Twinning is Winning Two pairs of twins share their athletic experience

Alyson "Aly" and Katelyn "KD" Lee, basketball

By Anita Liu

All photos by Anita Liu

It all started with a Fisher-Price basketball hoop in senior twins Alyson “Aly” and Katelyn “KD” Lee’s backyard. They started playing basketball with it when they were just four, quickly earning them the nickname “young ballers.” The two have continued to shoot hoops together ever since, and they recently wrapped up their final season with Lowell’s varsity girls basketball team.

Aly and KD look almost identical, but they differ in two main ways: their heights and personalities. KD is two inches taller than Aly and much more reserved, while Aly is more outgoing. When they were younger, coaches and teammates used to confuse the two. “When they were subbing us in, [they would call] ‘KD! No, Aly!’ If you’re looking at me, I’m going in,” Aly said. “Sometimes it’s like ‘Get your sister.’”

Timeline of the teams that the Lee twins have played on. Graphic by Anita Liu

Unlike many siblings, the twins get along together and work as a unit on the court. “When we’re thinking about the same thing, we’re both going to get it, like no saying no to us,” KD said. “We don’t work against each other.”

However, the twins are also very competitive against each other off the court, which helps to push their performance as a duo to a higher level. For example, Aly once completed a workout slower than KD and had to run a “suicide lap.”

Aly (left) and KD (right) have been balling together since they were 4.

According to Aly and KD, playing on a sports team with a twin is different than just playing with an ordinary teammate – there is a stronger type of chemistry present. On the court, Aly will tend to pass the ball to KD even if there are other teammates around her, because she knows that KD will get the ball. “There’s just a different amount of trust [on the court],” Aly said. Another one of the most rewarding parts of playing with a twin is knowing exactly what play the other will perform.

The twins had played on teams together throughout their lives, but during their sophomore year, they split up. Both Aly and KD had the option to move from the JV girls basketball up to varsity, but while Aly decided to stay behind in JV, KD decided to take the leap and play for varsity. Both said that it was a good experience, but that it was weird. They were used to always playing in games together, but now they were watching each other play. “I think that was the right option for both of us,” Aly said. She was able to gain confidence and be challenged as a leader, whereas KD was at a higher skill level and ready to pick up more difficult plays.

Aly and KD were starters in the 2019 CIF State Championships Round 1 game. Top: KD gets fouled on the shot, also known as an "and one". Bottom: Aly drives the ball towards the basketball away from her opponents.

Aly and KD have also used their advantages as twins off the basketball court. KD once had to be at a meeting, but she was busy playing at basketball games for colleges in Los Angeles. So, Aly volunteered to pretend to be KD at the meeting. “In my head, I was like, ‘You’re not Aly, you’re not Aly,’” she said. “I got up in front of the class and was like ‘Hi, I’m Aly.’” Several people became suspicious, but no one could tell for sure if it was Aly or KD.

In the 2018-19 season, KD won the title of California Interscholastic Federation San Francisco Section’s “Player of the Year” and Aly earned a spot on the All-League First Team. Both Aly and KD are planning to attend UC Davis next fall. Although KD was scouted to play for college teams, she decided to not play college ball and instead see what else life has to offer. However, both hope to at least play intramural basketball.

Aly and KD work together to defend their opponents in the 2019 CIF State Championships Round 2 game.

Dakota and Dylan O'Brien, track and field

By Io Gilman

All photos by Susan Wong

Sophomore twins Dylan and Dakota O’Brien were born a minute apart. However, since they are fraternal, people don’t always know that they are twins. Dylan’s hair is light brown and curly, whereas Dakota’s is darker brown and straight. Their interests and personalities are not all the same either–Dylan plays the violin, Dakota plays the trumpet. Dylan is more reserved, Dakota is more talkative. However, they are united by their athletic talent.

Dylan and Dakota have both been running track since middle school, when Dylan ran the 200m and Dakota ran the 400m. When they started high school track, Dylan started running the 100m in addition to the 200m.

In addition to their individual events, they also run relays on the Lowell track team together. This year, Dylan will be running the third leg of the 4x400m relay in the Frosh-Soph division at All-City Finals, and will be handing the baton off to Dakota to finish off the race. Additionally, they will be running the 4x100m relay together at All-City, Dylan as the second leg, and Dakota as the anchor in the fourth leg.

Stats from the O' Brien twins track season. Records as of May, 21, 2019. Graphic by Susan Wong

Not only do they run, the twins have also been playing on the same soccer team since they were three, so they have lots of experience working together. “I think it helps that we’re related. We just know each other really well, so it’s easier,” Dakota said. “I know him so I know what most likely he’s going to do.”

The twins describe their relationship as “pretty close.” One time, when they were around six or seven, their parents woke up because they heard Dylan and Dakota talking to each other in the middle of the night. “Apparently we were passed out and sleep-talking to each other,” Dakota said. In addition to living together, they also spend much of their free time at school with each other. This semester, they share an off block with their group of friends.

Left: Dakota comes out of the starting blocks in the frosh-soph boys division 400m at All-City Trials. Right: Dylan finishes the second leg of the 4x400 relay at the last home meet.

According to Dylan, many people only know that they are related when they see their track hoodies with the same last name on them. “Mostly the first thing they think is cousins and then we tell them, and then they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, wow,’” Dylan said.

Though siblings can often be competitive, Dylan and Dakota aren’t. This is partially because they are good at different events; Dakota typically excels in longer distance events and Dylan in shorter distance events. Since they are rarely in direct competition with each other, when they are competitive it is mostly in a joking way. “I’ll sometimes be like, ‘I’m going to run your event and beat you,’ but I know that I’m not going to beat him,” Dakota said.

This year, for the first time, Dylan and Dakota will be running against each other at All-City Finals. They will be competing in the 200m, which has typically been Dylan’s event. As of now, during practice, Dylan is a second faster than Dakota, which is a considerable difference in a short-distance event. Even though it seems as if Dakota is going to lose, Dakota is not upset about it. “Most likely he wins, unless I pull something out of the hat and beat him,” Dakota said, “I’m okay with that, I can accept it.”

Top: Dakota leads in his heat in the 200m dash at All-City Trials. Bottom: Dylan, the number-one seed for the 100m dash, was disqualified at All-City Trials due to a false start. He was only able to run the 200m dash, but he was able to hit a personal record of a 23.38 in the 200m. They ran in the same race at All-City Finals, where Dylan placed first and Dakota placed third.

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