These days, it is Navy women's lacrosse opponents that feel the combined wrath of the Collins twins, who have blossomed into scoring machines at the collegiate level. The graduates of River Hill in Howard County are identical in looks, but somewhat different in terms of playing style and personality.
"We were very fortunate that Jenna and Julia are local products and outstanding lacrosse players who gave Navy an opportunity to recruit them," head coach Cindy Timchal said. "It was a great day when they both committed to come here. We've been grateful and thankful every day since that they're part of our program."
That dual commitment came when the Collins twins were playing in the Rivalry Challenge, a major club tournament hosted by the Naval Academy. Jenna announced her commitment during the game and five minutes later Julia did the same.
"I was in the game and Jenna came out. I heard everyone cheering and didn't know what was going on. I ran off to the sideline and people were telling me that my sister had just committed," Julia recalled. "I was like 'Oh, really? Did she? I was kind of annoyed that she just couldn't wait for me so we could do it together."
Some twins feels the need to attend separate schools in order to forge their own path and identity. Chuck and Donna Collins urged their daughters to make separate collegiate decisions without taking into account what the other was thinking. The self-described homebodies considered James Madison and Towson before settling on the Naval Academy.
"Our parents were always telling us that we did not have to go to the same place and to be your own person," Jenna said. "But in the back of my mind I knew that we would end up together. We explored options of not going to the same place, but that really was not what we wanted. We get along so great. Julia is my built-in best friend."
Timchal got two outstanding players for the price of one when the Collins twins chose Navy as both became valuable contributors from day one. Jenna has started all 57 games of her career in the midfield and rung up 188 points with most coming on goals (127). Julia has made 57 starts on attack and amassed 131 points on 87 goals and 44 assists.
"What they both bring is a tremendous level of intensity to practices, a commitment to going all out during games and, most importantly, a great love for lacrosse," Timchal said.
Julia Collins wears No. 22 and usually plays behind the cage, serving as offensive quarterback for Navy. Jenna Collins wears No. 44 and tends to operate from up top, dodging down the right alley with authority.
"They both bring a lot of ability to the field. Julia does a great job of running the offense while Jenna is a strong presence in all areas of the field," Timchal said. "They are very similar players and tend to mirror each other. They have both found their niche with what works best within our system."
Jenna Collins has captured 181 draw controls and gobbled up 92 ground balls over the course of three seasons while also playing tough defense for the Midshpmen. Julia Collins has been credited with 176 draw controls and 60 ground balls while doing her defending as a rider on clears.
"What's good about the twins is that they are very versatile. They can both attack from any angle and are very good in all facets of the game," Timchal said. "I'm sure Julia could drop back and play defense if necessary while Jenna could be the feeder on offense if asked to do so. It is totally cool that the Collins twins really bring it for Navy women's lacrosse."
Jenna Collins was born first and still uses that status to tease her younger sister. "Best six minutes of my life," Jenna jokes about the amount of time she beat her sister out of the womb.
As things evolved, many people think Julia acts like the older sister. "I'm definitely more mature, for sure. You can ask my parents or any of our teammates," Julia said.
Navy defender Blake Smith has known the Collins twins since fifth grade when she played in the same recreation basketball league with them. Smith, a Sykesville resident who attended Notre Dame Prep, has become best friends with the twins as classmates at the academy.
"They really are very different personality-wise. I would say Julia is very care-free while Jenna is more of a worry-wart," Smith said. "I think Jenna and Julia are similar in that they are both amazing people that get along with everyone."
The twins don't disagree with Smith's assessment.
"We definitely have different personalities. Julia is like let the chips fall the way they may while I'm more wanting to control things," Jenna said. "If I could use three words to describe her it would be calm, cool and collected."
River Hill girls' basketball coach Theresa Waters once said that Jenna was more outspoken while Julia was more of a calming presence.
"Personality-wise, I think Jenna is a little more aggressive – kind of in-your-face, but not in a bad way. I'd like to think I'm a little more laid-back," Julia said. "She'll bring out the toughness in me and I'll crack a joke if she's being a little too aggressive. We even each other out."
Those subtle differences show through when the twins are asked to describe each other as players.
"I'd say Julia is a bull dodger, real aggressive and tough-minded – just an overall A-plus player," Jenna said.
"Jenna is a total workhorse on both sides of the field. She really puts it all out there all the time and does whatever it takes to win games," Julia said.
Jenna Collins has received more acclaim at the collegiate level, being named first team All-Patriot League for three straight seasons. She was recently selected as Patriot League Midfielder of the Year. Julia has not earned any postseason honors.
Trust me, I am very mad that Julia doesn't get more accolades because she is so deserving," Jenna said of her sister.
Julia does not mind one bit, saying "I'm really happy for Jenna and all of her accomplishments. I feel like her accolades are my accolades."
Teammates have learned how to tell the Collins twins apart. Senior captain Morgan Young knows that Jenna has a more distinct widow's peak and a mole on her right cheek. She has noticed that Julia tends to be a little quieter.
"They are both very friendly and outgoing. Jenna had five exams in a row today and is still out here smiling. I've never seen Julia in a bad mood," Young said. "I do think they are very different players. The way they dodge, the way they feed … they definitely have different strengths and styles. I think shooting-wise they are very similar."
Timchal still gets the Collins twins confused, referring to Jenna as Julia and visa versa.
"That first year was very hard. I just could not tell them apart. When they were sophomores, I thought I had it down," Timchal said. "Now that they are juniors, I realize I really don't know the difference. That's a great testament to how good they are because their play is very much identical."