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Triple Takes

The Hendry Sisters and the Luckie Brothers Prove That Sports Can Be a Family Affair

September 21, 1997|PAUL NEWBERRY | ASSOCIATED PRESS

A grounder zips by Christina Hendry at shortstop. A few seconds later, a blooper plops in front of Caroline Hendry in right field.

"The Hendrys are 0-for-2," barks Kirby Campanella, coach of Atlanta's Roswell High School softball team.

Ah, but this family isn't done yet. When Cynthia Hendry snags a fly ball in center, Campanella is forced to admit, "1-for-3."

About 70 miles away from this suburban Atlanta high school, three young football players are heading out to their appropriate spots on the practice field at the University of Georgia.

Dustin Luckie splits off to work with the defense. Miles Luckie takes his spot in the trenches along with the other offensive linemen. Mike Luckie begins jogging around the vast expanse of green, keeping in shape while he recovers from a broken wrist.

"It's easy to recognize them on the practice field because they've got their numbers on," Georgia coach Jim Donnan said. "Now off the field, that can be tough."

Two sports. Two families. Two remarkable sets of siblings. But the key number to remember is three.

For 16 years, the Hendry triplets have been inseparable, whether it's playing softball, studying for a history test or gabbing about some cute boy at school. Their hopes and fears bubble to the surface in unison--Christina begins a sentence, Cynthia finishes it and Carolina adds something her sisters overlooked.

"It's almost like a comic act the way they bounce off one another," Campanella said. "They're very unique."

Not entirely.

Mike, Miles and Dustin Luckie have hardly been apart since that October day in 1976, when they entered the world just minutes apart. They've been on the same athletic teams as long as any of them can recall. Each became a football star at Atlanta's Clarkston High School, compiling a list of accomplishments remarkably similar--all-county, all-region, honorable mention on the all-state team.

When it came time for the Luckies to pick a college, it seemed only natural that one school would do for all three.

"It seems like we're around each other all the time," Miles said, grinning slyly. "Maybe I'll be able to shake them off one day."

That hardly seems likely.

Mike and Peggy Hendry wanted three children, but they didn't expect to get them all at once.

"In the hospital, they wore these bracelets with the letters A, B and C," Mike Hendry said. "That's how I told them apart. A was Caroline, B was Christina and C was Cynthia."

Hendry was a high school coach when his daughters were born, so he instinctively pointed them toward athletics. Softball and basketball were their sports of choice, and dad was always their coach.

"Some people complained that they shouldn't all be on the same team," Hendry said. "But it doesn't matter if you were twins or triplets or just sisters. If one sister was on the team, the rules said that the other ones had to be, too."

Right from the start, the triplets carved out their own niches on the softball field. Cynthia was the taller and faster of the three, so she wound up in the outfield. Christina was more diminutive, so she became a shortstop. Caroline had a knack for pitching, so she went to the mound.

All three were stars in the youth leagues, all three made the junior varsity together, and all three moved up to the varsity team this year.

"They all feel real confident in their skills and abilities," their father said. "If one kid had been smarter or a better athlete than the other two, I think there would have been a lot more jealousy."

Indeed, nature has a way of evening things out. Mike and Miles Luckie are identical triplets, but Dustin never felt left out because he and Mike wound up closest to each other in physical appearance as they got older. Dustin weighs 223 pounds, Mike is 217 and Miles . . . well, he has grown to 273 pounds.

"I don't know how it worked out that way," said Miles, united with his brothers when it comes to the strong chin and curly locks of dark-brown hair. "When we were about 13, I started to pull off from them in size."

Miles became a natural for the offensive line, Mike Luckie wound up as an middle linebacker and Dustin plays outside linebacker.

"We all play different positions," Dustin said, "so there's not any competition between us."

Now sophomores, each of the Hendrys has carved out a backup role on the Georgia football team. Always together, you know.

"We all live in the same apartment," Miles said. "We drive the same car, too. But I get it the most."

Wendy Luckie chuckles at the playful repartee among her three sons. Even when they were infants, babbling some language that was incomprehensible to everyone else, they always seemed to communicate on a different level.

"They like the same books, the same movies," she said. "If they go to different movie rental places and pick out three movies apiece, I'll bet two of them will be the same. It's unbelievable."

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