Ashlyn and Caitlyn Baggett. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 12:01 PM
Since birth, Ashlyn and Caitlyn Baggett have been duplicates.
But by raising their jerseys to the Burton Coliseum rafters on Thursday night, McNeese State sent the message that what the twin sisters accomplished in Cowgirls uniforms will never be duplicated. They were the first jerseys retired in McNeese women’s basketball history.
Of the seven championship and postseason banners lined to the right of their numbers 10 and 11, the Baggetts are largely responsible for the six that were raised after 1986.
“It’s next to all our tournament ones, so that shows how many great teammates we had,” Ashlyn said.
“Without those,” said Caitlyn, “Our banners wouldn’t be up.”
It was certainly a moment no one could have seen coming when the sisters left the team and the game after their freshman seasons.
“Never could we know what a day like this would be,” Caitlyn said. “We couldn’t see what it would take to win conference. And never this moment. We couldn’t imagine this.”
As it turned out, that time off — an unconventional redshirt year — was what they needed to refocus into becoming the most unconventional players the program has ever seen.
“We grew up a lot that year,” Ashlyn said. “You have something that you love, then you take a break from it and miss it a lot. You mature a lot, appreciate it more, play with more passion. You take things for granted, but when you get that second chance you never look back.”
Ironically, the honor of being remembered together in perpetuity comes in the first year of life the twins have ever spent apart.
They’re in the same line of work, nursing, but in different places.
Caitlyn stayed in Lake Charles while Ashlyn ventured to Houston to work at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
It will be a temporary arrangement.
“Twin withdrawl is rough,” Ashlyn said. “I had to try it. I had to get away from everything to appreciate it again.”
It used to be the only way you could tell the two apart was by jersey number, but even that has changed. There’s no mistaking them now, with Ashlyn’s short-cropped, dark brown hair a stark contrast to Caitlyn’s long, dyed-blonde locks.
Why didn’t they make it this easy before?
“We just wanted fix our hair for tonight,” Ashlyn said.
“We can’t have it all sweaty now,” Caitlyn pointed out.
A more pertinent question is whether this is indeed the final chapter of the Baggetts and basketball?
Coaching runs in the family, with father Stan building a small-school power at Iota High. The love of the sport pulled the Baggetts back in once before, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think it could happen again.
But it’ll be awhile.
“I feel like we can close a chapter and there was no regrets,” Caitlyn said. “It’s the end of a great story and the beginning of a new life.”
She pointed toward her former teammates.
“Now it’s their tradition.”
“Maybe we’ll teach our kids one day,” Ashlyn said. “But we’re done for ourselves.”
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Alex Hickey covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org