Jacob McConnell and his brother, Joe McConnell, face competition more than just at “game time.” The twins are sons of Brad and Ann McConnell and both have participated in football, basketball and baseball in all four years of high school and currently are waiting for their senior season of baseball to begin.
“Everything is way more competitive as twins because we want to be able to brag about what happened at practice or in a game when we get home at night,” Jacob said. “Being a twin, we also always have a partner to play with, run with, play one-on-one with, and someone to just challenge.”
And even though being a twin is fun, Jacob admits it can sometimes be difficult, “because we argue with each other because neither of us likes to be wrong,” he said. “We’ve both been leaders in sports so the arguments we get in aren’t about big things, but rather small things that no one else probably cares about.”
“The other side of having your twin on the same team is the joy that it brings when you win. Winning a regional in basketball was so special because our team felt like a brotherhood, but with Joe and me, we were literally brothers so it made it even more special and something we can talk about forever.”
Jacob’s favorite sport is basketball and his reason is “because of the excitement that it brings all of the time. Something is always going on, so you always have to be engaged in the game.”
Home games in the Geneseo High School gym were his favorite, he said, “Because this year we had huge crowds of fans at the games.”
“On senior night, the gym was completely full and there’s nothing like running out from the locker room to a packed gym that’s there to see you play,” he said. “Hearing the crowd roar when you make a great play is also one of the best feelings and other sports don’t get to experience that feeling. “
Even if there is no spring season, the multi-sport athlete will be able to take with him the friendships he has made in athletics.
“One of the major reasons I enjoy athletics so much is because of the friendships I’ve made,” he said. “Almost all of my friends have been made through athletics whether it was at a young age or just in the past couple of years. The friendship that I have with Joseph (twin brother) is there no matter what, but my friendship with Isaiah Rivera for example has just been strengthened because we share a common dedication and love for basketball. Danny Ford joined the basketball team this year because he wanted to be around Joseph, Isaiah and myself and just wanted to be on the team. The friendships I’ve built through athletics have been amazing.”
The McConnell twins became involved in sports at a young age and Jacob said, “I stated playing football in second or third grade and I started playing basketball as far back as I can remember because our Mom goes to the Community Center every day and we would tag along and play in the gym. I’ve been a huge Chicago Cubs fan my whole life so I started throwing a baseball probably when I was around four years old.”
He was the quarterback on the Geneseo varsity football team this last season, played guard in basketball and is a pitcher and outfielder in baseball.
His workout routine continues, although much different than if he was practicing with the high school baseball team.
“My workout routine over break includes taking my dogs on a lot of walks and running three to four miles a day to try to stay in the best shape possible,” he said. “It’s a lot of in-home workouts without a lot of weight because we don’t have access to all of the equipment we usually have. Although this situation is bad, Joe and I have tried to make the best of it by looking at how we can improve our fitness, whether that means diet, workouts or anything. We both gave up sweets for Lent.”
In regard to E-learning, Jacob said it has “definitely been unique because I think it’s actually more work than what we were doing while we were in school. Preparing for AP tests on your own is difficult because you don’t know if you are studying the correct way compared to everyone else or if you’re studying enough and if it’s the right material. It’s also way more difficult to understand some assignments and be able to ask questions and get the answer that you’re looking for because emails are hard to determine what the teacher means, and it is sometimes difficult to ask your question in a way that will get the answer you’re looking for.”
Joe McConnell is hoping to have a spring baseball season, but trying not to get his hopes up.
“With everything that could be taken away – our last weeks of school – prom, graduation – it seems like our whole senior year is kind of disappearing,” he said.
Joe, and twin brother Jacob, have been three-sport athletes during their high school years at Geneseo High School, football, basketball and baseball. They are the sons of Bard and Ann McConnell and the twins will be attending Bradley University in Peoria in August where they both have chosen mechanical engineering as majors. Joe plans to minor in mathematics.
College begins Aug. 26 for the twins.
Becoming a notable athlete, Joe first had to overcome some difficulties. Although he was never seriously injured in sports, McConnell faced major injuries when he was involved in a car accident while in seventh grade.
He broke his ankle, knee and hip and underwent two surgeries during an eight-month period and spent more than six months in a wheelchair or on crutches.
“However, I never let it stop me and I was eager to get back to sports as soon as I could,” he said. “I’m thankful that these injuries never stopped me from being able to play the sports that I love once in high school. If anything, it taught me that sports can be taken away form you in an instant, something that we’re witnessing as a world right now.”
Football is his favorite sport, and he said, “There’s something special about playing on Friday nights that nothing else can beat. That being said, I still really enjoy playing basketball and baseball.”
Joe cited having played basketball with standout Isaiah Rivera since years in the Geneseo Community Center League “has made us closer than what would have been possible without sports. Danny Ford also came back this year (to basketball) which was exciting, because Jacob, Isaiah, Danny and I spend a lot of time together.”
Like his brother, Joe finds that being a twin “is more competitive, but it made both of us better. We definitely push each other to be better. Football was especially unique for us because I was the center and Jacob was the quarterback. I also believe that being together helped us both become better leaders because we could talk about sports with each other whenever we wanted. This was proven when we were both football and basketball captains.”
“If this quarantine has taught me anything, it’s that I’m used to be having a schedule that’s packed with practices and games, and I’m planning to keep that up in college,” McConnell said.
The current shelter-in-place order has made it difficult for athletes to continue their workouts at schools or gyms and McConnell said he even though he does not have weights at home, he has tried to keep up his endurance by running every day.
“Most days I run a minimum of three miles, although it’s usually somewhere between four and five miles. I also have been taking my dogs on daily walks, somewhere between one and three miles.”
“We also have a stationary bike in our basement that I ride, too, but that’s my last resort, if it’s raining,” he said.
In regard to E-learning, Joe said, “It has been a learning experience. It’s been harder for me to keep track of assignments, given that different teachers use different ways of contacting us. However, it’s also taught me to be more independent, something that will be useful in college. I am most worried about my AP Calculus test in May. They have changed the format of all the AP tests, so nobody knows what to expect. I really want to pass it, because it would give me college credit for Calculus 1 and 2.”