‘Versatility and Experience’: Loyola’s Nolan Twins Look to Make an Impact Both On and Off the Court

After transferring from Saint John’s University to join Head Coach Allison Guth in her inaugural season, twin seniors Emma and Sophia Nolan have brought experience, energy and versatility to the Loyola women’s basketball team.

After the departure of several key players at the end of the 2021-22 season, Allison Guth, the head coach of Loyola’s women’s basketball team, was tasked with filling seven positions on the roster. Being a new coach herself, Guth brought in three first-year new recruits as well as transferring seniors and twin sisters, Emma and Sophia Nolan. 

Guth discussed the rapid impact the twins had in terms of their on-court abilities and the strengths they could offer the team.

“Immediately what excited us was their size,” Guth said. “In the A-10, we needed some size and some ability to score from beyond the arc and have some versatility to score at the rim as well. We knew that their length would be well utilized in our defense.”

Both standing at 6-foot-1, Sophia plays dual positions as both a shooting guard and small forward with Emma at small forward. Although Emma is out for the rest of the season with a fractured thumb, being identical provides its own advantages when the two are on the court.

“One major benefit is that when coach puts us in together, so many teams get confused,” Emma said. “It offers us a lot of opportunities to score on those instances when they’re arguing about who they’re guarding.”

Beginning the recruitment process with previous Head Coach Kate Achter before her departure, the twins said they almost immediately reached a decision that transferring to Loyola was still the right fit after consistent communication with Guth, an in-person visit and the opportunity to continue their academic careers.

Before Loyola, the Nolans experienced prolific high school careers at Marquette Catholic High School in Michigan City, Indiana, earning IBCA Senior All-State Supreme 15 Honors and made Second Team AP All-State before attending St. John’s University in New York City. 

Over the course of their three years at St. John’s, the twins took part in helping their team to back-to-back appearances in the Women’s Big East Quarterfinals before entering the transfer portal.

According to Emma Nolan, the transition from the East Coast back to the Midwest was a relatively simple task. She said that the outreach of Guth and her coaching staff, their supportive parents and an efficient U-Haul helped ease their move into Chicago.

The twins’ new teammates also played a vital role in helping them adjust swiftly, making sure to communicate right after move-in, according to Sophia Nolan.

“The girls were very welcoming on our first day here,” Sophia Nolan said. “Some of them reached out and came over, we all got to hang out and got to know each other, and they were super helpful on the court.”

Their energy has been visible, as evidenced by fellow senior guard Sam Galanopolous, who acknowledged the twins’ ability to channel their intensity and experience, even outside of games.

“They are always screaming, whether it’s in practice or in a game,” Galanopoulous said. “That’s needed, because they have the experience. Aside from our four seniors that are in the original group, we need that experience, and they brought it instantly.” 

Off the court, the senior duo are currently pursuing majors at the Quinlan School of Business, Emma Nolan studying marketing and Sophia Nolan in management. Both said they plan to take advantage of Loyola’s one-year master’s program following the end of the spring semester. 

While managing their athletic, educational and mentorship duties, the twins have also been active in utilizing the NCAA’s name, image and likeness policy to serve as brand ambassadors for the popular digital media company Barstool Sports. They also run their own clothing brand, which they said allows them to remain representative of their twin identity. 

“We have a clothing brand, and it says born together hoop together, 414 on the t-shirts and hoodies,” said Emma Nolan. “The numbers are our basketball numbers forward and backwards 41 and 14 and we wanted our basketball numbers to represent the specific type of twin we are.”

The twins said they are looking forward to upcoming road trips, including their return to the East coast when they visit Fordham University in New York Feb. 4, where they expressed their excitement in hopefully seeing old friends at their games. 

The Loyola women’s basketball team will take on Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, Feb. 8. Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on ESPN+. 

Alexander Sciarra

Alexander Sciarra