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Quite a pair of bears

Twins Tamara and Thalia Tatham are key to Central's fortunes.

By FRANK PASTOR
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 27, 2002


BROOKSVILLE -- One's face is rounder, the other's longer. One likes to wear make-up; the other lifts weights.

But for the past four seasons, identical twins Tamara and Thalia Tatham have meant the same thing to Class 4A, District 7 opponents: trouble.

Double trouble.

Last year, the twins helped Central to its first district championship. Now, as seniors, they have a chance to do something no other Bears' squad has done: win conference and district titles in the same season.

"If we can do that, then this will be the team that all future teams will be compared to as far as what they accomplished on the court," coach Jim Jensen said.

Everything starts with the twins.

Tamara is the only four-year starter and the best setter Central has had since Jensen took over the program in 1997. She will graduate with most, if not all, of the Bears' setting and serving records.

Tamara has more than 1,100 assists in her career and this year became the first Bear to hand out 400 in a season. A 99-percent career server, she had 237 attempts without an error two years ago and has only two miscues in more than 300 attempts this season.

"Tamara might be the player of the year in our conference," Jensen said. "I don't know of anybody that's had a better year than she has."

Thalia started as a setter but was moved to outside hitter as a junior to take advantage of her speed and passing ability. She has more than 100 kills this season and will leave with many of Central's passing records.

"She passes awesome," Tamara said. "You have to have a good pass to have a good set. If she's in the back row, I know I'm going to get an awesome pass so I can make an awesome set."

The two have been inseparable since birth.

Tamara was born at 1:28 a.m. on Sept. 13, 1984. Thalia arrived five minutes later.

Tamara uses her age advantage to get the front seat in the car or money from her parents. Thalia is just as manipulative, using her status as the baby in the family to pout when she doesn't get her way or to get her sister into trouble when the two fight.

Though they have been at Central four years, some people can't tell them apart. As freshmen, they played a prank on a driver's education teacher by switching classes. When the joke had lost its appeal, Tamara excused herself from class and Thalia entered the room -- to the teacher's surprise.

"He was like, "Huh?' " Tamara said. "Then (Thalia) walked in, and he was like, "Oh, you little devils.' "

Though they look alike, there are subtle differences in the twins' appearance. Tamara's face is rounder, Thalia's longer. Tamara has a freckle in the corner of her right eye.

But the biggest giveaway is their attitudes.

"They can tell as soon as we start talking," Thalia said.

Thalia likes to wear make-up and fix her hair. Tamara enjoys weightlifting. But no matter how much time she spends in the weight room, Tamara's muscles are no bigger than her sister's, who does not work out.

Tamara is more independent than Thalia, who crawled into her sister's crib at 9 months old and still insists on sleeping with her.

"She kicks me out," Thalia said.

The twins complete each other's sentences and have a knack for knowing what the other is thinking.

If Tamara is at a friend's house and Thalia gets the sense her sister is upset about something, she'll call. More often that not, she's right.

Recently, the two were shopping at Wal-Mart. Tamara was singing, and Thalia asked her to stop. Tamara stopped, but Thalia remained unconvinced.

"You're singing in your head," Thalia said. "I know you are."

"Okay, what part am I at?" Tamara said.

Thalia sang the exact line that was going through her sister's head.

"That was pretty freaky," Tamara said.

Six years ago, the twins were in a car accident. Thalia, who was in the back seat, was thrown through the back window. She sustained a concussion and injuries to her right arm and fingertips.

Tamara emerged unscathed but felt the same pain in her arm as her sister.

"I was like, "It hurts, it hurts,' " Tamara said. "Then the doctor said, "There's nothing wrong with you.' "

The twins soon will part ways.

Tamara wants to leave Florida for college and is looking at Kirkwood Community College, Cornell College and Mount St. Clare College, among others, in Iowa. Thalia prefers to stay closer to home and is considering Stetson and the University of Tampa.

The twins are ready for a change.

"I love her and everything," Tamara said of her sister. "But it's time."

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