The senior defender embraced the Big Ten mentality during her childhood, and she became a Hoosier when she committed to play field hockey at IU more than four years ago.
On Sunday, the senior returned to where it all started, when IU came up short in a physical defensive battle against No. 16 Michigan, as it lost 2-1 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Supica and the Hoosiers will visit another one of Nixon’s products Friday when they head to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on Michigan State and Shelby Supica, Sydney’s cousin.
“That’s always fun to play against her,” Sydney said. “We only see each other a little bit during the season, so it’s awesome to be able to play against her.”
Supica attended Ann Arbor Pioneer High School and led her team to a state championship in 2009, as well as runner-up performances in 2010 and 2011. The two-time first team All-State selection played under coach Jane Nixon, who has a career .970 winning percentage and had the most athletes playing in the NCAA tournament in 2006.
Shelby, a midfielder who is a year younger than Sydney, guided her Pioneer team to a state title in her senior season, one year after Sydney graduated. She too earned the first team All-State honor, as well as first team All-Midwest in 2012 before she headed to play for the Spartans.
Sydney and Shelby grew up together, with Sydney functioning like the big sister in their relationship.
After having played together since middle school, the first time they were on separate teams was when Sydney came to IU.
But they remain in touch and work out in the summer together back in Ann Arbor.
“Sydney actually got me into field hockey,” Shelby said. “Once I came to Pioneer, she was super supportive of me, and we became best friends — and still are.”
Sydney netted a career-high nine goals her sophomore season and tied the IU record for most defensive saves in a season with five.
She later broke the program record with eight defensive saves her junior year, and, after she missed the first three games of her senior season, IU is 5-3 this year when she is in the lineup.
“She’s been great on the field just with her production and her experience,” IU Coach Amanda Janney said. “Her big hitting ability really adds a different dimension to our backfield. We’re so excited for her to go back home, and we hope she plays a great game.”
Shelby appeared in just five games during the course of her first two seasons with the Spartans, and she registered one goal. Now in her junior year, her role on the team has expanded.
Coming off the bench, Shelby has seen playing time in every game but one and has a goal and assist to her credit this season.
“We would help each other out a lot on the field in high school,” Shelby said. “We did play different positions, so she would give me tips, and I would use them to try and help her out on the field.”
Although this is the third year both cousins are playing collegiately, this will be the first time the two of them step on the turf at the same time.
Since Shelby’s freshman year in 2013, the Hoosiers are 1-1 against the Spartans in the regular season and 0-1 in the conference tournament. The most recent game was a 2-1 IU victory in Bloomington last October, the Hoosiers’ only conference win last season.
“I can’t wait to play her,” Shelby said. “This is the last year. We won my freshman year, and then they took it last year, so this is kind of the rubber match of the Supicas. I’m super excited.”