Siblings compete in season together



By Jared Farmer, Staff Writer

David Kendziera, a senior on the Illinois men’s track and field team, initially picked up track and cross country as a means to get himself ready for the mile-time trials in P.E. classes. It wasn’t until high school that he and Brenda, his younger sister who is sophomore on the University’s women’s track team, officially became teammates.

“For me, joining track was kind of random,” Brenda said. “I played basketball and volleyball when I was younger, and along with track, that kept me active throughout the year. Track was a sport I felt like I could continue in high school, and as I got better, I started to enjoy it more and more.”

After considering other schools and receiving a personal recommendation from their mother, Maureen, David decided to commit to Illinois. Since then, he’s gone on to become one of the most decorated athletes in the program’s history. He’s a seven-time All-American, NCAA Bronze Medalist in the 110-meter hurdles and the reigning Big Ten Champion in the 400-meter hurdles.

Brenda followed suit with her commitment two years later. She said she was swayed by their parents in addition to her best friend’s choice to attend the University. And with David already competing, Brenda ultimately made the decision to come to Illinois, knowing the academics would help her achieve her future career path.

“My major is psychology, and this school has a great psychology program,” Brenda said. “I knew graduating with a psychology degree from here was a big deal because there are so many successful alumni out in that field. There were people here that I knew… I could still compete in track and I could position myself for a successful future.”

The first two years David was in college and his sister was in high school marked the first time in four years that the tandem wasn’t competing on the same team. But when Brenda finally joined David at Illinois, the siblings regained the opportunity to support each other’s successes again.

“I always want to see Brenda do her best and succeed,” David said. “I’m always trying to help her out in any way that she can, so that at every meet she performs to the best of her ability.”

For Brenda, David serves as a powerful role model on the track.

“I want to be on the level he’s at,” Brenda said. “For every practice, I have that in the back of my mind as a big motivator.”

Last year, the two rarely practiced with each other. Most of the time, they would only see each other when hanging out at David’s apartment. Now that the men’s and women’s teams are a combined program, they typically see each other at practice every day.

“It’s almost like we’re living together again,” Brenda said. “At meets, it helps me because it brings out the competitiveness in me.”

Throughout their athletic careers, running track has strengthened and reinforced their relationship as siblings and as teammates.

“It’s really cool to have someone there, especially family there at every meet for you,” David said. “Brenda is someone I can be personal and talk about issues with, and even just being able to see each other at practice every day is nice. We have our own silliness and quirkiness with each other, and that shows in each practice.”


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