Deerfield High twins bring sense of family to court
In basketball, a team can become a close-knit group, almost like another family. This bond is even stronger when there are sisters on the same court.
"Olivia and I love being on the same team," Deerfield High girls' basketball player Rachel Elkes told the Lake County Gazette about playing with her twin sister, Olivia. "We are always working hard in practice or in games, but you can't be perfect. When you start not being perfect, traveling or turning the ball over, Olivia telling me to get my head on straight -- and vice versa -- really helps me out."
Rachel and Olivia are juniors for the Warriors, and fraternal twins. Rachel is 5-foot-9 and plays the wing or the post, depending on what's needed. Olivia is 5-foot-7 and more of a true wing shooter.
The two have played on the same teams for more than five years. While some might think they have the so-called "twin telepathy," Rachel said it's that shared experience that gives them a special kind of communication.
"We are each other's go-to people: if Olivia gets stuck she looks for me, and when I get stuck I look for her," Rachel said. "Now I can read Olivia during plays just by looking at her. When she raises her eyebrows, I know she wants me to post-up; and when I part my lips, she knows not to throw me the ball. The unspoken communication between Olivia and I really helps us on the basketball court."
However, that closeness is not showing the results on the court the two would like to see. The season has seen blowout losses (such as a 61-29 loss to Fremd in November), and razor-thin ones (in a recent game, the Warriors fell by just a point to Mundelein, 34-33). While it's tough to persevere through such a difficult season, the Elkes twins are keeping their heads up.
"Every single day has to be a new day," Rachel said. "We cannot let a loss the day before effect the way our practices go, or future games. As a team, and as individuals, the Deerfield program works our butts off everyday in practice. We learn new things every day that we try and apply to our games. Olivia and I continue to pick up the energy and drive that sometimes our teammates seem to lack. We have the winning attitude that we are rubbing onto our teammates."
Going into their senior seasons at Deerfield, the Elkes look to continue to provide leadership and determination for the Warriors team.
"Olivia and I are going to continue to show our leadership on and off the court for the remainder of our junior year and upcoming senior year," Rachel said. "Our motivation and work in the off-season is going to be prevalent in our senior season. We are going to continue to push our teammates. Next year, Olivia and I are going to welcome the new juniors and push our team to be as strong and disciplined as possible -- and we cannot wait."
Helping that will be the sense of family, both literal and figurative, that has formed on the Deerfield basketball court.
"Olivia and I bring laughter, motivation and commitment to practice and to the games every time we step on the court," Rachel said. "Deerfield High School does a great job with making the girls in the program feel like a family, and I think that Olivia and I help on the aspect of making everyone feel like a family. Whether it is pasta parties or team activities, we are always creating a family environment and making every single person feel like a part of the team."