Until they switched their hair styles, twins Mike and Steve Ammann were almost impossible to tell apart without their jersey numbers.
The senior midfielders look alike, play alike and even excel alike in the classroom. For the University at Albany lacrosse team, which is riding a four-game winning streak heading into tonight’s game against visiting Yale, two Ammanns are definitely better than one.
“We’ve had our fair share of pranks over the years,” said Steve Ammann, who is third on the team in scoring, with nine goals and eight assists. “There’s always been a lot of confusion with people trying to tell us apart, but the guys on the team know us too well.
“During spring break, we had an intrasquad scrimmage called the Spring Break Bowl. We switched jerseys, because we thought we could fool a few people. But when you’re around the guys so often, they know how we run and how we talk. Our team is a lot like a big brotherhood, anyway, so it’s hard to fool anyone on our team.”
UAlbany head coach Scott Marr isn’t fooled. He knows the twins well, and he’s extremely happy to have the talented tandem on the Great Danes’ roster.
“They are a pair of extremely athletic kids who are such good citizens,” he said. “They certainly lead the way with showing the younger kids on the team how everything works. They are helpful when it comes to sharing their knowledge with their teammates. They tutor some of the guys, and they live and breathe for the program. They do what they can, no matter what it is. It’s nice to have a pair of kids like that on this team.”
The Ammanns put up prolific scoring numbers and were two-time team captains at Putnam Valley High School. Mike Ammann scored 70 goals and added 31 assists as a senior, and Steve connected for 68 goals and 26 assists to lead their team to the Class C state semifinals.
The twins, who were at the top of their class academically, wanted to continue their education at a New England Small College Athletic Conference school, but their plans fell through.
“It’s funny how we got them,” said Marr. “I saw them play in high school and at the Empire State Games, so I knew who they were. When the NESCAC schools didn’t take them, their coach, who played at Johns Hopkins with me, gave me a heads-up, and we got together. When we had a chance to grab a pair of 6-foot-2 athletic kids, we jumped at it.”
“When we’re on the field together, there is a synergy between us,” said Steve Ammann. “It’s easy to set each other up for dodges, and we also know where each other will be for help on defense. We’re both similar in the way we play, because we both can play both ways on offense and defense. Actually, playing around and with each other so
much has helped develop each of our games.”
But the Ammanns aren’t clones. There are a few differences.
“My game is a little more speed and finesse, while Mike’s more of a power player. He lowers his shoulder and releases a harder shot,” said Steve Ammann, who spoke for the duo.
Academically, the twins, who are co-captains for the Great Danes, are just .01 apart. Steve Ammann has a 3.86 grade-point average in business administration, while Mike Ammann, who has three goals and five assists, owns a 3.87 GPA in accounting.
“I’m proud of both of them,” said Marr. “They are [America East Conference] academic all-stars, and they have received both the President’s Leadership Award and the Chancellor’s Award. They’ve been contributors ever since they came here.”