Good team chemistry, they say, often develops when athletes have long played together. Given that truism, two members of Macalester’s women’s basketball team should play together quite smoothly by now.
Co-captains—and twins—Jessica Rene ’12 and Shannon Rene ’12 (Eau Claire, Wis.) have been playing basketball together for 15 years, having joined their first team in second grade. Now they’re an important part of the Macalester team’s recent upward trajectory.
When head coach Ellen Thompson started recruiting the twins, the women’s program was still recovering from its 2004-05 season, when the team disbanded because of a lack of players. Seven years later, the team’s quick turnaround has meant it reached the MIAC playoffs two years in a row and hopes to do the same this season.
Head coach Ellen Thompson gives the twins some of the credit for that rebuilding. “Jess and Shannon have been an integral part of our success,” Thompson says. “They’re very protective of each other, which shows up on the court, and they’re in tune with each other. They are mentors to our younger players.”
The sisters, drawn to Mac by the chance to combine academics with athletics, have grown into key contributors. Last year Jessica received All-MIAC Honorable Mention recognition and was named the college’s Junior Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Shannon started in all 26 games of the 2010-11 season and led the team in assists.
Neither sister can identify a downside to playing together but can easily list the advantages. “I definitely think we have a twin connection on the court,” Jessica says. “Since we’ve been playing together so long, we work really well together. We help each other if part of our game is off.”
This year, making the playoffs won’t be enough for Shannon and Jessica. Both sisters, as well as their teammates, say that their goal is to not only qualify for the playoffs, but to play farther into the tournament during this, their last season of basketball together.
“I love playing with her,” Shannon says. “Our connection is unexplainable—and we have fun confusing the opponents, too.”