Shake and Bake: Sisters, Defenders, Best Friends

Jan and Claire Woolley  2012 David Sinclair/McDaniel College
Jan and Claire Woolley 2012 David Sinclair/McDaniel College

McDaniel’s women’s soccer team has had a phenomenal and record-breaking start to the season. The Green Terror has achieved six wins so far, and four shutouts. The team also recorded their first 4-0 start since 2000. Of course, acknowledgement is owed to all of the hard working players, but the team’s defensive unit will truly be losing two crucial players after this season.

The now-infamous twins who have anchored the back line for four years, are now seniors midway through their final year on the Hill. The team’s starting goalie, Jan Woolley, who has already earned Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors, and her twin Claire—a captain and starting center back —bring to the team not only their athletic skills, but also their extensive knowledge of each other.

The on-the-field relationship the two share is beneficial with the cohesive pair of siblings holding each other to a higher standard—almost more so than they do their teammates. And, that makes constructive criticism flow much more freely.

“If I’m slacking, she’ll be sure to let me know,” Claire acknowledged.

Claire was voted captain last season and says that being seen as a leader during her junior year was an honor. She continued her role as captain after the season concluded, when the team was without a head coach for a period of time.

Jan says she respects her sister as a leader and that she really knows what she’s doing.

“Claire’s a great leader and always has been. She was our class president in high school, so she knows how to lead a team well.”

When the 2012 season rolled around, the women’s new coach, Sandy Lagana, stressed that everyone should be acting as a leader. Even though Claire may be the captain in the eyes of referees during the coin toss, she says that many of her other teammates—senior or not—have really stepped up.

The sisters say that people compare the two on an athletic basis. However, Jan insists that there’s no clear-cut comparison to be made. Both are strong in their own respects.

“I play goalie, so we do completely different things. So I’ll say Claire’s a great defender, but I don’t know how well she’d do at goalkeeper." 

Until college, though, Claire was never a defender and had never been that close to her sister on the field.

“I’ve always heard her behind me criticizing the defenders and I was always so glad that I was far enough away that she wasn’t yelling at me. And then when I got directly in front of her and I became the target, I had a really hard time having my little sister yell at me,” the four-minute older sister said. 

Although both Woolley sisters were looking forward to playing soccer in college, they weren’t originally planning on attending the same school.

“I was really content with us going our separate ways just because all throughout high school we’ve always been referred to as the twins, or the Woolleys, or Jan and Claire. So I was ready to be my own person,” Claire recalled.

Their older brother had come to visit McDaniel and liked the school, which prompted the twins to visit a year later. Claire immediately fell in love with the school, but it took Jan a bit longer to say that she wanted to come here.

“Our old soccer coach didn’t really look in Lancaster County much, and we came here, and I think we were like a surprise for him,” Claire said.

The twins had contacted McDaniel’s previous soccer coach, Bryan Shumaker, during their junior year of high school and caught his attention. After seeing a few of their club games, he offered them the opportunity to come try out.

The girls also said that their parents had a strong influence on the decision, reminding them that having two separate schools with games most likely on the same days would create a conflict. 

Shake and Bake—the girls’ self-appointed nicknames for their exclusive pre-game ritual—live together off campus, which may have some influence on their claim of having unspoken twin telepathy. However, they say that their relationship resembles more of two best friends rather than identical twins. As with any pair of siblings, fights occur, but in their case they are rare and don’t last for more than 10 minutes.

“I think we’re more than just friends, as dorky and awful as it sounds, we are truly best friends,” says Claire, a.k.a. Bake.

They also say that they’ve become very used to living together and it has made their similarities much more pronounced. When the two were younger, there weren’t as many physical resemblances but now things are different. 

“We didn’t look similar either, and now a lot of people are saying that we’re starting to look alike,” Jan explained. “Now we’re the same height, same weight, we share each other’s clothing, so it works out.” 

The twins share predominantly the same group of friends, but there is still some room to differentiate.

“It doesn’t really sound like we ever get apart but we do. We spend our time apart also,” Jan added.

The time spent apart can be at least partly attributed to the twins completely unrelated majors—one of the most obvious distinctions between the two. Claire is majoring in studio art while Jan is studying exercise science.

To supplement her major, Claire is also minoring in art history and education and plans to be student teaching in the spring. After graduation, Claire says teaching high school art would be her ideal career path; however, if a job opportunity doesn’t immediately present itself, she would be content doing long-term substitute teaching.

“If a job opportunity arises after graduation I’m going to jump on it, regardless of what school it is or where it is. Teaching jobs are hard to find, so the idea of grad school was there to continue in art history but I’m really enjoying being in the classroom." 

For her senior seminar, Claire will have a gallery showing with four other students participating in the senior honors art studio that has been in preparation for the last year and a half. While she used to use mostly paint, Claire now characterizes her work as being “part tech-pen op-art part abstract”.

Jan says she’s not entirely sure where her exercise science major or minor in sport coaching management will take her following graduation just yet. Like her sister, Jan is interested in teaching as well. 

In the exercise science program, seniors have to take a class called writing and exercise science. Then at the end of the year they’re required to do a project that Jan says, for her, will likely relate to soccer or athletics.

As for their goals for the season, the girls say that a few more wins and scoring more goals would be nice but, in specific, beating rivals like Johns Hopkins is extremely important to them—important enough that it may even warrant a team trip to the local tattoo parlor for an even better way to remember the score.

“I hope to just score more goals and don’t want the ball near me as much as it was,” Jan said. “And I would love to keep more shutouts, so what we’ve already been doing well. Let’s keep it up, I’m all about it.” 

Both twins say that they’ll obviously miss playing soccer, but the more obscure aspects of being a part of the team even more so—like getting on the bus for an away game or getting excited in the locker room. Even the three-a-day practices that used to be so daunting, they’ll miss. 

“I could go and play in a league but it’s not going to be the same as playing for the Terror,” Jan said. “It was just like that in high school but then you come play in college and this is really it.” 

The Woolleys mentioned that the soccer program hasn’t been the best it could be in recent years, but that if they could be the beginning of a new legacy and go out on a high note that would make their season. 

Claire pointed out, “If this is the season that turns the program around and we were able to start and be a part of that…that’s what we would really like.”

Article by Jake Ulick, Franklin High School senior and intern in McDaniel College Sports Information Office.