NP's Weinberg twins have been competitive from birth
NEW CARLISLE -- The competition between identical twins Jake and Coley Weinberg began at birth for the New Prairie seniors, quite literally.
"He kicked me back in the womb," Coley said. "I guess from then, we were racing to be first."
Jake is 20 minutes older and almost apologetic in saying, "They said I lodged him back in there."
The head start on life, the doctor told the family, got Jake an initial three months' jump in physical development -- "He'd grow and gain weight, then I'd catch him a little later," Coley said.
Going on 18 years, virtually nothing has changed since. Both are top-notch students, Jake with a 4.1 grade point average and Coley close by at 4.0.
"They used to put us in the same class and we'd compete there, too, who got better the quiz scores," Coley said.
Jake is 6-foot-2, two inches taller than Coley, who is quick to note he has the edge in weight (205 to 200).
"A lot of people say he's got me beat because his head's a little longer," Coley said. "That's where he got his height from."
So it goes with the Weinberg boys and the eternal game of one-upmanship. Jake is an eyelash faster, though neither is blessed with superior speed.
"If we line up to run a race, you wouldn't know who would win until the last couple steps," Coley said.
Jake also is a nudge up on Coley in strength, though Coley was slowed by hip surgery after his sophomore season.
"Even in the weight room, we're next to each other, I tell him put an extra five (pounds) on each side," Jake said. "Leg lifts, I got him beat because he always had the hip. We've got a great weights program here. We bought into what they're telling us and it's paid off big time."
Coley had hip issues dating back to his freshman year but said his dad wasn't sold on him needing medical attention until Jake started beating him down the field to make the tackle on kickoffs.
"(Lifting) ramps up the competition between us, too. We're always pushing, trying to outdo the other one," Coley said. "I started beating him out a whole bunch, then I had to get hip surgery. We're about the same now. It goes back and forth. He always had me in squat (lift)."
When the boys were first born, Jake always wore blue anklets and Coley red, so their parents could tell them apart. Before they were 2, the differences were discernible enough for their folks that they started dressing them the same.
"Before New Prairie, we went to Holy Family, so we were wearing (school) uniforms," Coley said. "Once we started developing personalities, it was a breeze for them."
The Weinbergs grew up in South Bend, but the twins began playing flag football in New Carlisle/Rolling Prairie in first or second grade and the Rocket Football League shortly thereafter, forging friendships that have lasted over a decade.
"We've gone to school with same people," Jake said.
At 9, they had their first position battle, when both were vying to play quarterback. Jake got the nod, with Coley moving to running back and tight end, and saw time as a signal-caller through his sophomore year, when he split time between there and defensive end.
"Not a common combo," Jake said.
The boys played in South Bend for a year in fifth grade, but missed their friends, so they came back the following year, starting school at New Prairie as sixth graders. They played a variety of youth sports, notably baseball, and had Cougars defensive line coach Luther for youth wrestling. Coley even tried lacrosse once.
"I would say, freshman year, it was hard to tell them apart, but as you get to know their personalities, even their faces are very different to me now," assistant coach Bobby Whitenack said. "I can completely tell them apart now."
That's how it is for most people who know the twins well enough that they can't pull a fast one on them.
"We've tried, but they catch on so quick," Coley said. "He used to be a little shy and I'm always talking. I'm a little louder, I laugh a lot more. Hyper's a good way to put it. Jake's more low-key."
"I would say I'm a pretty funny guy but I can't compete because he's always so loud," Jake said.
Head coach Casey McKim had it tough enough learning everybody else's names and faces, let alone two who looked the same.
"It's kind of hard, especially with the mask," McKim said. "I'm still getting better at it. After they talk for a while, you can tell, based on what they say. They're a little different in their personality. Both are pretty funny, but one's a little more dead pan than the other. We had twins at Valpo. It became easy. You're around them for a while, you can usually tell eventually."
Oddly enough, Jake notes, when someone does have to guess who's who, they seem to default to Coley.
