They grew up in Michigan with parents who supported their passions and their non-traditional career routes.
The atmosphere paid huge dividends. Kendra Faustin turned her love of basketball into a coaching career at Niagara while her younger brother, Callard Harris, became an actor.
And as Faustin builds her own family, those are lessons she hopes to model for her own children.
“My parents did an awesome job of raising us to what we love,” Faustin said. “We both have very unconventional careers but we do what we love every day and not everybody gets to say that.”
Callard Harris is currently in the television show “The Originals,” a spinoff of “The Vampire Diaries” on The CW network. He has also been in Sons of Anarchy and the first season of the new Dallas along with numerous guest appearances in other shows.
Faustin, meanwhile, is entering her seventh season as the head coach of the Niagara women’s basketball team. And for the first time in two seasons, she won’t be missing part of the season on maternity leave.
Her oldest son, Cal, turned 2 in early October. Her youngest, Blake, was born last February. Faustin missed the end of the season, including the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, a time of year when her teams usually begin to click and overachieve.
It’s clear when she was gone that her team missed her leadership, passion and connection to the players. But that connection extends well beyond the basketball court.
“When Blake was born, they all came to hospital or the house and saw him. That means a lot to me because they mean a lot to me,” Faustin said. “That was really a special time. It was the same thing when Cal was born. Without a doubt our staff and our team, we are a family and this is given us all a different perspective.”
That different perspective has been immediately evident not only to Faustin but to her players, both current and former.
Step into a practice and you won’t see Faustin flip out at every mistake. She’s more patient now and has a different sense of priorities.
“It’s easier to prioritize what really matters from what’s just silly. Some details are really unimportant and some battles aren’t worth fighting,” Faustin said. “When I didn’t have that perspective, there were battles I fought that now, I look back and say, ‘Who cares? In the bigger picture that didn’t even matter.’
“I found ways to become really efficient and better at communication. … The communication piece is so big. It’s just about being more direct and clear so that we’re all on the same page. We don’t have time to sort through all these issues that aren’t important. Instead, we communicate directly, this is what is important and this is how we get there.”
Faustin said that becoming a new mom twice in the last two years has been a lot about learning to adjust to the drastic changes in her body and mind.
“There are so many changes but I’m no different,” she said. “Every mom goes through it. My job is just a bit more untraditional.”
It might be more untraditional in some ways. Cal, who was born in October, spent the first year of his life regularly making road trips with the Purple Eagles. Faustin is still working on finding the right balance. She enjoys great support from her husband, RJ, who takes the kids to day care in the morning so that Faustin can use early morning hours at the office to watch video and catch up on other work. Meanwhile, she tries to keep a few hours at night work-free for dinner and family time.
“Sometimes it’s easier for me to separate things and keep work at work and home at home,” Faustin said. “It’s about finding that balance and I’m still trying to find that balance.”
And along the way, she thinks about her own childhood, takes the best of what her parents gave her, and makes it her own.
“At this point, we’re so in survival mode, we’re just trying to keep everyone alive,” Faustin joked. “But you look at how you grew up, what you remembered, what you valued and you try to emulate those things. We make our family our own, but with those staples we grew up with.”