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Sibling Rivalry

Friday night, when Brookhaven High School’s football team takesto the field, Sarah Sproles Foster and her sister Amy Sproles Smithwill both be rooting for the Panthers.

There is only one problem: The BHS Panthers are playing the PetalPanthers and the sisters are not backing the same Panthers.

“It’s just fun sibling rivalry,” Foster said.

Foster and Smith are both graduates of BHS, Smith in 1978 andFoster in 1982. But Amy has a son in 10th grade, Kyle, who playsfootball for Petal, causing a swing in her allegiance.

Foster also has son in the 10th grade, Wil. However, Wil is notplaying football this year, so the family rivalry will not be asintense as it could have been. Instead, Wil is focusing on baseballthis year, playing first and third base.

Both sisters are deeply involved in their districts. In a bit ofsymmetry on par with the matching Panther mascots, Foster and Smithboth earned the district-wide Parent of the Year award from theirrespective districts.

Both sisters earned those distinctions through dedicatedinvolvement in their districts.

Foster was the PTA president last year at Brookhaven Elementary.Smith also has a past PTA presidency on her resume, at Petal UpperElementary. Foster is actively involved with the Diamond Club andits fundraising efforts to renovate the baseball field house. Smithis vice-president of the Petal Education Foundation and presidentof the Petal High Forensics Booster Club.

Foster credits their family background with their record ofinvolvement.

“We were brought up in a family that really believed in the publiceducation system,” Foster said. “We believe parental involvement iskey.”

Smith also pointed to her direct interest in the schoolsystem.

“When you have three kids you are going to be involved,” shesaid.

Points of similarity multiply the deeper you look into theirresumes. Foster was editor of the Ole Brook yearbook in highschool. Smith worked for the student newspaper, Panther Prints, andis now a freelance writer. After high school, both went to theUniversity of Southern Mississippi and were in the Chi Omegasorority.

They have never actually been students together, however. Smith isfour years older, just enough time to graduate high school and thencollege before Foster could catch up with her.

“I always had to follow in her footsteps,” Foster said.

The sisters’ record of involvement in school began back when theywere still students. In high school, Foster was president of theSpanish honor society, a member of the National Honor Society andinvolved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Amy was StudentCouncil President and also a National Honor Society member.

“I was a joiner,” Smith said. “If there was a club, I would joinit.”

As their dedication to involvement began in high school, so didtheir “fun sibling rivalry.” Both sisters played basketball at BHSand, though four years apart, tried to keep pace with eachother.

“We always tried to prove who was better,” Foster said.

Foster added with a smile that Smith was probably the betterbasketball player.

Foster has remained in the Brookhaven, while Smith has lived nearPetal, close to Hattiesburg, for about 14 years now.

Before Friday’s game, the sisters and their families will tailgatetogether. Foster said baked potatoes and chili are on themenu.

After the game, the sisters may part ways. Smith does not know yetwhether she will watch the game from the visitor side.

“I will probably go back and forth,” Smith said. “But if I sit onthe Brookhaven side, I will be pulling for Petal.”