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It’s one thing for basketball players to be double-teamed on the court. It’s another when they actually see double. But opponents of the Patrick Henry girls basketball team have become accustomed to it over the past three seasons.
Meet the Pinder twins, Tyler and Jasmine, the senior leaders of a team currently 9-2, a program that won 23 of 28 games in the calendar year of 2012. They are the best of friends, enjoy both common and separate interests, and, little-known fact, are not identical twins.
“No, actually they are not,” said their mom, Tonia Pinder, who sat down with her daughters and the Herald-Progress for our 2012 Standouts Series. “If you look, even when they were little, Tyler’s face is a little rounder and Jasmine’s a little longer.”
Minute differences aside, one thing they definitely share is a love of, and talent for, basketball. But the road to their existence and unique bond can be traced back nearly a century to New York. Their great-grandparents met and married there, having four daughters. One of those girls later became the mother of Tonia. So, by the time Tonia married and gave birth to Tyler and Jasmine, the matriarch of the family was ready to make a move.
“Wanting to move back to Virginia to be closer to her family, she sold her house in New York, my mother sold hers, too, and moved to Rockville where they bought about 40 acres of land,” Tonia noted. “Our family was the last to come, so when Tyler and Jasmine were a year old, we moved here, too.”
“I remember Grandpa and Daddy watching the [New York] Knicks play on TV,” Tyler recalled.
And the seeds were planted.
By fifth grade, they were playing as much as they could, with first a hoop, and later a “court” in their backyard. But rather than begin their school careers at Liberty Middle in sixth grade, they opted for track.
“Basketball tryouts were the second day of school. It was a new school for us and we were so nervous,” Tyler recalled. “I don’t think we even went to a game in sixth grade.”
That soon changed. The girls added Liberty to their recreational league and AAU play (their father was coaching in recreational league), and, in 2009, arrived on the Patrick Henry varsity roster led by then-new head coach Phillip Cobb. Their freshman season was spent mostly on the bench observing and honing skills in practice. Tyler made the starting lineup in their sophomore season. Jasmine soon arrived on the court, too, her season starting late due to an injury suffered playing powderpuff football. By last season, they were integral spokes in the wheel of the Colonial District regular season champions. Experience from last season has prepared them for their leadership roles this season.
“After last season, we really knew what it takes to win,” Jasmine reflected.
They readily admit that part of that is becoming more vocal.
“We used to be quiet little twins on the team, but not anymore,” Tyler said with a smile.
“It’s our job to help keep the team together, and, with our AAU playing experience, we realized that someone has to step up,” Jasmine said.
Leaders and contributors on the court for a successful program are one thing, but life as a twin is another, and it comes with similarities and differences.
“People assume we like the same things, and we like to do the same things, but we don’t always like the same things,” Tyler said coyly. “Like some foods, [Jasmine] has her favorites…”
Jasmine interrupts with glee, noting, “[Tyler] is picky! I’ll eat anything!”
All the while, Mom smiles and nods her head, while Tyler defends herself.
“I don’t eat spicy foods because they make my stomach hurt,” she proclaims.
They’ve both played the violin since they were in the fifth grade at South Anna Elementary. Tyler, especially, enjoys listening to violin-based classical music. But classmates will see them working separately, Tyler working with the SCA, while Jasmine is busy serving with Senior Class.
When it comes to their futures, for at least the next four years, the Pinders proudly exclaim that they are a package deal. Tyler and Jasmine are currently deciding whether Randolph-Macon or Bridgewater will be their college home. That decision will be based on academics, knowing that life in professional basketball is not in the cards. They will play collegiately.
“We both want to be physical therapists after college,” Jasmine said, noting both will major in biology. “But, I might work somewhere within a hospital, and [Tyler] may work at a clinic.”
“I just can’t take blood,” Tyler noted.
Tyler and Jasmine were most grateful for influences that have placed them where they are today, including Edmund Sherrod, the former VCU star who served as an AAU coach as a trainer for the girls; Carlton “Speedy” Baughman, their first AAU coach who currently heads the program at Maggie Walker Governor’s School; and Richard Stewart, who merged the worlds of athletics and academics to help them better understand the nuances of the game.
“Coach Stewart added math and geometry to our basketball knowledge, helping us better understand angles and that sort of thing,” Tyler noted.
Jasmine and Tyler both have earned 4.0 grade point averages over their four years at Patrick Henry, with their mom proudly, and rightfully, proclaiming how hard her daughters have worked to reach this point.
“Nothing has come to them easy,” she says.
But the best and most satisfying part of the relationship between the Pinder twins comes down to one simple fact.
“They truly are each other’s best friend,” Tonia Pinder noted.
While many people spend their entire lives searching for that best friend, Tyler and Jasmine Pinder have been truly blessed with that gift from the day they were born. And their gift of athleticism and leadership on and off the court, with apologies to New York, has been a great gift to Patrick Henry High School.