Venus and Serena Williams, meet Catherine and Dolores Wildner... and Kelsy Heiser... and Georgie and Tricia Kutrumanes. And while the tennis sisters have won numerous Grand Slam tennis titles, they have nothing on the St. Ambrose volleyball quintet, as the Wildners, Heiser and the Kutrumaneses are twins.
A set of twins is surprising to people. Two sets of twins is found to be unfathomable to some people. For St. Ambrose's women's volleyball team, twins are dotting the roster and it isn't uncommon to have a pair on the court at the same time.
Sophomores Catherine (left) and Dolores Wildner (right), both standing at 5-foot-8 inches tall from Oak Park, Ill., both start for the Queen Bees. Last season, Catherine and Dolores both contributed almost equally, with 478 digs in 161 sets played and 416 digs in 148 sets played, respectively. While both twins may appear identical, there are some differences.
"We played together our whole life, and it was great already knowing a person on the first day. It's nice to yell at one another sometimes, even though we're super close," Catherine said. "I'm the bossier twin, she's more reasonable. She's cleaner than me, but is also a suck up, especially to our mom."
Though their friends and family are able to figure out who is who between the two, it took head coach Bruce Billingsley a year to figure out which was which.
Pictured (from left to right): #32 Tricia Kutrumanes, #8 Catherine Wildner, #4 Kelsy Heiser, #10 Dolores Wildner and #31 Georgie Kutrumanes
"It took a year to tell them apart. Their voices are different, but if one of them is standing there, I have a hard time telling them apart," Billingsley said. "On the court at least there are numbers, but with everyday street clothes, it's hard to tell them apart."
Billingsley suggested that while neither of the Wildners is more vocal on the volleyball court, they do exert leadership on a daily basis in their own way.
"Catherine has the strongest on-the-court presence because when she's on the court, she's the setter, but if you want to get something done, you go to Dolores," Billingsley said. "They are both the kind of person who works hard every day, and are both leaders."
As if it wasn't confusing enough for Billingsley, who never has had this many twins throughout his 18 years of coaching volleyball, junior setter Kelsy Heiser transferred into SAU from Illinois Central College and it was discovered that she had a twin who played volleyball as well who helped win the 2009 NJCAA National Women's Volleyball Tournament. Kelsy and her twin are more different than the Wildners since they aren't identical and are also different personality-wise.
"I'm more outgoing, and she's real shy," Kelsy said. "We used to joke in our family about how shy she was and how I would always order her food. My twin doesn't show her shyness while she's playing because she has to be vocal."
As kids, Kelsy explained that she and her twin would sometimes dress similar, and when they went to school, they would constantly fight about who wore what. They didn't want to be like the normal twin stereotype, so they decided to be their own person. To this date, that independence is still evident.
"She is more conservative and I'm more of the trouble maker," Heiser said. "I rebel more against my parents, but she is too scared to go against my parents."
That rebellious attitude doesn't translate into a vocal presence on the court, but does allow her to make solid contributions as Billingsley describes her as "a quiet, get-the-job-done player."
Giving people another double take are right-side hitter Georgie (left) and setter Tricia Kutrumanes (right), both standing 5-foot-9 inches tall from Elk Grove, Ill., who are in their second year of competition with the SAU junior varsity team.
"Sometimes people ask if we're just the same," Tricia said. "We tell them that we have different positions so we can't relate to one being better than the other."
Teammate Catherine Wildner indicated that unlike Heiser and her twin, that they do a lot of the same things and are close, while Billingsley found the twins to be out going and "in charge."
"The Kutrumanes twins are outgoing, but both would say that they are in charge of each other," Billingsley said. "When I recruited the Wildners, Catherine would say that Dolores was the boss."
The twins have helped St. Ambrose to a 10-5 start, including a 3-0 win at #19 Olivet Nazarene, this season. The Kutrumanes twins and the SAU JV team are off to an impressive 12-4 start.
Ross Meister is a SAU sports information department assistant who has a twin sister and twin brothers who play varsity football and baseball at SAU.