Soares siblings reached new heights at Master's until coronavirus ended their seasons

As he does every time there is basketball news to share with his distant parents and siblings, Tim Soares pulled out his phone, entered his message, and hit send.

The missive went to Stephanie, the younger sister immersed in practice while playing for The Master’s University in Santa Clarita and winning a gold medal with the Brazilian national women’s team at the Pan-Am Games last summer.

It went to Susan and Rogerio, the parents who both played college basketball and left their flawless shooting form to their offspring.

It also went to Jessica, another younger sister who plays for Master’s, and Tiago, a junior guard at the Santa Clarita Christian School who plans to follow the pitter banter from family footprints to Master’s.

This text to the family group chat made Tim chuckle in awkward times. Stephanie, a sophomore center, had just been selected as NAIA Division I Player of the Year on Thursday, but the photo the school sent with the press release depicted her as what Tim thought was a bit clumsy.

“It was a funny picture of her, so I had to laugh at her,” said Tim, a senior attacker with NAIA All-American on the master and second teams. “I can’t laugh at her anywhere else, you know?”

Certainly not when it comes to basketball. Stephanie is a 6-foot-6 blend of muscle strength and precision that brought Master’s to a school record of 29 wins and a number 2 seeding in the NAIA women’s tournament alongside Jessica, a junior reserve with knee and shoulder injuries.

Tim, a 6-10 striker with a sharp shot, averaged 18.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, while helping the Mustangs (23-8) grab a number 5 finish in the NAIA men’s tournament.

On March 12, Tim had to pull out that phone for much more disturbing news. Less than a week before the tournaments were due to start, Master is on the brink of what felt like a double dose of history, everyone knows it was over. The rest of the season had been canceled due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

Stephanie said, “It was really disappointing because we had such a great team.”

Jessica said, “I was really sad.”

Tim said, “A week later it kind of struck me. It still touches me a bit slow and makes me sad, but I have to continue now. “

For Tim, it was not just the end of a season, but a college career in which he had become the school’s leader with 272 blocks and a triple Golden State Athletic Conference defending player of the year. Stephanie’s 324 blocks in just two seasons have already put her at the top of the all-time school list. She led the nation this season in blocks (4.9 per game) and rebounds (13.6), finishing second in scoring (20.7).

Now that their basketball seasons were over and their spring classes were to be held online, the siblings parted ways. While Tim went to Damascus, Ore., To be with his fiancé prior to their planned wedding in May, Stephanie, Jessica and Tiago traveled to Bellingham, Wash., To be with their aunt and uncle.

That made Susan and Rogerio, Christian missionaries in Sao Paulo, worry even more than usual about the well-being of their children.

“We all pray and ask God for wisdom on what to do with the virus now and just decide if we should come back,” Susan said by phone from her home in Brazil. “It looks like we can travel for a while longer, so we’re trying to make some decisions about that. It’s a bit difficult, but we’re just thankful for FaceTime.”

Susan and Rogerio met in Sao Paolo through Athletes in Action, a basketball service that allowed them to share their love for Jesus Christ. Susan was a central striker in Texas and Rogerio would eventually join Master. They remained friends for years while Susan played professionally before dating and getting married, although the appeal was instant.

“He said he wanted to learn English from my mother,” Tim crackled his father, “but she was the only blonde lady, so I don’t buy it.”

The Soares raised their children in a campus setting in Sao Paolo as part of their missionary work, Susan tended them on the facility’s three basketball courts, and Rogerio refused to allow them to shoot a mini-hoop until they showed perfect shape .

Tim Soares of the basketball team at The Master’s College. He was a second-team All-American.

(Darcy Brown)

The siblings were short in stature in their formative years, which is ironic as Tim and Stephanie are among the greatest players of their respective teams. The slowed growth allowed them to develop a guard skills early on, which they can now combine with superior size. Laker’s assistant coach Mike Penberthy, the all-time top scorer at Master’s, has helped Tim perfect his shooting feel.

“It has been different people over the years,” said Susan, “they just had an impact on the kids to help them in different areas.”

There is probably even more basketball to play. Tim hopes to get an invite to an NBA summer league, and his sisters have even more college games ahead. Jessica waits for Stephanie to think in a match after shocking her teammates in practice by lifting the ball over the edge.

“I’m like, Stephanie, in a game, rock the rim,” said Jessica.

That would send the siblings back to their phones and let everyone know the good news.

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