Although freshmen pole vaulters Renee and Sara Greene may be the youngest members of the women’s pole vault team, the story of how they got into the sport may seem familiar to some of the upperclassmen on the team.
The Greene sisters started pole vault late, in their junior year at Mater Dei High School. The twist to their pole vault origins is that it all began with people pointing out the twins’ resemblance to former UCLA pole vaulter, Michelle Urabe, who also attended Mater Dei and only started pole vault in her senior year of high school.
“Everyone said she looked like our triplet, so I was like ‘If she can do this, so can we!’” Sara Greene said.
“So going into junior year I asked the pole vault coach if I could join, and then Renee was like ‘Yeah, can I join too?’”
Renee and Sara Greene’s mother, Sintu Greene, was not initially sold on her daughters’ decisions to pick up pole vaulting. She recalls her daughters’ dabblings in other track events and Sara Greene’s interest in rowing as reasons to believe it would be nothing more than a “sport of the month” for them.
But over time, she began to see how the sport really fit them, and has even gone to great lengths to oversee the development of their talents.
“I pay for all of their camps. I take videos of them and pictures. I’ve driven to meets throughout the past couple of years all over California,” Sintu Greene said.
Though the identical twins might draw confused looks from passersby on Bruin Walk, their looks aren’t the only thing they share in common.
“We’re like exactly the same,” Sara Greene said when asked how similar their personalities are.
“I know her better than she knows herself,” said Renee Greene, further explaining their dynamic.
Despite their similarities, Renee and Sara Greene initially planned on attending different colleges, but when the opportunity to become Bruins came knocking they felt it was one they could not pass up. The sisters cited the academic prestige of the school and the reputation of the pole vault program as major factors that helped them make their decision.
The twins settled on the compromise of not being roommates in order to expand their horizons. But even that couldn’t keep the sisters apart, as they now spend most of their time at UCLA together and have decided to room together in their sophomore year.
“We’re always together anyway; she keeps her stuff in my room,” said Renee Greene about Sara Greene, who even admitted to keeping a spare toothbrush in her sister’s room.
A glimpse into their academic life shows how truly similar the sisters are; they are both psychobiology students, and both hope to pursue careers as doctors. Their matching academic goals and practice schedules mean they mostly take the same classes.
Renee and Sara Greene also see their likeness extending into their pole-vaulting experiences. When it comes to the technical side of the sport, the sisters view seeking advice from each other almost like asking a version of themselves who happens to be more knowledgeable about that particular skill.
“We’ll help each other and make videos of each other and point out, like when we’re doing bar work, ‘Your rock back doesn’t look very good; you need to work on this,’ and then you can give your own input because you have a better understanding of it,” Sara Greene said.
Despite their similarities, the sisters did not share parallel progressions in their first year of collegiate pole vaulting.
After sustaining a stress fracture in her foot and discovering a cyst in her knee, Sara Greene decided to redshirt this season and has spent most of the season supporting her sister at meets. However, the sisters know that they can look at each other’s progress as signs of encouragement.
“We support each other, and knowing how high she goes, like if she jumps 12 feet, I know that I can jump 12. She knows I’ve gotten 12 (feet) 8 (inches), so that she can do it. And so we can keep pace with each other,” Renee Greene said.
The sisters’ tendency to rely on each other hasn’t escaped their mother’s notice; she mentioned that trait as a source of comfort while her daughters are off in college.
“I feel more assured. They are each other’s biggest fans,” she said.
As the academic year comes to a close, the twins have no doubt in their minds that they made the right decision when they committed to becoming Bruins together.
“I’m definitely glad we went to the same school, because we’re always together and so it would have been hard to be separated. It’s nice to have her with me,” Renee Greene said.