Nov. 27, 2012
By Matt Muzza
Navy Sports Information
Varsity practices ended nearly an hour ago, but two athletes can still be seen jogging the road that circles the Rip Miller and Farragut athletic fields.
This corner of the United States Naval Academy is one of the more picturesque scenes on any college campus; waves from the Chesapeake Bay gently lap against the rock wall and dozens of sailboats glide along the water in the background, all just feet away from rows of lined grass and turf practice fields.
As the approaching joggers with blue practice jerseys come closer into view, their seemingly ear-to-ear smiles and matching physical statures may make you think you're seeing double.
Beth and Kathy Young are identical twin sisters who are in the midst of their senior year at the Naval Academy and are standout members of the Navy women's lacrosse team.
Although the two sisters can frequently be seen together on their post-practices jogs, they are by no means inseparable and are not the stereotypical 'attached-at-the-hip' twins.
"We're sisters and we're close, but we're never really clinging to each other," said Beth. "We both have our own lives and interests. But we are lucky to have each other here."
The Young sisters play different positions on the lacrosse field and have different strengths as players. They have different academic majors and are in different companies that reside on opposite sides of Bancroft Hall.
They've had only one class together in their time at the Naval Academy and they've roomed together just once on a team road trip.
And as Beth puts it, "I don't think we even look anything alike."
Most would debate that notion, but the twin sisters do have some small differences in their personalities.
Teammate Emily Mellin has gotten to know the Young sisters well over the past four years.
"Beth is a little more outgoing and more daring and will take more risks than Kathy," Mellin said.
"I think I am a little more spontaneous, maybe a little goofier," says Beth. "Kathy is a little more reserved."
Kathy, the older twin by one minute, is more likely to think things through, and in terms of choosing which college to attend or putting in for a service selection, is more decisive.
"I feel like I make decisions a little calmer and don't get stressed out about it," says Kathy. "Sometimes Beth will wait until the last minute. But once she makes a decision, she always sticks with it."
Regardless of any nuances in their behavior, Beth and Kathy are both always upbeat and are genuinely cheerful people.
"They both have very positive attitudes and they are always smiling," Mellin said. "They always make sure people around them are doing well and they put others before themselves."
With the challenges of balancing academics, athletics and military duties at the academy, it's helpful for the sisters to have each other close by for support.
"It's so nice to have family here and it has brought us even closer together," says Kathy. "Our team is really close together and we have a lot of great friends, but it's just something different to have a sister here. She understands everything and we can relate to each other so well."
Since the two rarely spend time together during the day because of their busy and conflicting schedules, they began a post-practice tradition of jogging together.
"We started doing it every day during plebe year because we never saw each other until after practice," Beth said. "When we come together at practice, we are focused on lacrosse. But after that we'll go for a little run and we can just catch up. It's kind of fun. Sometimes it's just us and other days some of the other girls will join us."
"It's a good slow-down moment after practice," Kathy added. "Sometimes we'll talk about school or if we are frustrated about something. Beth is a good sounding board and I always end the run feeling a little better."
"It's just our time after practice to go for a slow jog," said Beth. "We can de-stress and let everything out. It's something we've done since plebe year so why change it now."
Something else the Youngs have been doing consistently since plebe year is winning lacrosse games. A lot of them.
In the three seasons the Youngs have been at Navy, the team has won three Patriot League Championships and advanced to three NCAA Tournaments. Navy is 50-13 during that span and 15-3 in league games. Navy finished the 2012 season at 18-3 and ranked No. 14 in the national RPI rankings and No. 19 in the deBeer Media Poll.
The team's 50 wins during the Young's tenure is the third-best total in the entire country, behind only Northwestern and Maryland, two teams that have combined to win eight straight national titles.
Beth, Kathy and All-American attacker Jasmine DePompeo are the only Mids who played in all 63 games during this historic three-year run. Kathy has even started all 63 games and Beth has started all but one.
Head coach Cindy Timchal recruited the Philadelphia-area natives out of Villa Maria Academy, where they were both All-Main Line lacrosse players. The Youngs were raised in the suburb of Berywn, just eight miles from Timchal's hometown of Haverford.
