The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

May 4, 2012

Sisters on opposite sides for first time as head coaches

PITTSBURG, Kan. — How do you make a softball game between rivals St. Mary’s-Colgan and Frontenac even more interesting?

Enter sisters Abby Farabi and Cassie Buche. 

Not just sisters, but sisters who have been big names in the southeast Kansas prep sports scene for close to a decade. Sisters who could easily be mistaken for twins.

Cassie — the oldest by two years — is in her fifth year coaching the Frontenac softball team. Abby is in her first year coaching the Panthers.

The two collided on Thursday night at Cheryl Stice Field in Lincoln Park.

Their dad, Francis Buche, sat in a folding chair and held his breath.

“These girls,” he said, “they both hate to lose. They don’t like to win. They hate to lose.”

Naturally, someone had to lose on Thursday and it was Farabi, whose Panthers fell to the 17-0 Raiders 11-1 and 10-7.

“That made it harder,” said Farabi, who is married to former Colgan and Pittsburg State football standout Caleb. “I never want to lose to my sister. I don’t want to lose to anyone, but it’s harder to lose to her.”

Buche, whose Frontenac squad hasn’t lost since falling in last year’s Class 3A state title game, completely understood.

“I know how much I put into my program and how hard I work and I know she’s exactly the same,” Buche said. “It’s hard to be on the other end. We want the same for our girls. You don’t want them to get beat.

“I just wish tonight could have passed without anyone losing.”

The sisters were standout athletes at Frontenac in the early-to-mid-2000s. They helped lead the Raiders to a state runner-up finish in 2002.

Buche went on to play softball at Pittsburg State from 2003-06. Farabi played two years of junior college basketball at Allen County before joining the Gorillas’ softball team for two seasons.

“They were fortunate in that they grew up playing on good teams,” Francis said. “They never got used to losing and they still haven’t. They’re just competitors.”

Francis — who wore a specially-designed “House Divided” shirt for the game — said neither sister planned on pursuing a career in coaching, but both jumped when they were given the opportunity. In fact, they describe their time in coaching so far quite similarly.

“I was given the opportunity to be an assistant softball coach and I enjoyed it more than I ever thought I would,” said Buche, who is also the head volleyball coach at Frontenac. “It’s been the best experience of my life.”

Farabi’s career started when she took an assistant basketball job at St. Mary’s Junior High.

“I fell in love with it,” she said. “I jumped at the chance to coach here at the high school, and it has been the most rewarding experience of my life so far.”

Both sisters agree their coaching styles are similar. But Buche, who has the longer tenure, says she thinks she has been helped by her experience.

“We’re a lot alike, but at the same time we’re different,” Buche said. “I have a little more experience than Abby, so I handle situations differently. When I see her coaching and how she reacts to certain things, it reminds me a lot of myself when I first started out.”

Buche and Farabi both said they were glad that Thursday night is now in the past. But they both pointed out that their teams are in the same 3A regional. A third meeting is a definite possibility.

If they can handle it.’

“It’s pretty emotional,” Farabi said. “You try not to think about it because the kids work so hard to get to this point and you want to focus on them.

“But it’s hard. At the same time, we’re each other’s biggest supporters and once we’re off the field, it’ll all go back to normal.”

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