Kim Norris had never come across a situation like the one she faced during tryouts for Lake Norman High’s cheerleading teams last May.
Among the girls trying out were not one, not two, but three sets of identical twins – and all three made the Wildcats’ junior varsity cheerleading squad.
“We heard before tryouts that there was going to be one set of twins,” Norris said. “Then we heard the other two sets of twins were coming out, and I was like, ‘Oh wow!’
“I couldn’t believe this was happening. I’ve never had a set of identical twins, let alone any set of twins. It kinda blew me away. … But I love it.”
The three sets of twins – Jessica and Mackensie Mastor, Samara and Sari Paquette, and Alexis and Elizabeth Smithy, all 15 – came to Lake Norman High after completing studies at Mount Mourne IB Middle.
“They’ve all grown up together,” Norris said. “Their parents are friends, they’ve all gotten braces on at the same time, they’re all connected.”
Yet even the twins – all three sets, who have been friends since grade school – were surprised when they all made Lake Norman’s JV squad.
“When this happened, it was like, ‘Oh, it’s another thing we’re going to do together,’” Sari Paquette said. “We’ve always done stuff together. We all did Acro (Acrofitness, a Mooresville-based gymnastics and tumbling program) together. Most of us were on the same team.”
Elizabeth Smithy said “I was shocked when we all made it. I thought some of us would be on the varsity, and some of us on JV. But I was happy we all made it.”
“It was really exciting,” Mackensie Mastor said. “We’ve been friends for such a long time, so we knew it’d be fun having that group of friends with us.”
While all three sets of twins have competed together in the Acrofitness program, only two of them – Elizabeth Smithy and Samara Paquette – had prior cheerleading experience. Since Mount Mourne IB Middle only fields a baseball team, both were cheerleaders at Brawley Middle (their home school) during football and basketball seasons.
However, since making the cut in May’s tryouts – a five-day long sequence of drills, learning routines and cheers – it’s also created a problem for Norris.
How do you tell them apart?
“It took me a while,” Norris said. “It took me at least a month to get two of the sets (the Paquettes and Smithys). Still, one set (the Mastors), I still have an issue sometimes. If they walked past me in regular clothes, I couldn’t tell them apart. It’s even worse when they’re dressed the same.
“The Smithys, one has freckles on her nose, the other doesn’t. The Paquettes, one has braces, the other doesn’t. But Jessica and Mackensie (Mastors), they’re the ones I can’t tell apart unless they’re in their stunt groups.”
While Norris is learning how to tell the twins apart, another issue will come up in a few months. There will be a new round of tryouts.
That means the twins may not all be cheering together when the 2016 football season commences.
“We all encourage each other to do better,” Samara Paquette said. “Anything that one of us does, we kinda build off of each other, so we encourage the other to work harder.”
Alexis Smithy said “We all encourage each other, but some of us are a lot better than the others. So some of us will probably make the varsity. We might be sad that we’re split up, but we’ll be happy for the ones that made it.”
Jessica Mastor said “It’d probably be more fun if we were all on the same team. But just as everyone gets older, at least one of us will make the varsity. But it’ll still be fun.”
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.