By Dave Dyer
---- — Sometimes, like other twins, Salem seniors Danielle and Erika Smith like to play pranks.
“Twice last year, we played pranks on our teachers,” said Danielle. “Once, I went into her class and she went into mine and, another time, in AP biology, we switched seats. It was kind of fun.”
It wasn’t hard to confuse the teachers.
“If you didn’t know them well, you’d have a hard time telling them apart,” said Salem field hockey coach John Gatsas. “I can tell the difference because I’ve had them for four years in field hockey and I coached them (as freshmen and sophomores) in basketball.”
On the surface, it’s not easy to distinguish one from the other. In addition to their appearance, Danielle is ranked fourth in her class academically and Erika is sixth and they’re very similar as athletes.
Both Danielle and Erika are captains for the Blue Devils and they were both among the top four scorers on last year’s 10-5-2 squad. Danielle was recognized as Division 1 second team all-state.
“For her position at that time, Danielle was recognized, but they’re equally valuable to us,” said Gatas. “They’re both very aggressive. Erika is more of a scorer, but Danielle could be.”
They do play different positions. Danielle, who has been primarily a midfielder, has been switched to defense while Erika has gone from forward to midfield, where she spent some time last year.
The switch has worked well for Salem, which is currently 6-2, having only lost to returning state finalists Pinkerton and Winnacunnet despite controlling much of the play.
“Last year, we played a lot of midfield together, but we’re closer together this year because we’re both on the right side,” said Danielle, who has missed a week of action with a concussion.
Said Erika: “It helps because there’s definitely a connection between us. I know when she has the ball, she’ll know where I am and get it to me.”
But the Smith twins, who are also excellent students, don’t just have a connection to each other, according to Gatsas.
“They both have good leadership qualities and a great work ethic, and that rubs off,” said Gatsas.
There are, of course some differences between the twins, and they can be noticeable.
“She (Danielle) is louder and more feisty and I’m more laid back and quieter,” said Erika. “On the field, we have different playing styles. She’s more defensive oriented, I have more of an offensive mindset.”
Either way, it’s a winning combination which is instrumental to the success of Salem. And it could continue next year in college. They’re looking at Colby, Smith and Merrimack College and they definitely want to keep playing.
“It’d be awesome to go to college with my sister,” said Erika. “If we like different colleges, we could split up, but I hope we don’t.”