Golden Tigers' twin towers
Franklin County Times
Even though it can be annoying, Russellville High School seniors Lindsey and Derryl Gardner can understand why people have difficulty telling them apart.
That's because the Gardners are identical twins – Lindsey is older by five minutes – and teammates on the Russellville varsity volleyball team.
"People getting us mixed up is annoying," said Lindsey Gardner with a laugh. "Not the people who don't know us – people like our friends, who have known us a long time, and our coach and teachers."
The Gardners play the same position (right hitter), work the same job (Speedy Pig cashier), belong to the same clubs (FBLA, National Honor Society and SADD) and edit the same publication (school yearbook). And they both stand about 5-10 and have the same shoulder-length brown hair and bright smiles.
"I do have trouble telling them apart, but when I see them, they have their hair in a ponytail and they're always moving and playing," said Russellville coach Charlotte Dollar. "Lindsey has a birthmark on her left leg and Derryl has pierced ears, but it's a lot easier when they're in uniform. I tell them I call my own kids the wrong name all the time, too."
The Gardners used to enjoy confusing people with their identical appearance, but they stopped after they left Russellville Middle School.
"We haven't tried that since middle school," Lindsey Gardner said. "We used to do it a lot in Mr. Brownell's eighth-grade science class at RMS."
There are other advantages to being twins, especially on the volleyball court.
"When we play together, we know what each other is thinking," Derryl Gardner said. "We always know what the other one is going to do."
"I'm the only person who knows how she's feeling after a game," Lindsey Gardner added.
Both sisters said they liked to compete with each other, academically and athletically.
"We are very competitive in everything," said Derryl Gardner, who is ranked No. 8 academically in her class, while Lindsey is less than a point ahead at No. 4.
In addition to having different best friends and musical tastes – Lindsey prefers country, while Derryl loves R&B and rap – they also have contrasting personalities.
"Our personalities are so different," Lindsey Gardner said.
"I'm more outgoing," said Derryl Gardner, who described her sister as more laid-back.
The twins have already decided to attend separate colleges, at least during freshman year.
"My mom and I are big Auburn fans," Derryl Gardner said. "I'm going to Auburn next year, so it's like of like two dreams fulfilled in one. And I'm ready for a change of scenery."
Lindsey Gardner said she wanted to attend a school near home, so she chose the University of North Alabama in Florence, which is less than hour away.
"I want to get my GPA up my first year of school," said Lindsey Gardner, who plans to study either engineering or secondary math. "And I don't want to be far away from home, although I might transfer."
Despite spending so much time together at work, school and practice, the sisters said they still like to spend time together, with one exception.
"We do everything together, except on the weekends," said Derryl Gardner, who plans to study mathematics to become a college professor. "When we go to Florence, we split up. I'll go to Logan's and Lindsey will go to Casa. Or I'll go bowling, and she'll be at the movies."
Dollar has coached the Gardners for the past four seasons, and praised their abilities on and off the court.
"I've coached them since they were in ninth grade, and I couldn't ask for better kids," Dollar said. "They both have great height to help up front at the net, and they're very upbeat with their teammates and very cooperative and respectful with me.
"They both have great grades, and they've already taken some college classes."
Dollar has set the bar high for the team this season, thanks to a team that features five seniors, including Lindsey and Derryl Gardner, setter Anne-Marie Hall, defensive specialist Irma Lopez and setter Calli Davis.
"These are the most experience seniors that I have coached here," Dollar said. "So I have the most expectations with this team, and I think this team could finish with the first winning season (since 1978) and make it to regionals."