Wisconsin athletes makes Pride women’s basketball a ‘Sister Act’

A pair of sisters who have played basketball with each other for nearly all of their lives face a different type of relationship this season. 

Payton Courier, a former forward, is a student assistant coach under fourth-year head women’s basketball coach Courtney Locke. Her younger sister, Reagan, is in her junior season on the team. 

The switch from player to coach has been a fun ride for Payton — thus far. 

“It’s been very different for me,” Payton said. “I was on the team last year with a lot of the girls. I’m still best friends with all of them, but also have to hold them accountable. I definitely had to get used to that.”

Reagan, a guard on the PNW Pride, is delighted that she gets a front-row seat to the beginning of her sister’s coaching career. 

“I think it’s really special that I get to experience this with her,” the junior guard said. “She will do anything for anyone on this team. I really thought that her not being on the team was going to change a lot of things, but it’s even better with the support she brings. It’s been really fun.”

Both sisters have had to learn to flip a switch between how they treat each other on the court and how they treat each other off it. 

“Being a coach … I can’t treat Reagan any different because she’s my sister,” Payton said. “If she’s not doing what she is supposed to be doing, I have to be a coach and do my job. I’m friends with the girls but they know that I will not just let them slide on things.”

Her sister understands the change.

“It’s definitely different,” Reagan said. “I feel like it’s just a respect thing. It’s my sister but I have to respect the things she says. If I’m mad during a game, like I know I have been, I need to just treat her like it would be Coach Locke.” 

Both look to utilize their studies in the sports field after college. 

Regan, a Marketing major, is not seeking a coaching gig but still wants to stay in athletics. Payton, a Biology major, plans to get her bachelor’s degree in May and become a graduate assistant for the team next year. 

“I plan to get more experience in the sports industry and see where it takes me,” she said. 

Reagan and Payton’s love for sports stems from their family, with two older sisters who also played college sports. All four sisters played basketball at some point, pushing each other to be the best player possible. 

There were instances where some of the sisters would team up. 

Regan and Payton played together on their Big Foot High School basketball team in Walworth, Wisconsin. During their two seasons together, in Payton’s senior year, they won a regional title. 

“[My favorite basketball moment] would have to be winning that regional title,” Payton said. “It was really fun because our high school hadn’t won a regional title for a long time. It was just a big thing for the school and the team. 

“Being able to do that with her was definitely a whole different experience that not many people get to have,” she said. “I also got to experience part of Reagan’s journey, her scoring her 1,000th point.”

The sisters were named to all-conference and all-area teams. Reagan also broke the high school’s career and single-game women’s scoring record. 

The two started their college basketball playing careers at different schools, with Reagan spending her freshman season at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, while Payton played her first three seasons at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. 

Not playing together proved difficult for the sisters. 

“[Drury] was eight hours away from home, so I was definitely freaking out,” Reagan said. “I obviously had to call my family every day. It was a struggle being so far from home since family is the biggest thing.”

Payton was also uneasy.

“Being away from my siblings, it was definitely scary,” she said. “I did know a couple of people going into [Western Illinois] which kind of helped. I knew I was going to miss playing with Reagan.”

The two reunited at PNW last season. 

“It all circled back,” Payton said. “We were not expecting it at all. Reagan was in the transfer portal before me. We then realized that we should try to go to the same school. We ended up touring here at PNW and coach wanted both of us. I am very grateful and happy that it worked out for us the way that it did.”

Sharing a court just felt familiar.

“I still remember the first game that Payton and I played together here,” Reagan said. “It just brought back so many memories from high school and our early childhood. It’s definitely a great memory that I will keep forever.”