Story by Mike Lopresti
Soccer-playing triplets? Now there's something you don't see every day in the class of 2021. But around a table sit the Douyere kids, who arrived at Earlham this year pretty much as they came into the world.
"I came out first," Jennifer is saying about that Dec. 4 day in 1998. "Then a minute later Jeremy, then Jeffrey a minute later."
They talk about their decision to attend Earlham, and you notice they made that choice in nearly the same order. Jennifer, Jeffrey, Jeremy. But one never far from the other.
"It's interesting how we also all chose the same college," Jeremy is saying. "You'd think we'd want to branch out. We ended up following each other."
As father Mark said over the phone from their home in the Cincinnati area, "It did surprise my wife and me that they chose the same school. I think two of them would have been alright, but Jeremy probably hesitated to the very last minute. When I say last-minute, I mean until national signing day. Until that point, he had decided to go somewhere else. That last night, I think is when he decided he would go to Earlham as well."
They each liked the campus, the atmosphere, the academics, the soccer. All three started this season, or at least they did until Jeffrey blew out his knee in the second match.
So let's listen in on a little Douyere sibling round-table chatter.
Jeremy: "Me and Jeffrey competed in everything . . ."
Jennifer: "I'd be the one who would always butt in and get myself involved . . ."
Jeremy: "It'd be over the smallest stuff, too. It'd be over something dumb like . . ."
Jennifer: "Who eats the fastest, who eats the most . . ."
Jeffrey: "I'd have to say I'm more funny. I'm the one pushing jokes too far and making fun of either of these two . . . "
Jennifer: "He's the instigator . . ."
Jeremy: "Every battle, I lost. Our dad likes Jeffrey and then our mom likes Jennifer and I'm in the middle kind of . . ."
Jeffrey: "Whenever there'd be an argument between two of us. One person would try and mediate but they'd end up picking one side, so it'd be two vs. one . . ."
Jennifer: "When we were younger, I always wanted to do ballet and they wanted to do something sporty and athletic. So our parents would say, `You guys are all picking the same thing.' So I always had to do what they wanted to do, because it was two against one. We did karate and kick boxing and tennis . . ."
Jeffrey: "Until I broke her nose. We were actually going to go to tennis practice and she was coming up the stairs in our house and I was rounding the corner and we collided . . ."
Jennifer: "He's got a hard head . . . "
So, about growing up as triplets?
Jeremy: "People got us mixed up all the time. We'll know people for 10 years and they still do. In hallways at high school, people would think I'm Jeffrey and call my name and it'd be awkward because I'm not Jeffrey and I'd just keep walking . . ."
Jeffrey: "It actually just happened today . . ."
Jeremy: "People are surprised because she's so much smaller. Sometimes people mistake us for twins actually because the think she's younger . . ."
Jennifer: "Birthdays were fun. When we were younger, we each had our own cake . . ."
Jennifer: "Chocolate . . ."
Jeffrey : "Chocolate . . ."
Jeremy: "I think mine was vanilla . . ."
Grades were competitive, too. Couldn't have been easy for the one who got the lowest score of the three on a test.
Jeremy: "Pretty rough . . . "
Jennifer: "But only like, for a day or two . . ."
Jeffrey: "You would know which one had the better grade. If I got a 96, I'd be like, `Hey, I got a 96, what did you get?' She wouldn't answer, so . . ."
Jennifer had her own bedroom, the boys were roommates. Still are.
Jeremy: "We shared at Earlham too, since we were kind of used to it . . .
Jeffrey: "That might change after this year . . ."
Their father had been wary of the roommate decision. "You get into a fight – they've gotten in fights before –when you're away, you're in a dorm room, and there's nobody there to break it up. I remembered one time one of them took the other in a chokehold. I worried about things like that."
So far, no chokeholds at college.
The kids all said they liked Earlham for its diversity. You want diversity, ask them their ice cream preference. Jennifer goes for chocolate chip cookie dough, Jeremy for peach. Jeffrey is a black cherry kind of guy.
But they are close, and always will be. Never mind the times the world is too busy looking at them as a trio to notice them as individuals.
Jennifer: "Sometimes it's not easy. They'll go, `Oh, you're Jeffrey's sister.' I'll say, `I want to be known as Jennifer . . ."
Jeremy: "Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like to be the only child, but then I feel like it's nice having siblings, people my age . . .
Jennifer: "I think it's nice they're going through the same things I'm going through, transitioning from high school to college. That way I can ask them for help, or we can talk how we're doing . . . "
Such as this past August, when Jeffrey's freshman soccer season came crashing down, having hardly begun.
Jeffrey: "My body turned but my leg just twisted at the knee. When I was going down I heard it crack . . . "
ACL damage, torn meniscus, a mess. The first serious sports injury of his life. It meant surgery, a season lost, the dream of playing put on hold, and one-third of the Douyere triplets traveling campus on crutches.
It also meant he needed assistance hobbling to the shower, carrying his food on trays, getting ice for his injury. Someone did all that, and rearranged his dorm room so he could get around easier.
Jeremy: "I was kind of hands-on helping him. I had to walk him to the bathroom and open the door . . . "
And once Jeffrey recovers?
Jeremy: "He's on his own . . ."
College is not an inexpensive endeavor. Imagine sending three kids to Earlham at once. Perhaps we should pause here for a moment of silence, for the bank account of Mark and Cheryl Douyere. He's a business analyst for a bank, she's in retail.
"You look at it all from a financial perspective, and yes, I was worried. Very worried, actually, at first," Mark said. "But then I started to do the math. We came from India and the No. 1 thing growing up was education, making sure grades were good. Once we started to focus on scholarships and academic awards, it started to kind make a little bit more financially appealing, let me put it that way."
Jeffrey: "They pushed us to do well on the ACT. I had to take it four times."
It won't always be this way, sharing the same home, then the same campus and soccer field. Sooner or later, life will yank the Douyere kids in different directions.
Jeremy talks of getting involved in some sort of global outreach effort one day, Jeffrey taking his bio chemistry major into research, Jennifer looking perhaps at medical school.
Jeremy: "It'll feel weird, to be honest, because we've always . . ."
Jeffrey: "Had a connection . . ."
Jeremy: "We've always been close together . . . "
Jeffrey: "If one of us gets hit or something, people ask, `Can you feel it?' I don't see us parting ways or becoming too distant from each other . . ."
Jennifer: "We've started to rely on each other more as we've gotten older."
And no matter what grief her brothers give her, she will always be the oldest of Earlham's soccer triplets. By one and two minutes.
October 31, 2017 Three's Company: The Douyere Triplets
September 14, 2017 Racing in the Shadows
August 25, 2017 Thigpen Joins Men's and Women's Tennis Programs
August 23, 2017 Class of 2021 Bursting with Pride, Survey Says
August 23, 2017 Three Individuals and One Team to Be Inducted Into Hall of Fame
August 23, 2017 Earlham and Wilmington Announce Quaker Bowl Re-creation
August 9, 2017 Jake Tinsley Joins Men's and Women's Golf Programs
July 25, 2017 Shauna Watson Named Head Women's Basketball Coach
July 24, 2017 Erica Lemm Named Associate Director of Athletics