To say that basketball at Boulder High is a family affair is no exaggeration for senior twins Joe and Jacque Szarmach.
After all, members of their family have been Panthers hoopsters for four generations, going back to their great uncle Ben Chaney Sr. Three other uncles, their mother Mary and several cousins have all donned the purple and gold jerseys with pride.
For the past four seasons, the twins have relished being a part of that lineage. But in what could be their final year together under one roof, they are simply enjoying all the little things about being high school seniors.
They have three classes together and share car rides to and from BHS. And, they have each other’s backs even when things haven’t gone exactly as planned.
“We’ve really enjoyed going through high school together … getting to experience little things that the seniors get, even things like parking in the senior lot every day, having crazy experiences,” Jacque Szarmach said. “(Tuesday morning), we had to park in such a tiny spot that we had to climb out of the sunroof. Just little things like that make the memories.
“There have been times we’ve both forgotten uniforms or something like that, and we both have each other’s backs. We always make sure we are organized and ready to go for things.”
Basketball has always been a common interest for Joe and Jacque, and in their youth they were able to play together on the same teams. Growing up, games of ‘21′ with cousin Liam — who also currently plays for the Panthers — were almost an every day occurrence.
Almost always, a relative has been an influence to their game, too.
“We’ve been with a ball since we were babies, basically,” said Jacque, one of Boulder’s captains this year. “We would be out in the driveway all the time. We played with all our aunts and uncles, and our cousins.”
“At the YMCA, I remember our mom coached us,” Joe said, adding Fairview students Matt Twist and Zach Swenson were one-time teammates. “It was always fun with and against those guys, and playing with my sister.
“When we were at Sacred Heart, our uncles were always our coaches and they pushed us a little bit more than everyone else because we were related. But I think we also got the best coaching because of that.”
Over the past few years, the boys and girls teams at BHS have had different levels of success. The boys squad has had the stability of a coach in Eric Eisenhard who is now in his third season, while girls team has had a lot of turnaround in that area.
But through it all, Joe and Jacque have been key contributors for BHS. Joe is currently averaging 7.1 points and three rebounds a game, and Jacque holds an 8.8 scoring average while adding 3.6 rebounds.
“They’re both great kids and represent Boulder High basketball in the ways that we want to be represented. They’re both competitive and really work to take it seriously,” said Eisenhard, whose team has struggled in Front Range League play but is 6-4 overall. “I don’t know that we have a harder worker than Joe. He is constantly willing to sacrifice anything for us, whether it is his body or his time. Typically, he takes on the other team’s best defensive player, and he never complains.
“I haven’t really coached Jacque directly … but I know she means a whole lot to that program. Coming from the same family tree, I’m sure she has some of that same grit that Joe does.”
With Boulder preparing for a city doubleheader against Fairview on Saturday at the Coors Events Center, Joe is readying himself to hear the somewhat friendly ribbing from the Knights’ student section — who have customarily chanted the name “Jacque” whenever he has the ball in their rivalry games.
For now, Jacque has the bragging rights of having a better scoring average. But in a true example of sibling rivalry, Joe is not willing to concede just yet.
“We don’t have any kid of wager on that, but I’m sure I’ll catch up soon,” Joe said. “My season’s just getting started.”
“We’ll see,” Jacque said.
Ironically, basketball may also end up as the reason the Szarmach twins spend their college years in different places. Jacque is looking at a junior college in Santa Barbara, Calif., as a place to continue playing, and she is also considering some schools in the Southeast U.S. Joe said he is also looking at the Santa Barbara school but is open to other options.
One gets the sense, though, that they’ll remain close no matter how many miles separate the two.
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