The Palmyra girls’ basketball team’s roster features three players who go by the name ‘Gundermann’ – Gabi, Katie and Mollie.
So how long have the Gundermanns been sisters? It only seems like a lifetime.
Sure the Gundermanns have their moments, they have their spats, they have their differences. But their bond as sisters has served to achieve the next-to-impossible, to enhance a once-in-a-lifetime season and make it even more extraordinary.
The Gundermanns and the other members of the undefeated Palmyra girls’ basketball team will open play in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Garden Spot High School, where they will take on Freire Charter, the 14-11 District 12 fourth-place finisher. The Cougars are the District Three champions, the Mid-Penn Conference titlists, the Keystone Division winners and 28-0.
“It is special,” said Gabi Gundermann, the Cougars’ senior point guard and defensive stopper. “We care about each other as a team. But we have a bunch of sisters and friends. When you care about people, it makes it even more special.”
Gabi, Katie and Mollie are actually three of five Gundermann girls, a family dynamic which includes two sets of twins.
Oldest sister Maggie, now a junior in college, is a former Cougar who founded the Gundermann association with Palmyra basketball, while freshman Tess, twin sister of Mollie, is the only sibling who doesn’t play basketball. Gabi and twin sister Katie are both senior members on the Palmyra girls’ basketball team.
“Sometimes it’s great because you always have someone to do something with,” said Gabi Gundermann of her four sisters. “But sometimes it’s a pain in the butt. I share a car. I share a room. It’s a lot of sharing.
“My dad and a lot of his brothers played basketball, and they got Maggie interested in it,” Gabi Gundermann added. “Maggie got us into the Palmyra program. Me and Katie kind of followed her into it. On teams, we started playing in the third grade. But we have videos of when we were three or four, playing outside on a mini hoop.”
Not unlike her role with her sisters, Gabi Gundermann is a steadying influence, a leader by example and a versatile performer for the Cougars. Gabi is also very competitive, a trait which Mollie has picked up on.
Mollie has certainly come on during her freshman season, working her way into Palmyra’s highly talented top eight. Gabi is of the opinion that when all is said and done, Mollie will be recognized as the best Gundermman.
“I don’t know if Mollie is the best player now, but she will be when she gets older,” said G.Gundermann. “She’s more coordinated. She jumps the highest. And she’s going to be the tallest. She started off the season playing JV, but when Katie McClellan got hurt, coach put her on the roster. When we got to the postseason, we realized we needed a deeper bench so we went to Mollie because she’s really improved.
“It’s some of both,” G. Gundermman continued. “She’s more athletic and she’s been competing at a higher level for her age group. When we go out and play, it’s me and her playing one-on-one, and it’s pretty competitive. Sometimes in practice (teammates) Carly (Richardson) and Kate (Carmo) will say about Mollie, ‘Wow. That’s a Gabi Gundermann move.'”
Katie Gundermann isn’t quite as competitive as Gabi and Mollie, and doesn’t get to play as much. But that doesn’t stop her from contributing to the Cougars’ success.
“She always does a great job with the bench,” said Gabi of her twin. “During practice with the second team, she does a good job so we can compete live. She has more emotion than anyone. She sparks the team’s emotions. She’ll tell us what we need to do or she’ll repeat what coach says. She’s really involved for someone who doesn’t get time on the court. We all appreciate her all the time.
“This season has been great,” Gabi added. “Katie gets so happy when we win, and it makes us happy. I’m really excited that Molly got to play because we’ve had so much success. She really got to see so many things this season.”
Outside of the winter season, Tess Gundermann plays soccer, Mollie Gundermann plays volleyball, Katie Gundermann plays tennis and Gabi runs cross country. But it’s basketball that seems to bring them together, at least in the physical sense.
“Me and Molly are super competitive,” said Gabi. “We don’t want to lose a game. Once we played a game of one-on-one to 70 points, and we stayed out there until it was over. And it’s not always in basketball either, it’s in everything. Katie and Tess don’t want to compete as much. But me and Katie are competitive in other things, like school.
“I think sometimes I try to show them what to do and how to do it,” added Gabi. “This is their (Mollie’s and Tess’s) first year in high school. But of us all, Tess is the most like a mom.”
Five sisters. Five Gundermanns. Five individuals.