DePaul Softball Siblings Continue Family Tradition on the Diamond
LINCOLN PARK — Ali and Gena Lenti were born to play softball at DePaul University.
Their father, Eugene, has been the Blue Demons' coach for 31 seasons, compiling a school-record 1,138 victories.
Their mother, Kandace Nied-Lenti, played for Eugene and was DePaul's first Academic All-American in 1987.
Ali and Gena even had their baptism parties at the former Blue Demon room in Alumni Hall.
Today, Ali, a sophomore, and Gena, a freshman, wear the DePaul jersey as members of the university's softball team, which is ranked 26th in the nation.
"It's just a tradition; it's something their family does," Blue Demons senior outfielder Samantha Dodd said of Ali and Gena coming to DePaul. "They just want to continue the tradition."
Ali, 20, and Gena, 18, both said they weren't forced to compete for the Blue Demons, whose season starts Friday.
They wanted to stay close to home — the family lives about 6 miles away in Old Irving Park — and be able to have their mom watch the games. Most importantly, they wanted to play for their dad and with each other.
"From the beginning, this was my plan," said Gena, an outfielder and middle infielder who also plays guard for DePaul's basketball team.
The sisters are no stranger to Eugene's coaching tactics. He instructed them in AAU competition, and Ali said her dad "can be the nicest guy, or if he's unhappy, he can be one of the worst people to deal with."
"He coached us for most of our lives, so this is no different other than it's just a higher level," said Ali, an outfielder who lives with Gena on campus.
Eugene, 55, said he treated the recruiting process of his children, who were both stars at St. Ignatius College Prep, the same as any other player.
The school mailed Ali and Gena recruiting letters, signed by the entire coaching staff, and each had official visits to the school.
Still, it likely was an easier sell than a normal recruit.
"My kids idolized the DePaul players when they were growing up," said their mother Kandace, the MVP of the 1988 team. "It's interesting now that they're on the team, and they're actually one of those players."
In less than two years, all three Lenti siblings will be at DePaul.
The youngest daughter, Cate, a junior at St. Ignatius, won't play softball, but said she's "100 percent" sure she'll be a Blue Demon.
"I feel like we bleed Blue and Red," Cate, 16, said. "DePaul is just our lives."