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More than just teammates: Volleyball twins embark on third season

Originally published in the September 24, 2010 issue

There are few bonds that are stronger than the bond between teammates, except maybe the bond between siblings.

Now make it twin sisters who play the same position on the same volleyball team and you have the relationship between Rachelle and Genevieve Dejean.

As they grew up in Naperville,  the two sisters were kids with what seemed to be an endless amount of energy.

”We did volleyball, basketball and track. We even did cheerleading,” Rachelle said. “I could play basketball. I’m fast, but all I could do was steal the ball and not shoot very well.”

Since their early childhood, they have been competing with each other. With competiveness within the family, the two have been able to form a situation where they can both learn from each other.

“I looked to her for advice,” Rachelle said of Genevieve. “She sees what I’m doing wrong-what I can improve on and at the same time I’m doing the same for her.”

As the years went by, the girls who did everything slowly started dedicating their time and effort solely to volleyball.

“I devoted so much time to it,” said Genevieve. “It just made sense. It fit for me.”

“It was just one of those things that we enjoyed the most and excelled the most in,” Rachelle said.

Rachelle and Genevieve, with their speed and compact stature, were named two of the best defenders by the Daily Herald.

Both were also academic all-conference selections. Their mix of athletic skill and academic excellence led them to where they are today.

“When we were considering schools, we were looking at the opportunities before us, like a great academic program,” Rachelle said. “Which Bradley obviously excels in. “

Although recruited by a previous coaching staff, Rachelle and Genevieve knew Bradley was the place for them.

“We just kind of knew we were going to school together,” Genevieve said. “When we visited campus, we fell in love with it.” 

When they arrived at Bradley as freshmen in the fall of 2008, their arena was not up to the standards of many other colleges.

“Our first year we had to play at ICC and we were sharing lockers with the girls from the ICC team,” Genevieve said. “We finally have our own locker room which is really nice. The atmosphere is so much better at the new arena.”

Still, they were competing for the same position on the same team. One would think that competition at this level of collegiate sport could cause strife in a relationship, but it’s not so with these sisters.

“Whatever it comes down to,”  Rachelle said. “Whoever beats the other one out, it’s not taken to heart.”

Like all the student athletes on campus, Rachelle and Genevieve to spend a lot of time balancing athletics with academics, they don’t let that stand in the way of their creativity.

“I’m really into art, painting and graphic design,” Rachelle said. “I took an art class over summer break. I was doing anything else I could do to be creative.”

Genevieve’s interests are a little different than her sister’s.

“I read a lot over summer, “ said Genevieve. “I know it’s dorky, but I just love it.”

Together, they are able to find a balance with everything college students have to deal with, but just like it was in high school and grade school before it, the competition between the two of them is still enjoyed.

“It’s definitely challenging,” Rachelle said. “Not only competing with someone at your position, but competing with someone that you’ve lived with all of your life.”

“She’s my sister,”  Genevieve added.  “It just makes us want to do better. It helps us compete better.”

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