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Kin Who Win: For These Mustangs, Their Sport is a Sister Act

Three pairs of siblings who all play either softball or tennis at Cal Poly, are pictured in a collage
Written By Jay Thompson

Cal Poly scholar-athletes usually get advice and encouragement from their coaches, trainers and teammates as they work hard on and off the field. But six lucky Mustangs have an extra support when they’ve had a rough performance or a bad day: a sibling, whose locker may be just steps away.

For these six athletes, their sisters are also their teammates.

Caroline and Krystyna Allman | Softball

Two sisters wearing Cal Poly softball uniforms high five on the field during a game.
Caroline, left, and Krystyna Allman during a game in March. Cal Poly Athletics

The Allman sisters from Castro Valley, California, shared a special year — pitcher Krystyna’s last as a Mustang and third baseman Caroline’s first.

As kids, their activities were slightly different — Krystyna dabbled in basketball and Caroline ran track — but both played soccer and were involved with competitive dancing before they each settled on softball.

This memorable year wasn’t the first time they’ve been teammates, however.

“We have played softball together our first year of travel ball — I was 9 and Caroline was 7, and then again in high school when I was a senior and Caroline was a freshman,” says Krystyna, 21, a biomedical engineering senior in a blended bachelor’s and master’s degree program.

Even though they played the same sport, the sisters weren't in competition with each other.

“I wouldn’t say that we experienced a sibling rivalry in softball,” Caroline said. “Our names were always linked, but our ages were far enough apart that it never got that deep.”

A woman wearing a Cal Poly softball uniform pitches a ball from the pitcher's mound.
Krystyna Allman pitches against CSU Bakersfield at a game in early April. Cal Poly Athletics

But who’s better? Their dad, Cal Poly alumnus Max Allman (Mathematics, ’92) — the Mustang’s Male Athlete of the Year and captain of the tennis team, both in 1992 — kept them guessing by refusing to answer.

“Either way, Krystyna and I are both natural athletes,” says Caroline, 18, a first-year environmental engineering major, who started in 11 of 25 games.

The pair inspire each other. Caroline admires her sister’s worth ethic, while Krystyna is cheered by her sibling’s competitiveness, which, she says, translates to success on and off the field.

But the best part lies closer to home.

A woman in a black Cal Poly softball uniform bats during a game.
Caroline Allman bats during a game in March. Cal Poly Athletics

“Caroline knows me better than anyone else,” Krystyna says. “If I’m having trouble on the mound, she knows exactly when’s the right time to come and talk to me. She’s also someone I can go to about any problem because I could trust her with anything. So I think we’re able to rely on each other a little more than other teammates.”

And Caroline admits that her older sister has always been “a person I look up to.”

“The best part about playing with Krystyna is knowing there is always someone for me to lean on,” she says. “When I have a bad day or game, I always know she’ll be there for me. Whenever I need some comfort or a good hug I go over to her house and just hang out for hours. She makes being away from home a lot easier and more comfortable for me.”

Delanie and Peyton Dunkle | Tennis

The Dunkles, who grew up about a 20-minute drive from Cal Poly in Arroyo Grande, started playing tennis against each other at an early age. “As soon as we were able to hold a racket,” quips older sister Delanie, 20, a red shirt sophomore on the team.

Was there a sibling rivalry? You betcha, both agreed.

A woman wearing a Cal Poly tennis uniform hits a ball with her racket on the court.
Delanie Dunkle.

“We were put up against each other in league finals and CIF finals, and we were just compared to each other a lot,” says Peyton, a 19-year-old freshman. “But we dealt with it well. We always had each other's backs and had good sportsmanship against each other.”

“Even in practice we’d disagree about score or line calls and the loser would always be upset,” recalls Delanie, 20. “As we got older, I think we both matured more and saw it more as healthy competition rather than a rivalry.”

The sisters have shared a lot in their lives: both are in Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business studying business administration; and when they were younger they played soccer and softball, and were involved for nearly eight years with competitive céilí (pronounced “kay-lee”) stepdancing, which took them to competitions in places including Montreal, London and Dublin.

And they shared a coach — their dad, Bill Dunkle, a pro who is the tennis director at the San Luis Obispo Country Club.

