Rachel Perrone in the women's basketball game against Misericordia University, Feb. 4, 2013. (Photo by Lee Ferris, Mount Saint Mary College)

by John Buckridge

Twin sisters usually share a lot growing up together. They may share toys, clothes, or maybe even a bedroom. The Perrone sisters of Mount Saint Mary College , Rachel and Jessica, also happen to share a strong appetite for success, not only on the basketball court, but in the classroom as well. When these athletically-gifted siblings aren’t leading their Knights to victory, they’re on top of their studies and maintaining their high GPAs.

The obvious question is; do these sisters do more competing against each other, or cheering each other on?  When sitting down with them, a sense of camaraderie was immediately apparent. They explained that it’s about “50/50,” as they always strive to be better than the other, but at the same time, enjoy seeing the other succeed. The team practices are where most of their sibling rivalry takes place.

“At the end of the day, we always have each other’s back. Seeing her do well feels like we both are,” Jessica explained. She even went as far as admitting that her sister Rachel is better than her.

It’s always been that way for the Perrone sisters. They have gone through every game and every practice together, almost attached at the hip. Since their days at Arlington High School in Poughquag, NY, these twins have had each other’s back, excelling in both basketball and volleyball. Although they played on varsity volleyball for all four years of high school, they both ultimately chose basketball as their primary sport to participate in during college.

“We come from a real basketball family and we’ve always enjoyed playing for our travel team from middle school for the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization).”

These gifted collegiate basketball players were not always Knights. They began their collegiate career at SUNY Purchase, playing for the Panthers. Rachel and Jessica transferred to the Mount after three semesters at Purchase and had to adjust quickly. Not only did they switch schools and teams, but they did so halfway through their sophomore year and halfway through the basketball season. This may have fazed the average athlete, but these sisters put the Panthers behind them and started their new careers as Knights in style, both playing major roles in the team’s success.

When asked how it feels to play Purchase now, they both explained that it’s nice to see their old teammates but it feels extra sweet to beat them, like they did earlier this season in January, when the Knights beat the Panthers by a score of 77-67.

In her first season at the Mount, Rachel was rewarded for not only her efforts on the court, but for her efforts in the classroom, as she was named a Skyline Conference Scholar-Athlete.

“It really is a great feeling to be recognized for everything you do and all your hard work,” she said of the honor.

The next year, Rachel went on to enjoy an impressive season that proved to be a personal best. She was named to the Skyline All-Conference First Team and recorded 345 total points and 212 total rebounds. When asked what she felt was her strongest attribute on the court, Rachel explained that she was an ambidextrous shooter, able to shoot both right- and left-handed.

Basketball is not the only thing these girls excel in. They pride themselves on their school work. Both are education majors with a  focus on K-2 special-education students.

Like many in the same major would, Rachel and Jessica have all the same classes. Despite the amount of time spent together, the Perrone twins manage to not get sick of each other. They admit they grow tired of each other at some points, but the bond they share is far too strong to let anything get in the way.

Both Rachel and Jessica share the mentality that they are students first. This mentality is supported by their head coach, Michael Coppolino who stresses that school work always takes priority. The sisters are perfectionists, as they take pride in not settling for average grades and always strive for an A, which is reflected by yet another thing they share–4.0 GPAs.

If these ladies schedules were not hectic enough, they also lend their time to helping out at day camps during their summer vacations; Future Stars Basketball Camp in Southampton, Long Island and Pawling’s Day Camp in Pawling, NY .  At Future Stars, they lend their knowledge and teach their skills to up-and-coming young basketball players.

The sense of sisterhood is evident in these gifted student athletes. If any freshman athlete can take anything from them, it is their dedication. Rachel explains that it can get stressful juggling a sport and good grades, but remember that the grades take precedence and should hold the majority of the focus.