"They always guess Coley first, which doesn't make sense because Jake's so much more common of a name," he said. "It just throws me off. When they say Jake or Coley, I always look. At my work once, Coley came in and got food, they were looking at him, they said, I thought Jake was working. They looked at me, they went back, they kept doing double takes. I forgot to mention I had a twin brother."
After playing primarily on JV as sophomores, both made the jump to varsity in 2019. They played the same position, defensive end, though Jake missed five games with a severe concussion. Coley also saw spot time at tight end.
New Prairie senior twins Jake, left, and Coley Weinberg start at defensive end and linebacker, respectively, for a stingy Cougars defense that has allowed six points.
Jake remains on the line this season with Coley moving to linebacker.
"They're kind of jack of all trades, all around, the defense, offense," Whitenack said. "We have a pretty strong D line, a lot of guys returning, and we need to get them both on the field somewhere. They're really good kids. They're both leaders on the field, good classroom leaders. They're returning special teams guys, so they can help coach the guy next to them."
With both playing on the same side and not the same position, it clears up some of the confusion that used to arise with the coaches.
"They'd come tell me to do something, they'd run the other way, he wouldn't do it right, and I'd get yelled at, didn't I just tell you this?," Coley said. "I would say no. If I'm lined up behind him, it works out a lot, I an say, hey, next time, do this."
Occasionally, they'll even make decoy calls, knowing they don't mean anything, to throw off the offense.
"Having a twin out there definitely helps," Jake said. "You automatically already have that connection. We think the same. We watch film together at the house. We critique each other. We always say a positive thing, but we also say, you could have done this better, too. We always keep each other humble."
The Weinbergs swam as freshmen and sophomores, though Whitenack is trying to get them to wrestle this winter. Coley played baseball as a freshman and has golfed in the spring each year since. Jake may pole vault in the spring, if the 20, 25 pounds he's added doesn't make him too heavy.
"They're program kids, they're the glue," McKim said. "They work hard, they do all the right things, they're positive role models, they help other kids get better. That what it's all about."
Senior seasons are special for all athletes, but given the boys' unique connection, the significance is even greater.
"It definitely makes you want to go out on top," Jake said. "Our goal is nothing short of winning a state championship. It would be a great way to top off all our years of being teammates."
College may take the boys in different directions, though that is to be determined. Jake is leaning toward IU and going into marketing or physical therapy, with the possibility of walking on in football there.
"Academics is really important," he said. "Football's been a great four years, academics sets you up for the rest of your life. If you get hurt, you still want to say you chose a great academic school. If there's a small school and they have great academics, I'd love to play football. I'm not ready to give it up."
With several family members having been in the military, Coley has held a strong interest for many years. His dream school would be West Point, where he'd consider walking on, but short of that, he will go to a school with a strong ROTC program. He aspires to be a military policeman, like one of his uncles.
"Since middle school, I've known Army is the place I wanted to go," he said. "It's really what I'm looking forward to doing. Every Saturday, Army's playing, somebody scores, I get about five messages saying, what happened? (Jake) likes Navy. He's teasing me a little."
While Jake admits his interest in the Navy is rooted in brotherly antagonism, he did have an uncle who played baseball at the Naval Academy.
"On Christmas, I got Navy stuff and he got Army stuff," he said.
There's a chance it could play out where both boys end up going to IU. Just don't expect them to live together.
"We'd have to have a little bit of separation," Jake said. "There would be a lot of fights and broken objects. We know each other so well, we know exactly how to push each other's buttons, no matter what it is. I'm always right in his ear, doing the exact same thing. Every single day, comments are exchanged."
"I don't know if I'd be able to room with him," he said. "I have a short fuse when it comes to that. We roomed together at the house for a while. That was definitely enough for me. I'm definitely not attached to the point where we need to go to the same school. I'm fine going our separate ways. I'd bet if we ended up walking on at the same place, we'd be like, who's got the better stats?"
Both laugh when they say the arguments would be what they missed the most if they weren't on the same campus.
"I'm going to have too much extra time on my hands," Coley said.