Timchal uses Kathy as an attacker and she led the team and ranked 11th in the NCAA with 58 goals last spring. She also ranked second on the team with 76 draw controls and earned a spot on the All-Patriot League First Team. Kathy emerged as the team's top-goal scoring option in 2012 while leading the team with 137 shots.
Kathy helped Navy capture the Patriot League Tournament title by establishing a league record with seven goals in Navy's 18-11 win over Holy Cross in the tournament final at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. She also added three goals in Navy's semifinal win to earn Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
"I was really proud of Kathy when she won MVP," Beth said. "She's not the biggest girl, but she is really tough and she works really hard."
Through her first three seasons in Annapolis, Kathy has scored 132 goals to go along with 130 draw controls and 90 ground balls.
Beth is a midfielder who plays an important role in Navy's offensive, defensive and transition sets. Beth scooped 35 ground balls, caused 16 turnovers and chipped in with 11 goals last season.
Beth ranks among Navy's all-time leaders with 55 career caused turnovers and also has 87 ground balls, 81 draw controls and 20 goals in her career. She led the team with 19 caused turnovers and also had 27 ground balls as a sophomore in 2011.
As an attacker, Kathy plays more of a 'glory' position and has earned a number of accolades. In addition to her first-team all-league and tournament MVP honors last spring, she earned all-league second-team honors as a sophomore. Kathy has also twice earned national team of the week honors.
Beth is also an all-league caliber player, but without the gaudy offensive statistics, sometimes her body of work can be overlooked when the postseason awards are handed out. However, her sister Kathy knows how valuable her play is to the team.
"Beth is a great defender and is very tough and so resilient out there," Kathy said. "She is a workhorse on the field and she never gets tired."
Beth is Navy's top defensive midfielder and helped the team rank sixth in the country in scoring defense last spring.
One thing the twins routinely do together on the field is track down loose balls off draw controls. The NCAA tweaked its rules prior to last season, permitting only two players from each team to be on the draw circle. It was an easy choice for Timchal to put the two hardworking twin sisters on the circle.
With Loren Generi taking the draw and the Young twins hustling after every ball, Navy ranked sixth in the country with over 15 draw controls per game. Their play on the circle was a key part in Navy routinely winning the battle of possession.
Not only have the Youngs excelled on the lacrosse field at Navy, they are also standouts in the classroom for a program that has a 100 percent NCAA student-athlete graduation rate.
Kathy is an ocean engineering major with a 3.56 cumulative grade-point average. She has been named to the Superintendent's List three times and the Commandant's List in all six of her semesters at Navy. She also ranks ninth in Military Order of Merit among 1,089 classmates in the Class of 2013.
"Our school sets a good structure for us," says Kathy. "I really enjoy the academics here and what I'm studying, so it makes it exciting to go to class."
Kathy has twice been named to the Patriot League All-Academic Team and was selected to the IWLCA Academic Honor Roll in 2012.
Beth is a naval architecture major with a 3.34 cumulative grade-point average. She has been named to the Commandant's List in all six of her semesters and the Superintendent's List twice. Beth is a two-time Patriot League Academic Honor Roll recipient.
"There is a great balance at the Naval Academy between academics and athletics," Beth said. "There are a ton of really smart students here and when I have off periods I try to get help from my classmates or teachers.
"I do have some late nights, but I don't mind that. I really love my major and playing a sport keeps you busy, but it also makes you manage your time better."
Although they have yet to learn their service assignments, both Beth and Kathy have put in for surface warfare. They also both have an interest in laterally transferring later in their Naval careers to engineering duty officers. Engineering runs deep in the Young family.
"My dad and my brother are both engineers, as well as some of my aunts and uncles," Beth said. "I know there are a lot of awesome engineering jobs out there and it's a good skill to take into the real world."
Before the Youngs begin their careers as military officers, they will look to help Navy to a fourth straight Patriot League title and NCAA Tournament berth in the 2013 season.
"We know we have to take things one step at a time," Kathy said. "But we are very driven. We have a great senior class that is all on the same page and we just want to keep raising our game. It's really been an exciting journey to be on."