WESTON — From her living room window on an autumn day, Lisa Parsons had a good view of the two girls across the street working on their game, which happened to be lacrosse. Annabelle and Mallory Hasselbeck were alone on the spacious Rivers School athletic landscape.
Parsons had more than a casual interest in the girls putting in time on their own. After all, she is the school’s girls’ lacrosse coach, and the Hasselbeck sisters were her best players. Practicing by themselves in the offseason was just another hint at how the sisters had become complete, accomplished players.
“Nobody works harder than Annabelle, she’s relentless,” said Parsons. “She works just as hard without the ball. She understands the game.” Annabelle is a senior.
Mallory is a junior. “She anchors our offense,” said Parsons. “She’s creative. She’s often one step ahead in the way the play unfolds”
Parsons, whose husband Ned is the Head of School at Rivers, simply labels the Hasselbecks “extraordinary.”
The sisters have already committed to playing lacrosse at Boston College, where their mother, Sarah, was an All-American field hockey goalie. She was inducted into the BC Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. Yes, her daughters play field hockey too.
So maybe the gene pool has something to do with Sarah’s daughters taking to sports like they have. Then factor in that Annabelle’s and Mallory’s dad is Matt Hasselbeck, formerly a star quarterback at Xaverian Brothers and Boston College who had a long career with several NFL teams. Matt’s brother Tim also played quarterback at BC and in the NFL. Their dad, Don Hasselbeck, suited up for four NFL teams at tight end, including the Patriots.
“We didn’t understand the magnitude of the Hasselbeck name at BC when we were young,” said Mallory. “It’s definitely had an impact.”
At Rivers, Annabelle and Mallory have excelled in field hockey. “We have an automatic connection, we’ve been playing together since who knows when,” said Mallory. The sisters clicked recently when Rivers defeated Governor’s Academy 3-0 for the NEPSAC Class B championship. Mallory scored twice, finishing the season with 10 goals and seven assists. The Red Wings finished 18-0-1. During the lacrosse season, Mallory had 41 goals and 24 assists. Annabelle turned in a 32/30 campaign.
“It’s been awesome playing on teams together,” said Annabelle.
Well, except in the winter. Annabelle plays basketball, Mallory ice hockey.
“Sports have been a big part of my life, from an early age,” said Annabelle. “We were never forced into it.”
Athletic director Bob Pipe has marveled at the high-level play produced by the Hasselbecks. “We don’t have enough three-sport athletes anymore, especially ones that make such an impact,” said Pipe, a two-sport standout at Natick High who is also the girls’ basketball coach at Rivers.
He pointed out that although their third sport is basketball (Annabelle) and ice hockey (Mallory) “they work just as hard as anyone else.”
The Hasselbecks lived in Seattle, Memphis, and Indianapolis when Matt, a three-time Pro Bowler, played for the Seahawks, Titans, and Colts, respectively. The family has settled in Weston, a skip and jump from the Rivers campus, and not far from the girls’ next destination, BC.
“Rivers is the only school I applied to,” said Annabelle. “I liked the school spirit. That was the big thing I wanted, a place where people were dedicated to sports.”
As for Mallory, it’ll be a one-year separation before she can reunite with her sister on the lacrosse field.
Actually, Annabelle played soccer her freshman year at Rivers before switching to field hockey. “But lacrosse was always my favorite. By far. It came more naturally to me.”
“Annabelle was a natural as soon as she got a stick in her hands,” said Matt.
At Rivers, the sisters are leaving their own mark in field hockey. “Annabelle and Mallory are impact players,” said Rivers coach Janna Anctil. “They’re a big reason for our success. They bring a level of competitiveness and aggressiveness. Both start and play most of the game.”
Field hockey was deeply imbedded in their mother’s family. “One of my sisters played at Harvard and another at New Hampshire,” said Sarah.
For Annabelle and Mallory to wind up at BC is a bonus for the family. “I can’t believe it, it’s like a blessing,” said Sarah, who drove her daughters often and far to games over the years. From their Weston driveway to Chestnut Hill is a breezy short hike.
So, how much alike are the Hasselbeck sisters, personality-wise? Parsons, the lacrosse coach, said “Annabelle is more reserved, Mallory’s an open book.”
What matters is that on the lacrosse field, they’re on the same page. “It’s just like we’re playing in our backyard,” said Mallory. “We don’t have to say anything. We can take that into our games.”
“They were always driven to play on teams,” said Sarah. “I love their passion for all the games, and where they’re going to take it.”
“It’s been fun watching them work so hard,” said Matt. “In our house we’re not allowed to play just one sport. When they were young, they’d always bring some ball or a tennis racket with them. They’re very competitive. When I was playing, I’d work out with them; now I can’t keep up with them.”
Unfortunately, Matt’s new gig has caused him to miss a few of their games. Like many ex-NFL players, he’s transitioned to TV, as an ESPN analyst. While his daughters would always heed his advice about sports, now he’s on the receiving end. “We tell him to stand up straight [on camera], and talk louder,” said Annabelle.
“He might text us and ask ‘is my tie on straight?’ ” said Mallory.
Uncle Tim, also on ESPN, escapes his nieces’ observations. “We really don’t critique him,” said Annabelle.
It’s no surprise that Tim and Matt were three-sport athletes at Xaverian High, which brings us to Henry Hasselbeck. He’s 14 and attends Belmont Hill School. Guess how many sports he plays?
When Henry’s sisters manage to scrape up some spare time in their ultra-busy lives, they strive to spend it with Henry, who always wanted to play whatever his sisters were playing. If the girls slipped out of the house “Henry would always say ‘wait up!’ ” Mallory recalled.
It seemed like the Hasselbeck sisters were always rushing off to a field, a practice, a game. Three days after the field hockey season ended, Annabelle went off to the first day of basketball practice, Mallory to the first day of hockey practice.
Naturally. They’re the Hasselbeck sisters. They play. They play everything. It’s what they do.
Reach Lenny Megliola at firstname.lastname@example.org.