By GEMMA SPICKA-PROFFIT
Freshman twin brothers Da’Shawn and Ra’Shawn Cook are new athletes on the UMW men’s basketball team this year, and they are no strangers to accusations of twin telepathy.
“[Playing with a twin] is different,” said Ra’Shawn. “If I was playing on a court with a random, I wouldn’t know where they’re going to be. On the court, I always know where [Da’Shawn] is going to be.”
Da’Shawn added that he can tell when one of Ra’Shawn’s shots is going in just by seeing how it comes off of his hand.
However, twin telepathy is not the reason these brothers work so well together. They have had many years to learn each other’s techniques since they have been playing basketball together since they were ten years old. “It’s basically like if you’re best friends with someone, and you’ve always been playing with them,” explained Ra’Shawn.
Growing up, the Cooks played many sports together, including baseball, football, soccer, and golf. Their dad is the one who taught them how to play basketball.
“Basketball was the first sport to give me that thrill. I love getting on the court, I love the feeling of playing basketball, I love hearing a basketball bounce. I could play it anytime, any day,” said Ra’Shawn.
“I mean I like football, I like watching it, I like playing it, but I just love basketball,” said Da’Shawn. “Out of all the sports I played, basketball always stood out.”
The brothers agree that their most proud moment together has been winning the state championship in high school.
In their junior year, “all of the seniors had graduated,” said Ra’Shawn, “so me, Da’Shawn, and another guy had to become leaders as juniors, and we ended up winning it.”
“I think we’ve always been leaders because in our freshman year in high school we were on varsity, and we’ve been on varsity ever since,” said Da’Shawn. “I love to lead the team. Even though I’m not a captain, I want to have a voice. Everybody on our team now has a voice, and anybody on our team could be a leader.”
Throughout their expansive sports careers, their family has been huge supporters. “They’ve been to all our games, ever since we’ve been playing sports,” said Da’Shawn. “Even golf, they were on the cart riding around watching us. My parents, grandmother, sometimes my cousins or aunts — they all want to watch us play.”
When the Cooks were preparing for college, they knew they wanted to come to the same school. They chose Mary Washington because it fit what they were looking for “academic-wise, basketball-wise, and environment-wise,” said Ra’Shawn. He also likes DIII because “the classroom comes first” for him.
“The coaching staff also played a big part in our decision on coming to Mary Washington,” said Da’Shawn. “I really felt like they wanted us, and they showed that they cared about us. I love Coach Khan, Coach Sansone and Coach Bell. This just feels like home.”
“The hardest thing to do [since being in college] was adjusting to being in a different environment, on a different team, and have a different style play,” said Ra’Shawn, to which Da’Shawn clarified that college basketball games are faster paced and longer than high school games.
“Mary Washington doesn’t feel DIII basketball-wise. We work hard like a DI team,” said Ra’Shawn. “We work 24/7, train in the off-season, and when we’re in the season, we’re still in the weight room. In practice, you have to go 100% every day. It’s like a job.”
“Even though it’s DIII, there’s still good players on the teams,” said Da’Shawn. “You can’t just come out to a bad team and think ‘oh, we don’t have to play that hard because we’ll beat them.’ You have to play hard against every team because they’re all college basketball players.”
Both twins agree that the transition to college has not been too hard because they were both prepared by their many years of playing sports competitively while attending school.
“The only difference is, in college, you have a lot of freedom and a lot of downtime, so you gotta be on your stuff. You don’t have your parents on you at all times,” said Ra’Shawn.
One thing that has not changed in college are their jersey numbers. “In high school, we were one and two,” said Da’Shawn. “Once we got to college, those were open numbers and we asked coach if we could get those numbers. He wanted us to have them, too.”
Another factor that has stayed the same in college for these twins is that they are still able to live together, sharing a dorm on campus. This is convenient because of their similar basketball schedules and their ability to share clothes.
“We’re basically the same person,” said Da’Shawn.
“Same height, same shoe size,” added Ra’Shawn. “We have got a lot of clothes and shoes. We have like, thirty pairs of shoes.”
“Our biggest difference is that he’s more talkative,” said Da’Shawn. “I’m more quiet and laid back. The only time I’m really loud is on the court.”
“Yeah he’s more nonchalant,” agreed Ra’Shawn. “If we go out to a random environment, I’m the first person to always talk. I’m just a talkative person, and I like to meet new people.”
“If you’ve known us for a while, you can really tell who we are. Even if we had the same haircut, you could probably tell,” said Da’Shawn.
“We’re fraternal twins so we look alike, but we have certain differences,” said Ra’Shawn.
So far, the Men’s Basketball team is having a successful season with a 14-4 record overall and a 6-1 record in conference, including wins against #18 CNU and #24 Salisbury. The Cooks feel hopeful about the rest of the season.
“We’re all doing good things. If we keep playing like this, I see big things ahead,” said Da’Shawn.