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Sibling Rivalry

To say that Mark and Jackie Blades hail from an athletic family would be an understatement.

Mark, a senior defender on the men's soccer team, and Jackie, a sophomore midfielder and forward on the women's soccer team, are the fourth and fifth members of their family to play college athletics.

The Blades, from the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, Ohio, include the father, Edward, who ran track for Harvard University; the mother, Jane, who played basketball for Case Western Reserve University; and a brother, Gavin, who played and coached soccer at Yale University.

"We became a very good athletic family because we are very competitive with each other," Mark said. "We like to be active. So when we were younger, we were always playing sports against each other, and nobody ever wanted to lose. I think that pushed us into becoming good athletes because we were always doing it and never stopped."

While Jackie is used to competing against her brother, she said having Mark so close has been a major advantage in her transition to Northwestern. "It's mostly a comfort thing," she said. "Just knowing he's there makes me feel better."

After leading his high school, St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, to two state championships, Mark has started every match during his time at Northwestern. A stalwart in the Wildcats' defense, Blades also has a propensity to score — he was tied for second on the team with three goals during the 2008 campaign. Following his junior season Blades became only the second Northwestern player to be honored as a third-team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Jackie received considerable playing time as a freshman, recording an assist against Loyola University Chicago. She figures to be an important part of the Wildcats' roster in 2009.

— Robert Levin (J12)

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Mark Blades
Senior defender Mark Blades has helped Northwestern garner a top 10 preseason ranking in College Soccer News.Courtesy of Northwestern Athletic Communications