The Oct. 14 loss to Brookfield East ended the Hamilton football team's season and also brought a longstanding tradition to a conclusion. But then again, maybe it didn't.
HHS seniors Katie and Nick Mirasola, who are twins, have always been close. In sixth grade, Katie joined the cheering team for the Sussex Jayhawks. Nick had already played a year in the youth football program, and it marked the beginning of a fall ritual of sorts for the Mirasola family: Katie would cheer on the sidelines, and Nick would play on the field.
Katie, one of two captains on this year's squad, has been on the varsity cheer team since sophomore year. Nick suited up some for the varsity football team as a sophomore and has had an increased role as the years have gone on.
This season, Nick ran for 906 yards and scored a team-high 15 total touchdowns (14 rushing). Katie has been with her brother through it all.
"It's been a lot of fun, but this year has probably been the best year cheering on the sidelines," Katie said. "Nick has been playing a lot more than past years. It's really special knowing that my brother is out there, and I'm able to see him succeeding."
Nick, who was born four minutes before Katie, felt his bond with his sister began at a young age in part because of a decision by their parents, Lora and Joe.
"When we were kids, we did a lot of things together," Nick said. "We didn't really argue or anything. When we were in elementary school (at Lannon), a lot of times, I know parents if they have twins, they'll put the kids in separate classes, but Katie and I have always been in the same class in elementary school. That made our relationship even closer because if we ever needed help with stuff or even if we needed someone to talk to, we know we could rely on the other one."
The two volunteer together through their church at the Lutheran Home and have been together for myriad activities, including being in the same group for pictures and dinner at high school dances the last four years. During the homecoming pep rally this year, Katie and Nick teamed up for a dance performance that featured football players and cheerleaders.
While it's still unclear what their future holds, both have been accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Katie will likely attend there, but Nick is in the midst of weighing his options with possibly playing football at the next level.
The two may even decide to continue what they've done since sixth grade. If Nick decides to attend Oshkosh and play football there, Katie may try out for the cheerleading team. It's a tradition that's gone on for so long, the two may not want to give it up just yet.
"I think a lot of that has to do with going back to elementary school being in the same classes together and having that close relationship together outside of school and at home," Nick said.
Whatever happens in the future, the twins have made enough memories to be happy with what comes next.
"This year, I've made the most memories cheering on the sidelines for Nick," Katie said. "Honestly, I haven't really understood football when I was younger. But definitely this year, especially being captain, I've learned a lot about football. It's made me enjoy it more, especially cheering Nick and the rest of the guys on."