Cooper twins make a formidable one-two combination

Bridgette and Brittany Cooper flash their signature smiles after the King’s West commencement ceremony June 8 at Crossraods Church. - Photo by James Mange
Bridgette and Brittany Cooper flash their signature smiles after the King’s West commencement ceremony June 8 at Crossraods Church.
— image credit: Photo by James Mange

There is an “I” in twin, but the Cooper girls also know the value of being a team. Their sense of balance is one of the reasons they’re at the top of an impressive class of graduating seniors at King’s West this year. Bridgette earned honors as the valedictorian, while Brittany finished a strong second to become the salutatorian.

An A- in American Literature last spring is the only thing to keep Brittany from joining Bridgette at a perfect 4.0 grade-point-average. The fact that it doesn’t bother Brittany much hints at the biggest difference between the pair. “She’s definitely more competitive than I am,” Brittany said.

One of their mutual teachers, Greg Thacher thinks the competitive edge was born during a ten minute period 18 years ago.

“I think Bridgette feels the edge to excel and outdo Brittany, since Brittany was technically the first born,” Thacher said.

Bridgette is quick to point out that the difference may be even less than ten minutes. “Nine or ten,” Bridgette said. “It gets bigger every year. By the time we’re thirty she’ll probably be a year older than I am.”

Bridgette’s one-upsmanship showed again last spring when the pair represented the school at Girls State.

“I was going to run for Lt. Governor,” Brittany said, “then Bridgette said, ‘Well, maybe I should run for something too.’” Brittany decided not to run after all, serving her term in the House of Representatives, but Bridgette went on to be elected Governor.

Bridgette’s competitive streak doesn’t cause trouble between the pair, as Bridgette usually refrains from rubbing her governorship and valedictorian status in.

“Most of the time it’s just in public,” the older but smaller Brittany said. “She knows I’d hit her if she did it all the time. I’m scrappy. I can take her.”

Rather than fighting, the duo usually work together. “We’re a good team,” Bridgette said. “I’m more intense, and Brittany is more well rounded.”

“There are a lot of things about each of us that compliment each other,” Brittany added.

“I’m never just me,” Bridgette said, not so much as a compliant as an explanation, “I’m always one of the Cooper twins.”

“It’s a minor drawback,” Brittany added. “You always have someone to rely on.”

“They worked together unless I broke them up during group work,” Thacher said. “They were servant-leaders, often doing work behind the scenes. If they were in a group situation, they often organized the group’s activities and work. They were leaders by example.”

The way they approach their studies are the perfect example.

“They love knowledge and they love discussing difficult concepts,” said Dr. Phil Fernandes, the school’s Bible, philosophy and theology instructor. “They love doing research as well. They bring out the best in each other and hold each other accountable, but there’s no intense sibling rivalry.”

The Coopers will be taking their tag team act to Pacific Lutheran University in the fall, where they will be rooming together. “We just want to make the transition as easy as possible,” Brittany said. “We thought about (going to different schools) for awhile. We decided that God wanted us to go to school together.”

Each sister started her college search independently, and they ended up applying to, and being accepted by almost all the same institutions. Fordham got strong consideration, but extra-curricular opportunities and several intangibles swung the balance to PLU.

“I wanted a more traditional liberal arts education,” said Brittany, who is undecided on a course of study. Bridgette, who is interested in Egyptology and constitutional law, was also won over by the extras the school could provide.

Although the pair have put their heart and soul into academics, they’re accomplished in other areas as well. They’re gifted musicians and no sloughs on athletic fields either. Bridgette plays violin, saxophone, mandolin, banjo, guitar, harmonica and piano, while Brittany plays the mandolin and violin, specializing in “the fiddle.” Brittany is into running, biking and swimming, and both played fastpitch in their younger years. In keeping with their natures, Bridgette played hardball with the boys until she was forced into fastpitch only. They describe themselves as “freaks” about musical theater. Bridgette has played violin in one King’s West show, and been in the pit orchestra at three South Kitsap High productions, and Brittany starred as Juliet last summer in the Tacoma Actors Guild production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

“And you were good!” Bridgette exclaimed.

The twins multi-talented nature helped them score over $30,000 in combined scholarships and grants for their freshman year alone, and the PLU scholarships that will continue are impressive.

“They’re renaissance-type people,” Thacher said. “They know a lot about many subjects.”

“They have tremendous potential,” Fernandes said, “and I would be surprised if they do not both do graduate work.”

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