For some student-athletes, the pursuit of athletic goals is a passion project, however, for some it is a stepping stone, providing a platform to learn important lessons and light the path to higher goals.
For sophomores Joshleen and Justine Ayson found them in volleyball at an impressionable time in their lives, skeptical at first, they now embrace it and hope to use it to further their college careers and achieve their ultimate goal of help those in need.
Born March 28, 1998 in Berkeley, the identical twins were born just two minutes apart. Joshleen was the first to 11:57 and Justine followed at 11:59 p.m.
The twins attended Helms Middle School where they were introduced to volleyball in eighth grade.
“We didn’t want to play because we thought it would hurt, but our mom kind of forced us to do it,” Joshleen said. “We talked to the coach and she convinced us we would get used to it, so after that we were like – let’s go.”
The two girls then attended Richmond High School, where they graduated in 2015. The twins have both played on the varsity volleyball team from their sophomore year.
“I also played badminton, but I quit in second grade to prioritize volleyball,” said Justine.
The Ayson twins both won two player of the game awards each in their senior year while playing for the Richmond Oilers.
“They are so kind and helpful, great friends and great listeners. I’ve known them for three years, ”said Comet right passer Rosa Olivar. “We played on the same team at Richmond High, I was new and had no friends. They helped me a lot and taught me things I needed to know about the game.
From an early age, the two daughters dreamed of working in fields that helped people in times of need. Justine wants to be a doctor and Joshleen wants to be a veterinarian.
“I’ve known them since they were in second year in Richmond (high school) and they’re more mature now. In high school they would get angry over little things and their emotions got the better of them, ”said volleyball coach Christy Tianero. “Now it’s less common and it’s easier to talk to them through things. “
College has never been on the radar for Joshleen. Before graduating from high school, she saw herself joining the Air Force.
“I have family who served in the armed forces and both of our parents influenced us to go,” she said.
Having an identical twin brings a lot of unwanted attention and early in the girls’ lives they angered bullies who followed them into their high school years.
“We were easy targets,” Joshleen said. “In college, people wanted to be in a crowd and thought just to impress people they thought were their friends.”
Justine has her own theory which differs little from her sister’s assumptions.
“After joining the sports teams, everyone knew who we were,” she said. “It didn’t help that we were twins – it made us stand out more. “
They both said everything that happened was related to volleyball, from middle school to high school and even a little beyond.
One of their current Comet teammates was among the girl group who bullied them in high school.
“We used to be cool before anything happened in high school, but she was influenced by the same people who bullied her,” Joshleen said. “It’s a social cycle – most bullies used to be bullied. “
Few people knew about this chapter in the history of the team, not even the coach.
“I didn’t know this was happening until Joshleen told me about it,” Tianero said. “I told her she’s a student now, it’s a different life. Both of them talked about it and now it’s behind them.
After years of bullying and coming out stronger now that it’s over, feelings of wanting to help others have been reinforced as goals in the two girls’ future plans.
“I always put others before me, good or bad, I help who I can,” said Justine. “Good things happen to good people, so if I help people, good things will happen to me. “
Despite the thread of selflessness that connects them, the twins have completely different personalities.
Joshleen is more vocal and outgoing while Justine takes a measured and more cerebral approach to things.
With bullying in the rearview mirror, now at CCC, the two sophomores experience what it means to be socially stress free at school.
“There is more freedom,” Joshleen said. “We can grow up and be surrounded by people who want to do better. “