Most people already look up to the volunteer coaches of the United States Youth Volleyball League. In Lake Oswego, Oregon however, twin sisters Ann and Claire Recht have taken things to a whole new level. These girls don’t need to work at turning heads. At 6’7”, the coaching duo is hard to miss. Yes, these twins are tall. They are, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the tallest female twins in the world. And when these young ladies depart this fall for pre-season collegiate training, they will leave the USYVL with a similarly tall order to be filled.
Growing up in the small town of Canby, Oregon, Ann and Claire received their first exposure to volleyball at a local high school game while still in the sixth grade. Inclined by curiosity, the twins signed on to play the following year. In an environment where good players were defined by their ability to simply send the ball into the opposing court, the twins began to develop a feel for the game. But in the summer before their freshman year, these adolescents became aware that the game seemed to develop just as rapidly as they could adapt to it.
At Volleyball Camp they discovered that volleyball had positions! When asked their favorite, the reply was simple. “We said middle back.” “Yeah, we could pass.” But reality comes about fast in high school. “Later on in the week we soon found out that we would be playing a front row position, and that would require hitting and blocking, all new concepts for us.”
Jennifer Bolger, Head Clinician at Lake Oswego, remembers the first time she saw the girls play. “I saw them play in high school last fall. They were pretty raw, their high school setter set AROUND them.” Like all USYVL sites, Lake Oswego is made possible by volunteer support. Bolger takes it a step further. Her efforts have reached beyond her own USYVL site in order to help coach a group of local high school players, of which the twins are a part. The improvement has been notable. Through teaching the very skills that the twins will need to succeed in their own athletic endeavors, they have shaped themselves into better players as well. Both Ann and Claire agreed that as they develop as coaches, they further develop as players. To teach is to learn twice, they say. Bolger was enthusiastic in her responses regarding the twins. When asked what she loves most about working with Ann and Claire, she replied that they simply demonstrate what’s best about the game. They are very passionate. “The kids love them. The parents love them. They haven't played much longer than some of the kids, so they're perfect for each other.” Asking the duo about what they enjoy about working with such an organization, their reply is both refreshing and modest. This is an opportunity neither of these girls had growing up. “We like that they start so young, but mostly that they’re having fun. [The USYVL] will definitely help them grow as volleyball players and individuals.” The growth that these exceptional twins have demonstrated, on and off the court, is really the heart of what the USYVL is all about. “It has helped us to be supportive and patient towards the younger people in our lives. It makes us appreciate our own coach more and increases our teaching skills.”
The girls have since committed themselves to American University, and will continue their athletic and personal development there. Their height has been a key. But the qualities that can’t be measured are what really make them stand out in this crowd.