Matt Sanders Article (DE)

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Matt Sanders Article (DE)

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Tue Mar 22, 2005 10:40 am ... erstw.html

Meet the Tigers' twin turbos

When it comes to excelling at sports, or music, or just about anything else, few can match A.I. du Pont's Matt and Adam Sanders

By DOUG LESMERISES / The News Journal


An idea was floated to pose Matt and Adam Sanders on a track with a vaulting pole and hurdle and a cello and viola, donning mortarboards and dressed in the outfits that represent their ranks as Eagle Scouts.

The twins vetoed that idea.

Tackling all the activities in their lives is not a problem, but capturing them in one photo was too much, a little over the top.

The photo might have worked, though. Otherwise, the Sanders brothers, seniors at A.I. du Pont, aren't easy to explain.

Matt is the reigning state pole vault champion for both indoor and outdoor track. Adam, a hurdler, high jumper and member of the 1,600 relay, was the Tigers' team MVP last spring and the MVP in the recently completed indoor season.

Both are also Eagle Scouts, a status reached by just 4 percent of scouts; members of the state orchestra, a select group of 80 high school musicians from around the state; and academic standouts in the National Honor Society with particular interests in science. They have been offered full academic scholarships to the University of Delaware and are waiting on final notice from several Ivy League schools.

Maybe you know the type. The Sanders aren't one of a kind, or two of a kind. But whenever you run across these kinds of student-athletes, you have to shake your head. They don't just do it all; they win it all. They don't just participate, they excel. Their success requires intense focus and commitment, yet they're spread so thin, you wonder when they sleep.

The A.I. track team will be better for it. Coach Steve Lantz doesn't have great depth, but the Tigers will be tough in spots. Matt, with a bigger pole this season, would like to take a run at the state outdoor record of 14 feet, 6 1/2 inches. Adam has a shot at some school records in the hurdles. Track and field is just a part of their spring - the favorite portion of their day until they move on to their next favorite.

Neither Sanders has a cell phone or a car. Their rooms don't have a TV or a phone. They think there's a lot of garbage on television. They prefer to do.

Maybe you have a friend or family member who sounds like Adam or Matt.

Ask them this today. Why? Why all that, and why so well?

"I guess maybe achievement is addictive," Adam said. "It's sort of like, if you're going to do it, you may as well put some effort into it."

"It's like their drug," said Michael Buoni, who has seen their success in other settings.

Buoni taught biology to both of the Sanders at A.I. before moving to Cape Henlopen High this year. He called Matt the greatest critical thinker he's met in his eight years as a teacher.

"Achievement is like their normal, everyday thing," Buoni said. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me?' I see a lot of kids that do all these things, but I hardly see any that excel at all of them.

"But they don't think they're as good as they are. I'm like, 'Dude, it's OK to give yourself a little credit.' "

The credit, at least in part, goes to the other.

"Whatever we do, it's like, 'I bet I can beat you,' " Adam said. "Then it's a circle of us working off each other to get better at different things. There's a competition with everything, like walking down the hallway."

Hallway-walking battles between twins? Really?


That is far too planned for the Sanders. They are two parts of a string trio, and two of four students in an independent-study computer graphics class for which they had to create a syllabus and a grant proposal to buy computers. All a coincidence.

"We didn't try to dictate which one of us would do this or that," Matt said. "It just happened that way."

Said Adam: "It was ridiculously arbitrary."

"But having a brother that's doing everything I'm doing," Matt said, "I guess it dulls you to the idea that you're doing something special."

Their father, Jack, is also a twin, though he said he often didn't get along with his brother. Once, he fed him a worm sandwich.

Not this generation.

"That's a negative on the worm sandwich," Adam said. "We don't get good worms in our yard."

They aren't planning to attend college together, although of the six schools they applied to, five were in common. If they wind up together, that's a bonus. Inseparable by accident, they are, according to their father, a type of twin that some doctors still debate the existence of: polar twinning is when one egg splits before fertilization, leaving siblings with some, but not all, identical traits. They are also about one-eighth Native American, their names on the tribal rolls of Cherokee Nation.

Asked for a way they are different, Matt astutely noted that Adam is right-handed, while he is left-handed. Except that Matt is actually ambidextrous and, during one baseball game as a kid, pitched half the game with each arm.

Adam said he's 150,000 times more neat than Matt. Several years ago, he planned out every minute of his day on a chart and labeled the clothing on his hangers with days of the week, though he never quite followed through on the plan.

They both like pizza. And perfection.

"As high as they've gone with their music, you have to be almost a perfectionist," said Bonnie Ayers, who directs their string trio and the Red Clay Honors Chamber Orchestra, which takes the place of their track practice on Thursdays. "You have to be determined about what you're learning."

Matt was first chair cello at state orchestra. Adam was fourth chair at viola. The intensive three-day gathering, 19 hours of music practice ending in a concert, was a version of perfection to Adam.

"You had nothing to do but music," he said. "It was so different from the norm. It was just wake up, grab your instrument and go, and come home and the music is still stuck in your head."

Matt's perfect day? A Saturday a couple years ago, a cloudless sky, an informal pole vaulting practice and pizza. Flying through the air, then lounging on the pit mats brought to a near sizzle by the sun.

"It was so great," he said. "That's one memory I'll never forget."

Adam has a favorite track moment as well. High jumping, sleeping while waiting for his next turn and jumping again.

"Sleeping is probably what I'm best at overall," said Adam.


"Talk to them for five minutes, and you'd never guess what they've done," Buoni said.

"They're absolutely normal kids, but they can morph into any arena you put them in and excel at that. They're the epitome to me of the student-athlete."

Contact Doug Lesmerises at

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Unread postby chspv » Wed Mar 23, 2005 11:15 am

lol thats great that pv is getting some attention in Delaware, gl to matt and hopefully i'll jump great as well

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Unread postby runjumpfly » Sun Apr 10, 2005 4:02 pm

Gotta love them twins.

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