heleyna said, mentioning Mark Northuis, Hope College’s head cross country coach and distance coach for track and field. “He’s definitely been someone to shape us and talk to us if we’re struggling. He helps us in any other aspect because going to college is a big transition is not having your family there. You don’t have your parents to talk to and I feel like your coach kind of becomes like that, an adult figure for you to talk to you if you have an issue. They kind of know if something is wrong. You walk in and can just tell.
“I’d say, all the math professors have been such amazing influences on me. I mean to name one, I remember in my freshman year I took a Calc 2 class with Aaron Cinzori. He just really impacted me my freshman year and made me really want to pursue being a math major and look more into that in the future. All the math faculty, they’re amazing.”