The Ruzevich twin connection: how it affects Julia and Kate on and off the court

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Lindenwood Athletics Gameday Crew

Kate and Julia Ruzevich pose on picture day in the VIP room in Hyland Arena.

Billy Woods, Reporter

Julia and Kate Ruzevich share a bond that was created at birth: they’re identical twins.

“This twin connection we have is something that no one understands,” Julia said.

Both Julia and Kate were raised in a basketball family, with their dad and older siblings playing college basketball. Even when other sports, such as volleyball, were prominent in their lives, the Ruzevich twins ultimately chose the sport that brought the most passion out of them.

At the age of six, Julia and Kate played in a league that allowed both boys and girls to play against one another, and they were the only girls on the team.

During their early basketball years, the twins would practice basketball plays to trick their opponents. Julia excitedly recalled of one play they would practice where Kate would have an open layup and purposely miss the shot so Julia could easily lay it in. During preparation, the play seemed exciting until Kate realized she would look incompetent while Julia would reap the benefits.

To display their twin connection in their early basketball years, Julia and Kate devised another play where Julia would wait for Kate to get settled in the post, give her a certain look and then Julia would air-ball a perimeter shot, but the air-balled shot would actually be a pass to Kate for an easy layup at the rim.

Being twins would often trick opponents on the court, as both Julia and Kate shared a genuine laugh in recalling the confusion and panic by opposing players in their younger years, especially given their similar numbers of 22 (worn by Julia) and 44 (worn by Kate). Their jersey numbers are linked to numbers worn by parents and siblings within their family, and not because of them being twins.

Kate and Julia Ruzevich pose on picture day in the VIP room in Hyland Arena. (Lindenwood Athletics Gameday Crew)

On the court, the two are able to use that connection to their advantage to always know what the other is doing and thinking. Since they spent so much time playing together through their lives, they each know the moves and abilities of the other.

“It’s a bond. We always have a sense of where the other is on the court,” Kate said. “We give each other ‘the eyes’ and we’ll know what to do based on our eye movement.”

“Our team recognizes the bond as well,” Julia said. “They’re always telling us how well we play with each other.”

Playing alongside one another, the twins have learned how to bring the best out of the other, often matching up against each other in practices.

“We always want to push each other to be the best,” Kate said. “We hold each other to a certain standard. If Julia isn’t having the best practice, I’ll tell her. And she’ll tell me. Julia has my back and I’ll always have hers.”

“There’s a certain competitiveness in being a twin too,” Julia said, “but our goal is never to be better than the other.”

Throughout high school, Kate dealt with injuries, while Julia achieved on-court success, such as Most Valuable Player awards and being a member of the 1,000-point club. Even with that, the twins never focused on who the better overall player was, but more so who was better in certain areas of their respective games and how to continue to push one another and build each other up.

“We understand our roles,” Kate said.

That understanding, combined with the competitive nature displayed by the twins, has led to some heated exchanges with one another in practices.

“We get carried away on the court sometimes,” Julia said.

Julia and Kate talked about how just a couple days ago in practice, they were guarding one another, and the heat of the moment led to them exchanging some words with one another, while teammates watched the twins bring the best out of one another.

At Lindenwood, Julia and Kate have embraced their different roles. Julia is a wing player who is given more opportunities to shoot from distance, while Kate is primarily a post player.

“Kate is more aggressive and I’m softer,” Julia said. “She is stronger and does the dirty work.”

Last season, their first as Lions, Julia started all 28 games and averaged over 30 minutes a game, while Kate started 20 of the 28 games and averaged 25 minutes per game. Each player has the ability to score in a multitude of ways, and their on-court versatility allows them to create opportunities for other players and vice-versa on the defensive side, where they’re able to offer versatile defensive help and make it difficult for opposing players. The minutes played shows the importance of both twins within the rotation of head coach Katie Falco’s game plan.

Something the twins have never talked about together, but more with their parents separately, are the times when it’s tough to co-exist on the court together. For Kate, the hard part is from other people who like to compare the twins on-court success with one another. Julia enjoyed earlier success than Kate, but Kate never let that bother her, instead wishing that outside spectators would understand they’re two different people.

Kate and Julia Ruzevich pose on picture day in the VIP room in Hyland Arena. (Lindenwood Athletics Gameday Crew)

“We know each other,” Kate said. “She knows the hardships I’ve gone through and I know the hardships she has gone through. We know there’s been different success and we credit we another. We’re there for one another.”

Because of COVID, the twins were offered a “COVID year”, which gives them the opportunity to return as fifth-year seniors next season. After their first NCAA appearance last season, the twins are excited to get back on the court this season.

“We don’t know how this season will go,” Julia and Kate said simultaneously. “It’s the unknown factor.”

“We’re not taking a day of practice for granted,” Julia said. “Especially after years of basketball.”

After their college basketball days, both Julia and Kate are only interested in coaching basketball if their kids are players on the team they’re coaching. Julia has explored some overseas opportunities once she graduates from Lindenwood. Kate has expressed interest in being in real estate, while Julia wants to be in medical sales or sports medicine.

Off the court, Julia and Kate live together and are often combined at the hip, only being without one another when they’re visiting their boyfriends. They have different friend groups who come together to hang-out as one big group. As kids, they would dress the same until their teenage years, where they grew into having more of their own identities.

“I love experiencing life with her,” Julia said as Kate cheerfully agreed.