Sitting on the steps between the Michigan and Illinois parent sections at the Big Ten Championships, Hank Botterman cheered for both teams.
Wearing a homemade T-shirt that was half-maize and half-orange, his heart was divided as he rooted for his daughters: Michigan freshman Kylee and Illinois junior Marijka.
Kylee was quick to take credit for the creative design of the shirt, which said “MICHNOIS.”
“I made the shirt for my dad,” Kylee said. “I’m glad he’s wearing it.”
The two daughters took pictures with their father on the mats after the meet’s awards presentations. There were no hard feelings between the girls, just laughs.
But Hank wasn’t used to seeing his daughters on opposite sides.
“It’s just really exciting to have two kids who competed with each other all these years and all of the sudden there’s one meet and they compete against each other,” Hank said.
The family had plenty to enjoy Saturday, watching the Wolverines win the championship and the Fighting Illini finish runner-up.
And his daughters’ performances weren’t too bad, either. Kylee tied for first on the floor exercise with a 9.900 score. Marijka competed in the all-around for Illinois and posted a 39.025 score.
The Bottermans live in New Lenox, Ill., and both of Kylee’s older sisters attended Illinois and competed in gymnastics there. But Kylee broke with tradition and chose Michigan.
Her father’s only complaint is that he can’t see her as much. It’s about a four-hour drive from their home to Ann Arbor, but the Bottermans have willingly made the trip to watch Kylee compete this season. Of course, they’ve made it to Marijka’s meets, too.
But it has been challenging to attend both of their daughters’ meets because they generally take place on the same night each weekend.
“We try to go to the home meets,” Hank said. “We went to about six meets apiece. It’s just such a blessing that we can see both throughout the year.”
Support from family members has been outstanding this season for the Wolverines. The contingent of maize-wearing parents and siblings is clearly visible at every meet. They’re the first group to start Michigan chants and the loudest supporters. Many parents also travel to away meets to provide support.
Even at a meet where two daughters were rivals for three hours, family played a crucial role.
“Our family supports us both,” Kylee said. “So it felt like old times when we used to compete together. It was awesome.”