Identical twins Kimberly and Rachel Sanders will take the term “sibling rivalry” to a new level Friday when the two will compete against one another for the first time in their athletic careers.
Kimberly, a senior midfielder for the Colonials (2-1), will go head-to-head with her twin sister, Rachel, a defender for host Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio at 4 p.m. GW women’s soccer head coach Tanya Vogel arranged the game against the Bobcats so the twins would have an opportunity to face each other before they graduate.
Although some siblings would feel uncomfortable competing against one another in a Division I soccer game, Sanders said the game will be exciting.
“I’m pumped,” Kimberly said. “I hope Rachel plays well, but I hope we beat her.”
An offensive player, Kimberly is aggressive and always poses a scoring threat. She has started in 16 matches in her collegiate career and played in 17 matches last season. Her sister, a defensive back, has started in 18 games and recorded two points.
Playing opposite each other, Kimberly expects they will be “in each other’s space a lot. I know how she plays and I’ll know if she’s going to win the ball or not.”
Despite this, she won’t let aggression disrupt her performance or her relationship with her sister.
“I’ll just play my game and laugh a lot,” she said. “If we lose, there will be hard feelings, but they won’t be her fault. I just hate to lose.”
Her desire to win will help Kimberly keep her focus intact, a focus she admits she will need against this strong Bobcat squad. Ohio (2-2) defeated Fairfield University 5-1 in its home opener last Friday and won the Mid-American Conference championship last season.
The twins are no strangers to playing on the same field, however, just not on opposite ends. The two were always on the same team on both school and club soccer teams.
“It was easier to be good when someone knew my moves and whether I’d win the play, and it was really fun to always have an ally,” she said. “We were always positive and supported one another.”
And it worked. Both had outstanding soccer careers at Bearden High School and on the Knoxville United Stars growing up in Knoxville, Tenn. Kimberly made the All-State, All-Region and All-District teams and was named Bearden High School’s best midfielder. Rachel made the All-District and All-Region teams, and was a member of the state Olympic-Development team.
Kimberly said she and her sister have remained close through college. This weekend will make for a reunion between the twins and their parents, Steve and Martha, who are eagerly anticipating the game, Kimberly said.
“They’re coming up with aunts, uncles and family friends, and tailgating before the game,” she said.