The Martins are real living proof that absence does in fact make the heart grow fonder. Twin sisters from Longmont, Colorado, Ashley and Lauren spent their first years of college separated by roughly 450 miles of interstate. Only rarely did they communicate. There were happy birthday exchanges on November 30, but for the most part, they were going about their own lives in different states, far from home.
“We didn’t talk for the first semester at all,” Lauren said. “Not even a ‘Hey.’ I think the first time we talked was on our birthdays at the end of November. It was really the only reason we even reached out. It actually improved our relationship.”
Lauren is now in her second year at Concordia after transferring from St. Cloud State University (Minn.). That decision brought about a reunion with Ashley, who came to Concordia directly out of Silver Creek High School. Together they have helped recreate the magic they produced as high school seniors, like the time they combined on a memorable ‘twin goal.’ Lauren assisted Ashley on a game-winning goal that sunk rival Longmont High School and sewed up a conference championship.
The duo is still giving opponents headaches while terrorizing them on the wings – Ashley as a defender and Lauren in more of an attacking role. Ashley is a two-time all-conference defender and a central figure for two GPAC championship teams. If you missed last week’s GPAC quarterfinal, you missed one of the season’s most brilliant goals. Lauren went upper 90 for a game winner to defeat Morningside.
Those are just the latest chapters of a sisterhood strengthened by soccer – and by that year apart.
“In high school our relationship really struggled just because we were constantly competing,” Ashley said. “College was an opportunity to get away from each other. Then the opportunity arose for Lauren to come here when she was transferring. It went so well the first year of college and we were so much closer that I was like, ‘Yes, come here.’”
Lauren didn’t feel like she necessarily needed Ashley’s approval, but it certainly helped smoothen the process. Head coach Greg Henson first noticed Ashley at a camp in Kansas during her junior year of high school. What stood out most about Ashley was her high-energy, high-intensity style on the field. Ashley and Lauren both visited the Concordia campus before making their final decisions.
At first, Lauren felt like a big school atmosphere was the right way to go. Perhaps it was at the time, but here the Martins are together again. Henson is glad it worked out that way.
“They’re a dynamic duo in a lot of different ways,” Henson said. “They obviously know each other very, very well. Sometimes that’s a positive. Sometimes that can mean too much intensity on one side of the field. Generally speaking, it’s a positive having those two together. When we do match those two up on the same side of the field, what a nightmare it creates for the opposing team.”
Amidst the scenic painting-like ranges of The Flatirons in the Boulder, Colorado, area, the Martins began playing soccer about as early as their memories stretch. Both Ashley and Lauren also played hockey. Lauren especially liked the pace and physicality of hockey. Though soccer hadn’t necessarily been in the family’s background, Ashley and Lauren were coached by their father Scott as youths. They fell in love with the sport that also fostered many of their childhood friendships. Soccer remained a constant as they worked their way up the ranks and eventually joined the FC Boulder club.
Through it all, there have been just two instances in which the twins did not play for the same soccer team. Even as teammates, there has always been a sibling rivalry. Said Ashley, “Lauren and I were always constant competitors because we always wanted to be the best. I don’t think either one of us would have said it when we were little, but I think we can both see now that we pushed each other to be the players we are today. Without her, I wouldn’t be the same player that I am. That competition made me want to be the best person I could be. I wanted to beat Lauren and say that I was better than Lauren.”
It's almost as if some magnetic field keeps pulling the Martin twins together. They’re even living with each other this school year. It’s quite a leap for sisters that seemed so ready to take diverging paths following their high school careers.
“It’s actually not that bad,” said Lauren jokingly in response to again living with Ashley. “We have different schedules and ways to escape with different friends and groups. We have different majors too, so there’s ways to escape if we need it.”
On the other hand, there is no escape from the Martins for Concordia’s opposition. They will lead the Bulldogs into Friday’s (Nov. 10) GPAC tournament championship game. When kickoff arrives, Hastings will have to deal with a Concordia starting 11 that includes both Ashley and Lauren.
Bulldog Stadium will be the place to be on Friday – as it has proven to be all along for the Martin twins. “This is the place,” says Lauren when reflecting upon her journey. “After going to a big school, I really enjoy it here. Seeing Ashley have success here her freshman year and the way she was enjoying the team made me want to come. It made me desire to be here and be part of what the soccer team was achieving.”
Ashley and Lauren share a bond that is different from their relationships with any of their other teammates. Sometimes they argue. Sometimes they fight. Sometimes they get sick of each other. Often times they play soccer together. Always, they will love each other.
Says Ashley, “Lauren and I know each other the best of anyone. It’s because we’re so close that we do bicker sometimes. We’ve had a lifetime to build up annoyances between each other. I don’t think people realize how close we are because we do bicker. We’re twins and we’ve lived our whole lives together.”