Family Affair Part II: Seeing double with the Gulicks
Cheyenne (left ... we think) and Chawnee Gulick are in their first year at JU. Play Video
Cheyenne (left ... we think) and Chawnee Gulick are in their first year at JU.
JU women’s soccer coach Brian Copham sauntered up to freshman Cheyenne Gulick at practice last week … well, let him pick up the story.

“We had the girls serve balls with a partner over distance and working on driving the ball and hitting the ball on different surfaces of the feet. I walked up to Cheyenne, and I knew it was Cheyenne, as she hit a ball to her partner across the field,’’ Copham recalled. “I said: ‘you serve a much better ball than your sister. Cheyenne can’t kick a ball like that.’ She whipped her head around at me and, of course, I was laughing and said, ‘gotcha.’ She didn’t think it was nearly as funny as I did at the time.’’

For Copham is was a good payback to Gulick, who with her identical twin, Chawnee, has given the coach fits this season trying to figure out who is who.

“I told her that was for trying to trick me at practice when her hair band allegedly broke and she didn’t have it and wore the same color as her sister,’’ he said. “I caught her even though she said it wasn’t a trick.’’

The hair band in question was blue and Cheyenne was to wear it at practice for Copham’s benefit. At one point, however, she reported the ribbon broke and wore the same color as her sister which left Copham not being able to tell them apart. A second blue band from a teammate later was lost, but since Copham now knows his Cheyennes from his Chawnees.

The Gulicks have seen similar scenarios play out all their lives as they not only are virtually identical in looks, they also are inseparable.

“We’ve always confused people,’’ Chawnee, the younger by a minute, said. “That Coach Copham couldn’t tell us apart wasn’t unusual. Only our closest friends can tell us apart.’’

Apparently teachers can’t as the sisters relay a high school story about chemistry class as sophomores.

“She over-enjoyed chemistry,’’ Cheyenne said. “And she wanted to go twice a day.’’ Cheyenne was happy to oblige and we’ll let that story stop there.

That’s how it goes when you are an identical twin and inseparable from your sibling.

“We’ve always done everything together,’’ Chawnee said.

And that includes soccer which they started playing together at 12 and continued through Eau Gallie (Fla.) High School and through to JU.

“It’s not competitive,’’ Chawnee said and to which her sister agreed. “I want her to do better than I do.’’

Toward the end of their high school careers, the Gulicks started looking around at colleges and considered only those that would have them both.

“We knew we wanted to go to college together because we weren’t ready to separate so we looked at colleges that were looking at both of us and we loved it here on our visit,’’ Chawnee said.

“There were a bunch of things about JU,’’ Cheyenne said. “We looked around at some schools for soccer, but when you get that feeling that’s true we both liked it and when we left here we were really happy and knew it was the school.’’

Copham said the adjustment to the twins, other than figuring out which was which, has been relatively easy but concedes they probably haven’t played as much as they would like. He is looking to the spring and beyond to work on that.

“They are very good defenders,’’ Copham said. “They’re physical and not afraid of contact. Unfortunately for them, we have a lot of returners in front of them on defense so the minutes may not be what they want but they both have improved tremendously on the ball and have shown great strides in practice. They’re going to be part of this program and they are going to have an impact. I would expect them to be two of the players this spring who will play a lot and benefit from a spring season.’’

The upcoming Atlantic Sun tournament, which begins for JU Saturday at East Tennessee State, will be a learning experience for the freshmen.

“It may involve some (playing) minutes,’’ he said. “Unfortunately for the the center back (Chawnee) I usually don’t sub center backs and the opportunity to play is not as great as an outside back like her sister. It doesn’t mean one sister is better than the other; it means the position one plays is more likely to be subbed. It’s like in football with a quarterback and running back. You’ll see a running back changed every series whereas the quarterback probably won’t be changed barring injury or lack of production. That’s the difference in the positions.’’

Beyond their playing days, the Gulicks realize the day may come when they, for the first time, will go their separate ways.

“I think about it but we just don’t know when that will be,’’ Chawnee said. “We haven’t discussed it but we’ve thought about it and definitely don’t want to deal with it.’’

“We know that day will come sometime and we’ll worry about it when it gets here,’’ Cheyenne said. “At some point we have to grow up.’’

- Jim Nasella