How the Cavinder Twins Blew Up the Student-Athlete Playbook

“When we transferred, you didn’t have a sense of control,” Hanna says now. “We didn’t know about minutes, we didn’t know about what it was gonna look like. So what did we clench onto? I think a lot of females do this. You don’t have control, so you’re gonna clench onto food.”

Things came to a head during their visit home for Christmas last season. Hanna’s health started to deteriorate; her hair and nails had become brittle, and she was missing periods. More broadly, Haley says, they were both completely zapped of energy: “If you’re not fueling your body the right way as an athlete, it’s draining. It’s hard to stay focused.” Back in Coral Gables a few weeks later, the girls reached out to a nutritionist, and started a long, ongoing journey back to healthier eating habits. On World Eating Disorders Action Day in early June, they came forward about their struggles in a YouTube video.

“We had to stare in the mirror and really reflect on [ourselves] and be like, What do you want to do? Do you wanna help people? Do you wanna keep lying to yourself?” Hanna says. “It had nothing to do with brands, anything like that. I wanted to show people, this is truly us. This is a different side of the Cavinder twins.”

“I think that also, being female athletes, it’s so hard in that world,” Haley says.

“Yeah,” Hanna says faintly.

“It is so hard. Social media, with comparison and stuff, it all plays a role,” Haley continues. “What are your coaches saying? What’s your family saying?”

“What are people online commenting?” Hanna adds.

“It’s all this stuff,” Haley says. “And Hanna and I got wrapped up in it.”

“We’re still not fixed either,” Hanna says. “I’m not gonna sit here and say that.”

They find themselves at a fascinating, new inflection point, forging a potential path for the NCAA’s women athletes in the NIL era. They are learning about the joys and frustrations that road brings as they go.

A few times in our conversation, Haley uses the phrase “fills my cup,” something I’ve heard her say in other interviews and YouTube videos. I ask what she means by it.

“I think that in the space of social media, there’s a lot of things that are temporary that can fill your cup and make you feel empty,” she says. “Those are all temporary things. I get stuck in it too! The lights, the following, the comparison. But I like to think of what keeps me grounded, fills my cup. And that’s going on my walks in my morning, my devotional, fitness, getting my workouts in. That fills my cup.”

It’s the idea of finding meaning in her life, I suggest.

“Yeah, like meaning,” she says. “What’s my identity? You know? What’s my identity without basketball and my platform?

Photography by Jenny Abrams
Makeup by Taryll Atkins using Koh Gen Do & Chanel
Hair by MJ Snyder

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