“Growing up we practiced with and against each other countless times,” adds Delanie, who also played golf in high school. “We’ve played in doubles tournaments with each other, and in singles tournaments against each other for the past 10 years. It’s nice to officially be teammates and get to have each other by our sides.”

A blonde woman wearing a Cal Poly tennis uniform hits a ball with her racket on the court.
Peyton Dunkle.

Delanie has helped Peyton transition to the rigors of Division I tennis play during her first year — and what a year! In 2022, the team had its best season in over a decade.

Delanie and doubles’ teammate Melissa LaMette were named Second Team All-Conference for the second consecutive year after finishing with a record of 12-5 together, including a 4-2 mark in Big West play. And ending her first year as a Mustang, Peyton and her doubles partner, graduate student Laura Bente, collected Honorable Mention All-Conference honors.

The sisters agree that it’s better to be on the same team.

“The best part is just getting to experience it with each other and always have each other to go to,” Peyton says. “It's always a great feeling knowing our hard work has paid off and going back home and getting to talk about it with our parents. An example of this is playing tennis next to each other during a match and seeing each other fighting for every point — and knowing that we are doing it together.”

Delanie says the former rivals are closer now — especially where it really counts: in life, for the long haul.

"Being on the same team as Peyton has made our relationship as sisters — our friendship — so much stronger,” she says. “There are experiences you have with siblings, and experiences you have with teammates, and to share both of those with Peyton is such a special thing that I will never be able to have with anyone else.”

Lily Jane and Maddie Rose Amos | Softball

It’s one thing to be a sibling, but softball’s Amos sisters — both 5-foot-9 seniors and 45-game starters — are twins.

A woman in a white Cal Poly softball uniform bats on the field during a game.
Maddie Amos bats during a game in March. Cal Poly Athletics

“We are fraternal twins — not identical — so people don’t think it is as cool,” says Lily, a catcher, outfielder and frequent designated player. “But we are still twins, and I think that’s awesome!”

Maddie, the older twin (by 11 minutes), is ending her time as a Mustang with a bang-out year. She’s the Big West Conference's fifth-leading hitter, batting .362, and is also ranked second among conference players with 40 runs batted in (RBI), 51 hits and 84 total bases, third with seven homers and a .621 slugging percentage, and fourth with 10 doubles and fifth with 49 hits.

Lily is also shining bright: she was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team after co-leading the program with three home runs and finishing second in the lineup with 17 RBIs; in her COVID-abbreviated sophomore season she started 22 of 23 games; and picked up All-Big West honors after finishing third in lineup with a .338 batting average – 29 points higher than her previous season best.

She holds a Big West record for most doubles in a game — three — that also set a milestone for Cal Poly softball as well.

The siblings have been teammates for most of their nearly 22 years. Maddie, a psychology major planning a career as a firefighter, says they’ve been competing “since the day we were born” and in sports since they were 5 years old; Lily, an interdisciplinary studies major whose career plans are still in flux, thinks they were 7.

The Roseville, California, natives also played soccer, basketball and volleyball before settling on their sport.

A woman wearing a Cal Poly softball uniform holds a bat and grins as she jogs around the field.
Lily Amos on the field during a game against CSU Bakersfield in early April. Cal Poly Athletics

“Before we started high school, we had to make a choice between competitive soccer and travel softball, and we picked softball,” says Lily. “I think we felt like we could go farther in softball than in soccer — and we enjoyed it more. Basketball and volleyball were always our ‘fun’ sports that we played for our schools but never played outside of school.”

Because they played different positions, they never had what might be described as a sports rivalry.

“We are very competitive with each other, but it’s always light-hearted and fun,” Lily says. “I celebrate all of her successes and Maddie does so with mine, but we are always trying to beat each other’s stats. I think it makes the game more fun, and it is nice having someone that pushes you in a positive way.”

One of their challenges is common to all twins — fraternal or identical.

“Being twins and athletes, we have always been compared talent-wise,” Lily said. “We are always asked, ‘Who’s better?’ or ‘Who has more home runs?’ But after almost 16 years we got pretty used to it, so it doesn’t really bother us anymore.”

But there are advantages to having a twin just down the dugout during at-bats.

“I get to play with my best friend every single day,” Maddie said.

Adds Lily: “I think the best part is when joining a new team and not knowing anyone you always have at least one person you feel comfortable around. We both push ourselves to be the best that we can be, so I think in that way we inspire each other.”

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