By Sarah Leggett, GoDuke the Magazine
Senior Olivia and freshman Maddie are part of the 15th-ranked Duke women’s lacrosse team and a draw circle unit that has been very successful this season. Spearheaded by Olivia and Maddie, the Blue Devils have accumulated 288 draw controls this season and have limited their opponents to just 156. The Jenners have tallied 196 of Duke’s draws.
“I started playing lacrosse first because I am the older one, so I had more natural opportunities to start,” said Olivia. “I started playing in second grade. Where we grew up in Annapolis, it’s very much lacrosse country. If you weren’t playing lacrosse, you were the odd man out. Maddie started in kindergarten. Our mom grew up playing lacrosse and then started coaching Maddie’s team, so it started becoming a family affair.”
The Jenner girls grew up in Annapolis, Md., went to lacrosse powerhouse McDonogh and were both sought-after recruits at the collegiate level.
Olivia was a US Lacrosse and Under Armour All-American and was ranked the No. 9 high school senior in the country by Inside Lacrosse. As a senior, she was selected to the North vs. South All-Star Game as one of the top 44 players in the country and helped guide her high school squad to a 21-0 record her final year, as well as four straight conference titles during her career. Olivia led the team in draw controls (98) and goals (54) as a senior and concluded her career with 102 goals, 24 assists and 245 draw controls.
Maddie led McDonogh to three conference titles as a three-time all-conference selection and was named All-USA Today and Baltimore Sun All-Metro Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year as a junior. Maddie was selected a member of the Under Armour All-America Game following her final season and wrapped up her prep career with 137 goals and 59 assists. Following graduation in August, Maddie was named to the training team for the 2019 U.S. Women’s U19 national squad.
“We were never on the field at the same time so we never overlapped,” Olivia said. “We played against each other a lot in practice but we didn’t have as much collaboration as we do now. We shared the same great highs and lows but we were never passing the ball to each other.”
Maddie joked that instead of watching from the stands with the Jenner family during spring break trips, she would watch from the sideline.
Prior to their successes in high school, Maddie and Olivia were taught the ins and outs of becoming a draw control specialist.
“I went to a camp when I was in middle school and it was run by college counselors who were going to play lacrosse in college,” Olivia said. “One of them was Karri Ellen Johnson, who was really successful at Maryland. My dad asked her to teach Maddie and I and she ended up babysitting us for a while and we would use those opportunities to do draw controls in the backyard. She was left-handed, so I do it left-handed. All of my foundation of draw controls came from her.”
Johnson, who graduated in 2012, currently ranks third in Maryland history in goals (236) and amassed 253 draw controls over her four years.
“After Liv left high school and I was a sophomore, I felt this expectation to try to continue the draw control tradition that she started,” Maddie said. “That’s when I really tried to be good at the draw.”
Fast-forward to their careers now, the Jenner family has a long-standing tradition with Blue Devil lacrosse.
Susan Cummings, Maddie and Olivia’s mother, played club lacrosse at Duke and graduated in 1981. Even though continuing the tradition would be a nice story, Maddie and Olivia said there was never any pressure to follow in their mother’s footsteps.
“My mom took me to her 10th year reunion but she never pushed us to go to Duke,” Olivia said. “We knew about Duke earlier on than most people just because she did graduate from here, but there was never an expectation to come here.”
“When it came down to choosing between three schools, my mom would send Duke-related articles to my email almost every other day,” Maddie said. “But, I always knew in the end it was my decision and she would support me.”
On the field this season, Olivia and Maddie have seen great success as Blue Devils working together toward one common goal.
“I was confident in coming to Duke,” Maddie said. “It took a while to decide but I knew I was confident in being a different player from Liv. I knew I would be able to come to Duke and be my own person.”
Maddie earned her first collegiate start against top-ranked Boston College earlier in April as she finished with one goal, one assist and five draw controls and totaled four goals and nine draw controls in her first two career contests. Maddie also added a season-high 13 draws at seventh-ranked Northwestern.
Olivia tallied a career-high six goals against fourth-ranked Syracuse in March and reached the 100-goal milestone for her career at Campbell. Already the program’s all-time career leader in the category, Olivia also surpassed the 400-draw control mark for her career at Elon early in March. As a junior, Olivia was a second team IWLCA All-South Region and All-ACC selection at attack and was also named to Inside Lacrosse's 2018 Media All-America first team and the Tewaaraton Award Watch List. She added first team All-ACC honors to her resume this week.
When asked which attributes they value most about each other, Maddie and Olivia were quick to answer.
“For Maddie, she has a really good vision of the field, which I don’t have as much of,” Olivia said. “She’s much more a student of the game where she knows the various plays step-by-step and has a greater lacrosse IQ.”
“Liv’s aggressiveness stands out immediately,” Maddie said. “She uses her speed and strength to her advantage.”
The Jenner girls are seen around campus together all the time, on and off the field, something Maddie says helps the freshman class and allows them to be closer to the seniors.
“I definitely value having her here,” Maddie said. “If she doesn’t want to hang out with me, I always guilt her into it since we only have a few months left together.”
Even though Livvy J will be graduating in the upcoming weeks, the bond these two share on and off the field will always remain the same.