By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – "Bleed Purple" and "Cap Fam" have become popular rallying cries around Capital University, but for sisters and women's basketball players Annika and Elli Wachtman, those slogans flood into their bloodline.
For the Wachtman and Troutman families, Capital University did not just serve as a gateway to a better life through higher education. Capital forever bridged together the Wachtman and the Troutman families, creating a lasting legacy that spans more than 110 years and continues to this day.
From their earliest memories, Annika and Elli Wachtman remember their rooms painted in purple, Capital clothing consuming their closets and attending homecoming events prior to ever setting foot on a court or in the classroom.
The Wachtman sisters are fifth-generation Capital students, proudly following the footsteps of so many family members before them. The Upper Arlington, Ohio natives have a document detailing their families' involvement with Capital. By their count, 34 additional family members have graduated or are attending Capital University.
This ongoing legacy started with their great-great grandfather and 1906 graduate, Rev. Dr. Arthur Krause. He then returned and earned a degree from the Capital Seminary in 1909, as well. He marks the first documented member of the Wachtman family to pass through the Capital gates. The first member of the Troutman family is recorded as having graduated from CU in 1926. That distinction goes to their great-grandfather, Rev. George L. Troutman, who also returned for his degree from the Seminary, which he earned in 1929.
The branches of this family tree that intersect at Capital are many and span nine different decades. In that time only a few have represented Cap Athletics, but in a big way. The Wachtman's maternal grandfather, George E. Troutman '58, was a four-year football player and track & field team member. He holds the school outdoor shot put record set in 1958 with a throw of 55-feet, 6.5 inches, which led him to become the OAC champion in that event that year. He later returned to Capital and joined the football coaching staff during the 1970s. Troutman was posthumously inducted into Capital's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1980.
It was that same year in which his son, also named George, began his Capital career and played football for three seasons.
Annika and Elli's parents, Melea (Troutman) '86 and Rev. Steve D. Wachtman '85 S'92, give Capital "the assist" for helping them meet. The story, as told to Annika and Elli, goes that Steve served as an orientation leader to Melea's incoming class. After the introductory phase had completed, Steve, with great persistence, finally convinced Melea to give him a chance later that school year.
The rest is history.
Rev. Wachtman now serves on the Capital Board of Trustees. His father, Don, is a member of the Class of 1961, served as a major gifts officer at CU and has received two different awards for his contributions and service to the university. The Troutman side of the family has so significantly influenced Capital that one of its academic halls bears the family name.
Though the Troutman and Wachtman families have a long line of family members that have attended Capital it was not a sure thing that either sister would choose the Purple and White, even though those colors dominated their childhoods.
Both Annika and Elli, the 2016-17 OAC Freshman of the Year, said they were encouraged to and did explore other options outside of Capital. Ultimately, the strong values and emphasis on family that was vividly present on the Bexley campus and drew them back to a place they called "home" even before committing to Capital.
"It's almost like a 'what came first, the chicken or the egg?' situation," said Annika. "At first I thought I grew up with these strong core family values, and then when I got to Capital I had found those and that's why I fit here [Capital]. But then I started realizing, 'my heritage is from Capital, so maybe Capital shaped my family values, which then just drew me back to Capital."
"I found that Capital was a great home and family in and of itself," said Elli, "so it was just a bonus factor to have that two-year opportunity to play basketball with my sister on top of already being a great school. It was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up."
When Annika and Elli made their final decisions that kept them close to home, family and continuing the Troutman-Wachtman legacy at Capital, one can imagine the positive reactions expressed down the line of family members.
"It was enthusiasm for me rather than just their [general] enthusiasm," said Elli. "It was genuine excitement for us that we will get to create our own Cap experience."
With that, the sisters were told to "go have a blast!"
Four years removed from her initial decision to officially become a member of the Cap Fam, Annika approaches her May graduation with absolutely no regrets in her decision.
"I couldn't picture myself any other place," said Annika. "Capital always felt like home, so when I thought about any other school it didn't feel right … it [Capital] felt like the natural next step."
Though Elli is nearing the halfway point of her collegiate experience, she too looks back on the decision to join the Cap Fam as one of the best she has ever made.
"I couldn't imagine doing anything different. I came here and I immediately was immersed in a group of people that loved me more than I knew was possible," said Elli, passionately. "Through all the adversity I've endured, whether it is growing personally or even on the basketball court with my surgeries, the support has been tremendous to the point that I can't even imagine removing myself from this network."
Annika, fittingly a CU student Admissions Ambassador, is trying to convince a third Wachtman sister on the idea of becoming part of the Cap Fam. Both admit that sister Adrienne is a tremendous athlete and will have many open doors when it's time to choose her path.
"She is getting the same sales pitch we got; pursue your own interests and take your own path," said Annika. "But Capital was my interest and my path because of the way I was raised and the foundation I was raised on."
Like their parents, both Annika and Elli are giving a soft sell and letting the happiness that has blossomed from their decisions speak for itself.