CARDINGTON — Kambry and Karsyn Edwards plan to study education, and they both want to be teachers. That’s not all the Cardington seniors have in common. They are also passionate about basketball. And they are also identical twins who achieved the honor of salutatorian and valedictorian of the 2022 graduating class.
They would have a hard time remembering when basketball wasn’t part of their lives.
“We’ve played since we were little, like all year round,” Karsyn said softly. They played on travelling teams as well as representing Cardington on the court.
“Dad [Jamie, who is also an identical twin] is our high school coach, and his assistant was Kevin Fitzpatrick and both of them coached our AAU team since fourth grade,” Kambry added.
“There are pros and cons to having dad as our coach. I liked it,” said Karsyn. “Both Coach Fitzpatrick and Coach Hardwick have been our travel coaches since fourth grade. So, they knew all of the players really well.”
“Their dad just resigned his position as the head coach at Cardington where he coached with Kevin Fitzpatrick and Scott Hardwick. And Jamie just took the head girls varsity job at Olentangy. And now Kevin Fitzpatrick is the head coach [at Cardington] and Hardwick is the varsity assistant,” explained Charity Edwards.
“Hardwick and Jamie starting coaching at elementary when my oldest was younger and so since they’ve been in kindergarten, they’ve been in the gym. They would open the gym up to kids in the community. We had kids from other schools, like Shelby. There’s a lot of AAU girls that have played with them through the years. That’s kind of like how our basketball program got to be so good,” Charity Edwards said.
Coach Edwards garnered an impressive 148-22 record for the Cardington Lady Pirates over his seven-year career there.
Did Kambry and Karsyn feel pressured to play basketball because their dad was immersed in the game?
The twins replied in unison, “No.”
“I think we all really enjoyed it,” Kambry said. “We had all our friends, so it was really fun,” added Karsyn.
Those early years of learning the game and bringing friends along with them, certainly enhanced the Cardington girls’ basketball program.
“Last year we lost three games,” said Karsyn and Kambry added, “The year before we went undefeated in the season. The year before that, we lost two games, and freshmen year we lost three or four games.” But mom was quick to interject that they were non-league games.
“We never lost a KMAC [conference] game until the very last game of this season,” the girls replied, their words following one another’s in sequence, “and it went into double-overtime.”
The Lady Pirates 2022 season ended 11-1 in league play, and their overall record for the year (regular season and playoffs) was 18-4.
Finishing each other’s thoughts illustrates how their mother describes them: “They are just so similar.”
They are so similar that when it came to time to write their salutatorian and valedictorian speeches, they worked on them separately; and yet, they came out sounding so much alike. They worked on them again so they could offer different messages to their classmates.
“They have an older sister [Kynlee]. They were all given basketball scholarships; they were all supposed to play together at Lourdes University [Sylvania, Ohio] and then our oldest decided to come home. So, at the moment, they are still planning to play at Lourdes.”
Their sister Kynlee started at Findley before transferring to Lourdes but COVID detracted from the experience and she came back to Cardington and is attending The Ohio State University in Marion. And she’s not playing basketball.
Kynlee said she doesn’t share her sisters’ passion for basketball.
“I was ready to be done with college basketball,” she said. “You just have to love it to play it, and I was good, but I wasn’t obsessed with it.”
“It came easy for Kynlee,” said Kambry, “I feel like we really love and enjoy it, whereas Kynlee just was really good at it.”
Their initial recruiting offer for tuition and housing scholarships hasn’t come through as planned so there’s some current indecision. There’s a new coach at Lourdes and she is trying to help the family navigate the finances. They also know that OSU-Marion has a good education program, though they wouldn’t be able to play basketball, there are advantages to being closer to home.
“I know for them they have such a love and a passion for playing,” Charity Edwards said, “but where they were thinking they’d financially be is where they’re struggling because they don’t want to pay to play basketball.”
“There’s pros and cons to both scenarios,” Kambry said, “If I don’t go to Lourdes then obviously it’s a con because I’m not playing basketball and it’s something I’ve worked hard for. But if I stay home and go to OSU-M, I know I can work and get a job.”
Karsyn added, “Kambry and I study so much. If we do go to Lourdes, we’ll be playing basketball and doing the honors program, and we’ll have to study around basketball. Well, we’ve always studied around basketball but then it would be less stressful if we stayed home. We don’t know what we want.”
Lourdes University provides financial awards for honors and academic achievement. The girls applied for the honors program to maximize their benefits.
They achieved all As through school. Not that it came easy. They said they study a lot.
“I feel like I understand math, but before a test I study for hours and hours,” said Kambry. “We make a ton of notecards,” added Karsyn.
In addition to scholarships from Lourdes, they also received local scholarships. Kambry received the John M. and Bertha A. Stone Scholarship awarded to students in the top 15 percent of their class at Cardington, the Morrow County Professional and Business Women Scholarship, the Frank and Lucille Ebert Valedictorian Scholarship and the Seth Maceyko Snuggle Time Scholarship.
Local scholarships Karsyn received included the Cardington Faculty Association Scholarship and the Frank and Lucille Ebert Valedictorian Scholarship.
Kambry and Karsyn Edwards have been part of, not just an athletically successful team, but also an academically successful team. The top ten 2022 Cardington graduates were all female, and five of those girls were starters on the Lady Pirates basketball team.