To say there’s a little bit of a competitive rivalry between Kaden and Kelsey Shelton is not far-fetched.
The twins, who will be among the 180 graduates to receive diplomas tonight at Jasper High School, were both star athletes on multiple teams at the high school.
Kaden excelled as a running back on the Vikings’ football team, as well as playing both basketball and baseball. He was also involved in show choir.
Kelsey, meanwhile, was an integral part of the back-to-back Class 5A state championship volleyball team at the school. She also was part of the Vikings’ basketball and track and field teams.
“We’ve always been competitive,” Kaden said.
That competitive nature took a hit when schools were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It especially hit hard for seniors like Kaden and Kelsey who got no closure on their athletic careers.
“I was playing one of my favorites sports —baseball — when all this began, it’s kind of sad that I won’t be able to finish that,” Kaden said.
“I really wish I could have finished my track season,” Kelsey said, “because I think we were going to be really good this year. I also didn’t get to finish school and see all my friends that one last time other than graduation.”
Missing a big part of their senior year was tough on both Kelsey and Kaden.
“I was really sad about it because I really wanted to get that full experience of being a senior,” Kelsey said. “Nobody can help what happened, but it’s still tough.”
Both Kaden and Kelsey have tried to stay busy throughout the past few months.
Kaden has been working as an aide at Ridgewod Health Care Center, so he perhaps understands a little more than most high school seniors what’s been going on with the pandemic. “We’ve had to be really cautious up there,” he said, “to make sure that our residents are safe.”
He also has tried to stay physically fit by participating in Crossfit each day.
Kelsey, meanwhile, took a more laidback approach because her job at The Shoe Dept. in the Jasper Mall was put on hold.
“I’ve just been sitting at home,” she said. “I couldn’t go to work because we were closed. I’ve been bored a lot, but I have gotten home-cooked meals every day.”
Kaden said he’s not really been frightened because of the coronoavirus, mainly because with his job he sees the preventive measures being taken to keep everyone safe.
“I think that and the fact that I work out every day has reduced my chances of getting it,” he said, adding that he is being cautious when necessary.
Kelsey, on the other hand, admits to being a little nervous. She has been wearing a mask when going out in public “trying to be cautious,” she said.
The twins turned 18 just last week, and following tonight’s graduation they have plans to further their education.
Kelsey will be attending the University of North Alabama, with plans to major in nursing. “I just like helping people,” she said.
Kaden is hoping to attend either Xavier University in New Orleans or Spring Hill College in Mobile to play baseball. He’s hoping to also go into the medical field, possibly as a physical therapist.
For now, the memories of the success they both had in not only the classroom but also in athletics makes tonight’s graduation a little bittersweet.
“I’m really proud of what we accomplished,” Kelsey said. “It makes me feel good to be part of that because we worked hard for what we got. It was really fun because I made memories with my friends because we got to do that together.”
“I’m a little jealous of her because she got two state championships,” said Kaden, who had his own share of success on the football field and basketball court.
Both admit they cheer on the other when they’re playing. They also admit to being very competitive.
“Yes, we are,” Kelsey said. “When we were little we used to race all the time to see who was faster.”
“We don’t do that much any more because she knows who’s faster,” Kaden said with a laugh.
As for their favorite memories of high school, Kaden said being selected Mr. Jasper High School ranks among the top for him. “I wasn’t expecting that,” he said.
“My favorite memory would have to be winning state championships — twice,” Kelsey said.
Both were pretty good in the classroom. Kelsey is a member of the National Honor Society; Kaden was a member of the Beta Club.