Corvallis, Ore. -- "She's there for me through everything even when I fail a midterm like the other day, she's there bringing me coffee," says Oregon State senior gymnast Lacy Dagen of her younger sister Madi. "She's just there for me. My best friend."
The Dagen sisters have been together in the gym for what feels like forever.
"We've been together going to the gym together, getting in some fights together."
You know, typical sister stuff.
"A lot of them would happen in the car on the way to the gym, and my mom was diving and I was in the front seat and she was in the back seat and we would get the spray bottles from doing our hair involved," Madi remembers with a laugh. "I would lay the seat back to hit her knees, she would use the spray bottle in my ear. It ws a mess."
But with Lacy set to go to the University of Florida out of high school, the Dagen duo had their first test of being apart. And all the way in Gainesville, Madi became an emotional rock for her older sister after some lingering adversity from Lacy's high school days followed to the collegiate level.
" [I] Ended up tearing my ACL halfway through my senior year of high school before I got there," recalls Lacy. "We actually had a head coaching change. I was still really excited because it was the University of Florida and they were still excited to have me and then tore my ACL again."
"Not having her there and not having her to look up to was hard," mentions Madi.
"I just needed to have her there for me and to kind of give me, she is like the bubbly one of us and I kind of needed her to give me that happy that I didn't have so much of while I was hurt," Lacy explains.
With some extended family living in Oregon and Madi already competing for the Beavers, the wheels started to turn on the two reuniting in Corvallis. But it wasn't just the allure of an immediate family member being on the team. The closeness and chemistry of the Beavs team, an environment fostered by coaches Tanya and Michael Chaplin, played a big role in that as well.
"It's been great, I've known Madi and got to know Madi first and watch her develop," says Michael. "We definitely, luckily (head coach) Tanya (Chaplin) and I have tried to create a family environment here at Oregon State and promote that."
"I knew that everybody here was super supportive and the coaches would do anything for her," remembers Madi. "And if she wanted to be here, we wanted to make that happen."
"I hadn't had much of that while I was out in Florida," Lacy explains. "I didn't know what it was like to be on a team that was, literally, like a family of sisters."
Literally, in their case. And it's apparent on the floor, before and after each event they do. During the 2018 season, fresh off injuries and a transfer, Lacy was struggling with sticking her routine on the balance beam. But with the support of her teammates and her sister there beside her, Dagen stuck it scoring a 9.700 and was met with a celebratory dogpile by the entire team, with Madi leading the way. Since then, the two have helped each other through ups and downs as Oregon State gymnastics national profile has continued to grow.
"It's really a feeling like no other," Madi mentions. "I think we build off each other and it's so nice to give that fist bump before and give that hug after and seeing their joy and excitement for you is the best. Watching her overcome all of this things and leave from home, it was just like 'wow, how does she do that?' That's awesome. And just to see her be successful like that is so inspiring."
"To actually to go home and still have someone there for me to continuously be so proud of me, I'm lucky to have that," Lacy says.
And for the Dagen's, this will be it for them. After all the years competing adjacent to each other or together on the same team, the 2020 marks the last before Lacy graduates.
"It's just crazy to think it's gonna end soon," says Madi. "It feels like it shouldn't ever end, you know?"
But there are still moments left to be experienced. The Beavers host UCLA later in the month, followed by duals with Washington and Illinois later in the month. And that's before the Pac-12 and NCAA Championships.
"Those are the opportunities you live for," Lacy finishes. "To enjoy the opportunity to perform and be with each other."
Lacy will still be around after graduating, so the Dagen's won't be apart completely. But for now, every meet at Gill means more, for the Dagen duo, on one last adventure together.