Twins serve it up on volleyball court


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Sophomores Justine (left) and Joshleen (right) Ayson are starters for the 2017 Comet volleyball team.

By Rob Clinton, Sports Editor

For some student athletes the pursuit of athletic goals is a project of passion, however, for some it’s a stepping stone, providing a platform to learn important lessons and light the path toward loftier goals.

For sophomores Joshleen and Justine Ayson volleyball found them 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 helping people in need.

Born March 28, 1998 in Berkeley, the identical twins were born just two minutes apart. Joshleen was first at 11:57 and Justine followed at 11:59 p.m.

The twins attended Helms Middle school where they were first introduced to volleyball in the eighth grade.

“We didn’t want to play because we thought that it would hurt but our mom kinda forced us to do it,” Joshleen said. “We talked to the coach and she convinced us that we’d get used to it so after that we were like  — let’s go for it.”

Both girls went on to attend Richmond High School where they graduated in 2015. The twins both played on the varsity volleyball team beginning in their sophomore year.

“I also played badminton but I stopped in my sophomore year to prioritize volleyball,” Justine said.

The Ayson twins both earned two player of the game awards each in their senior year while playing for the Richmond Oilers.

“They are so nice and helpful, very good friends and good listeners. I’ve known them for three years,” Comet right setter Rosa Olivar said. “We played on the same team at Richmond high, I was new and didn’t have any friends. They helped me a lot and taught me things that I needed to know about the game.”

From a young age both girls had dreams of working in fields that helped people in their time of need. Justine wants to be a doctor and Joshleen wants to be a veterinarian.

“I’ve known them since they were in their sophomore year at Richmond (High School) and they are more mature now. Back in high school they would get mad over little things and their emotions would just take over,” volleyball coach Christy Tianero said. “Now it’s less frequent and it’s easier to talk them through things.”

College was never on the radar for Joshleen. Before high school graduation she saw herself joining the Air Force.

“I have family that 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 provoked the ire of bullies which followed them deep into their high school years.

“We were easy targets,” Joshleen said. “In middle school people wanted to be in the in crowd and did mean things just to impress people that they thought were their friends.”

Justine has her own theory that varies little from the assumptions of her sister.

“After we joined 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 volleyball related, from middle school to high school and even a little beyond.

One of their current Comet teammates was part of the group of girls that 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 used to bully her,” Joshleen said. “It’s a social cycle — most bullied used to get bullied.”

There aren’t many people that knew this chapter of the team’s history, not even the coach.

“I didn’t know it was going on until Joshleen told me about it,” Tianero said “I told her that she is a college student now, it’s a different life. Both of them talked about it and now it’s behind them.”

After years of being bullied and coming out stronger now that it’s over, the feeling of wanting to help other people has been reinforced as goals in both of the girls future plans.

“I still put other people before me, good or bad I help whoever I can,” Justine said. “Good things come to good people so if I help people good things will happen for me.”

Despite the thread of altruism that connects them, the twins have completely different personalities.

Joshleen is more vocal and extroverted while Justine takes a measured more cerebral approach to things.

With bullying in the rear view mirror, now, at CCC, both sophomores are experiencing what it means to be stress free socially at school.

“There’s more freedom,” Joshleen said. “We get to grow and be around people who want to do better.”