At Florida Tech, Two of a Kind … Times Three

By  //  June 8, 2014

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Three Sets of Twins Competed For the Panthers During the 2013-14 Sports Season

LEFT TO RIGHT: Randy and Melissa Echols, Ashley and Alyson Vezina, and Linus and Hampus Rikardsson (Amanda Stratford image)

LEFT TO RIGHT: Randy and Melissa Echols, Ashley and Alyson Vezina, and Linus and Hampus Rikardsson (Amanda Stratford image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – In a shared glance, one can tell what the other is thinking … and what move is about to come next.

Opponents and opposing fans get them confused all the time, even though they’re wearing different jersey numbers.

Yep, it’s a twins thing. And it played out in triplicate this past season in the Florida Tech Athletics Department.

While some athletic programs may have one set of twins in their athletics department, Florida Tech had three this past season.

LINUS AND HAMPUS RIKARDSSON

Sport: Soccer
Year: Graduate students Age: 24
Majors: Master of Business Administration

Linus and Hampus Rikardsson

Linus and Hampus Rikardsson

The identical twins from Norrkoping, Sweden, have been playing soccer together all of their lives, which has led to some confusion on the pitch.

“I’ve heard opponents and people in the crowd (say), ‘How can that guy be everywhere? He’s running everywhere!’ Linus said. “Then they find out about 15 or 20 minutes into the game … ‘Oh, they’re twins.’”

The brothers are always together, and even have similar taste in … well, just about everything.

Maybe it’s a twins thing, or perhaps it’s because they have played together for so long, but they can usually tell what the other one is thinking just by eye contact.

Though their playing styles are similar, there is one way to tell them apart. Linus – who is the youngest by three minutes – worked so hard on using his left foot to become a more balanced player that it is now his dominant side. Hampus is stronger on the right side.

After playing at Florida Tech in 2011 while working on their undergraduate degrees, they spent a semester in Barcelona, returned to Sweden and then came back to Florida Tech to earn their MBAs. They graduated in May.

While being away from home has been tough, they are now fluent in three languages and even spent Christmas in the Dominican Republic, visiting friends they met at Florida Tech.

Depending on where their career paths take them, they would consider playing soccer together again in Sweden one day.

ASHLEY AND ALYSON VEZINA

Sport: Women’s Soccer, Track & Field
Year: Sophomore Ages: 19
Majors: Ashley – Chemical Engineering; Alyson – Molecular Biology

Ashley and Alyson Vezina

Ashley and Alyson Vezina

When Ashley and Alyson were born, their parents used bracelets to tell them apart.

As kids, the identical twins liked to change soccer jerseys or pull a fast one on their teachers by switching classes and sitting in the same seat. There was one teacher who could not tell them apart through four years of high school.

Perhaps he should have watched them run.

“People say they can tell us apart by how we run, but we’re not sure what the difference is,” said Alyson, who is one minute younger.

Like the Rikardsson twins, the Vezinas are always together. But if they’re wearing the same shirt, it’s an accident as they try not to match.

Ashley likes ‘chick flicks’ and romantic comedies while Alyson would rather watch “300” or another action movie.
Soccer is their main sport, but since coming to Florida Tech at the start of the 2012-13 academic year, they have begun running track and even do the same events – the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Ashley said of being a twin. “There’s something about having a best friend. I don’t think you can get any closer than what we are.

“… It’s definitely really cool to be (somewhere) where we both get our academics and can do the sports that we love.”

MELISSA AND RANDY ECHOLS

Sport: Basketball
Year: Junior  Ages: 21
Majors: Melissa – Applied Behavior Analysis; Randy – Psychology

Melissa and Randy Echols

Melissa and Randy Echols

From marathon card games where they each tried to be the last one to win to trying to better the other one’s accomplishments on the basketball court, Melissa and Randy have always pushed each other.

When they were young, Randy played center and envied how Melissa could hit jumpers from everywhere. That inspired him to work on his perimeter game. When Randy began to dunk in seventh grade, Melissa (older by two minutes) worked until she could grab the rim.

Just don’t ask which one is the better shooter.

“We are trying not to argue about this,” Melissa said. “We agree to disagree, basically.”

Not so fast, her brother chimed in.

“Here’s the thing about that … ever since she went and blatantly told everybody she’s a better shooter than me, I’ve asked her two questions – when have you ever beaten me in a shooting contest, and when are we going to do another one?” he grinned. “She has yet to answer both of those.”

While they may not agree on who the better shooter is, there is one thing they can both agree on – Florida Tech has changed their lives for the better.

“Where we’re from, it’s definitely not as diverse as it is here,” Melissa said. “We’re interacting with different people from so many different places … it’s definitely shaped our character. Coming here, I’ve realized what I want to do with my life (work with autistic children).

“I’ve met so many great people, so many great professors. I have a class size of six, and it’s a class for my major, which is Applied Behavior Analysis. We’ve been in class since our freshman year, so we all know each other. We know what everybody wants to do. It’s really great. We all help each other with advice. I really love it.”


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