Twins have a bond unlike any other sibling relationship.
Being born a twin means having a built-in best friend from birth, sharing a connection often unexplainable to non-twins.
Sometimes, though, it can be tough to carve out your own identity.
“Well, we’re never really looked at as a singular person,” said Maggie Shaw, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior majoring in nursing. “Whenever people are talking about us, they say, ‘Oh, the twins.’
“But we’re really just Maggie and Sam.”
Maggie and her fraternal twin, Samantha, have spent the last four years as key athletes in the UTC women’s soccer program.
Maggie, a defender who will return to play in the fall before graduating in December, is a two-time All-Southern Conference first-team selection and the 2020-2021 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year.
Samantha, who completed her athletic career with a team-high four goals in the fall 2021 season, received a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance in May. The midfielder played in 58 matches while with the Mocs.
The graduates of Dreher High School in Columbia, South Carolina, never dreamed of going separate ways for college. Asked if they considered going off on their own, they took turns responding.
“When you have a built-in best friend, why would you want to lose that?” Samantha asked.
“Yeah, especially traveling to a different state and being away from home, we knew we’d have a best friend with us,” Maggie said.
“Plus,” Samantha added, “college is very exciting, but it is kind of unpredictable when you haven’t experienced it before. Having her here has been like having a safety net.”
“And a great one to have,” Maggie continued. “It’s nice to see her. If I was upset or felt homesick, I could just go and see Sam. It’s been really nice.”
While both sisters laughed about not being able to read each other’s minds, they acknowledged their bond is different from most.
“It’s almost like a sixth sense to where we have just been around each other so much and know each other so well,” Samantha said. “We can usually tell what we’re thinking and what opinions we’re forming, and if we’re in a happy mood or sad mood.”
Maggie, the younger of the twins by three minutes, said they were influenced by watching their older sisters, Jamie and Danielle—who spent three years as soccer teammates at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina.
“Sam and I would go to all of their games when they were in college,” Maggie explained. “Seeing them have that bond on the field influenced us. They were there for each other, but they also yelled at each other—and that transferred over to us. When we’re on the field, we do not cut each other any slack. We’re going to tell each other straight-up how it is.”
“Which I feel also helps each of us as a player,” Samantha added, “because it’s so special to have someone related to you that can be bold with you as your teammate. We can just tell each other without sugarcoating it, ‘You had a bad day, dude.’ It makes it fun and holds us to a higher level.”
The Shaw sisters come from good athletic stock. Their mother, Trish Little, was a volleyball player for the University of South Carolina. Their father, David Shaw, played in 769 National Hockey League games from 1982 to 1998.
With Samantha graduating in May, the sisters now find themselves on their own. In fact, while Maggie returns to the soccer pitch for a final Mocs campaign, Samantha is moving to Australia in August for a one-year backpacking excursion.
For them, it’s the end of an era, so to speak.
“It’s bittersweet, but it’s also exciting because I feel like we’ve been prepping for this,” Samantha said. “We’ve kind of gotten used to not being with each other every second of the day.”
Said Maggie, “I think the biggest thing for me will be trying to keep myself occupied so I won’t get to think about it. If I do, I’m going to be sad.
“I know I can just FaceTime Sam with stuff if she’s not around and rant to her about everything. That’s my best friend right there.”
This is an updated version of a story that first appeared in the spring 2022 issue of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Magazine.