If you happen to see a young lady in a Rays cheerleading outfit dribbling a basketball between her legs as the boys’ varsity team takes its warmup shots, you might justifiably scratch your head.
But if you were to see four cheerleaders dribbling basketballs you might really wonder what’s going on at Marco Island Academy.
For observers it’s simple: the four girls are the Sweeney and Snover twins; 11th and 10th graders, respectively.
For the girls, it’s quite a bit more challenging, for they have taken on the challenge of playing basketball for the academy’s girls’ team, then immediately running—or dribbling—to the locker room and changing into their cheerleading uniforms for the boys’ game.
“Switching after our basketball game and going right away into the cheer is the most challenging thing,” said Bridget Sweeney, “because we have to be ready, and our hair has to be all up and we have to look presentable because we’re representing our school.”
Jocelyn Snover sees it a bit differently. “I think the biggest challenge is going straight from cheer practice to basketball practice,” she said. “It is so challenging going from school, to cheer, to basketball. And then we go home around, like, nine.”
For Megan Sweeney, it’s more of a personality thing. “I think the biggest challenge for me is switching from my basketball personality to my cheer personality,” Megan said. “I’m so much more competitive and I’m so much more upbeat—I have to be so much more aggressive in basketball. When I’m on the bench, I’ve got to cool down a little bit. Make sure I’m cheering for the boys. Making sure I’m taking what they’re doing into perspective and what I’m doing into perspective. I’m here to support them—bring them up a little—that way they do better. I make sure that I can switch back and forth easily.”
There are a few things all four twins agree on. They all prefer basketball over cheer. They are all loving their experience at Marco Island Academy. And they all agree that they probably will all go their separate ways after high school.
Megan Sweeney is considering a career in law enforcement or the military while her sister Bridget is looking to attend Florida Southwestern after earning enough college credits at MIA to earn her associate degree. She is eyeing a career in nursing. Jocelyn Snover can see herself at the University of Albany someday. Sister Cadence Snover isn’t sure where she may end up after high school. “I could stay, I could go back home, I have no clue,” Cadence mused.
But none of them will be going somewhere together after high school? “Probably not,” they answered in unison.
Travis Barry, a pharmacist on the island, coaches both the boys and girls’ teams at MIA. He’s effusive in his praise of the quartet.
“They started playing in April or May,” Barry said of the girls. “They scrimmaged all the time against Jim Watt’s boys seventh and eighth grade teams all summer. They became basketball players. They’re a pleasure to be around. Thanks to Coach Watt bringing his boys to Mackle Park to play with the girls, they’ve gotten really good. They were barely being able to dribble in April.”