“When I saw those 300-pound Chicago Bears football players chatting it up with my sister, Rachel, my jaw dropped,” says Matt.
“When I heard about Matt’s hurdling injury last year, I was sobbing,” Rachel says.
Together or apart, Matt Kearney '13, a communication major who loves to preach, and Rachel Kearney '13, a journalism major who loves to write about sports, share a special friendship and Christian kinship — as well as being twins.
Chosen by Olivet for Who’s Who Among College Students 2013, this is the first time Matt and Rachel have received the same honor.
Grounded in God’s Word
Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Matt and Rachel are the son and daughter of Mike and Kathy Kearney, now of Marion, Iowa.
“Our parents met as missionaries in Kodiak, Alaska,” Rachel shares. “Our dad is from Iowa, and our mom is from California.” Before leaving Alaska, the Kearneys adopted their oldest son, Tim, before having their twins.
From their youngest years, Matt and Rachel shared a passion for sports. “Our parents helped us set the right priorities,” Matt says. “Youth group always came before sports events in our family.”
Their dad gave them a checklist of what they had to do before having free time. They studied the Bible and listened to Christian music together as a family.
Rachel pursued basketball, and Matt was involved in track and field. When possible, they attended each other’s events to cheer and encourage.
Dressing as The Black Dot or a Star Wars storm trooper, Matt creatively supported Rachel from the stands as her “super fan” during her basketball career. Even at what turned out to be her last game as an Olivet Tiger, he showed up wearing a tiger suit and was even featured in a local newspaper article.
Putting down roots in Bourbonnais
After coming to Bears Training Camp at Olivet when they were in fifth grade, Matt became curious about the University. When Coach Mike McDowell recruited him for the Tigers’ track and field team during their senior year in high school, Rachel began to look seriously at Olivet and Tigerball (Tiger women’s basketball). Both wanted to attend a private Christian college, and Olivet turned out to be the right place for them.
When they came to Olivet, they always had each other while they were making new friends. Even through their senior year, they would often text each other to ask, “Hey, what are you up to tonight?” Getting together might include watching a movie or eating at Panda Express.
“We often finish each other’s sentences!” Rachel says. “We’re both thinkers and speak our minds but in different ways.”
“We both talk a lot and have a lot to say,” Matt adds. “With each other, we have a built-in honesty. We don’t sugarcoat anything. We are one of each other’s best friends. We are blessed that we get along so well.”
“I’m the goofiest when I’m with him,” says Rachel as she looks sideways at Matt.
Time of transition
July 28, 2012: the first time Matt and Rachel weren’t together for their birthday celebration. Matt had just returned from preaching at evangelistic meetings in Africa and was in Nashville with On the Go Ministries. Rachel was working at Chicago Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnais. Although the opportunities were very different, both were pursuing their passions.
“Lately, we’ve had a lot of page turners,” says Matt as he makes eye contact with Rachel. Rachel’s basketball career has ended, and Matt has hung up his tiger suit. They are graduating with Olivet’s Class of 2013. Their older brother, Tim, and his wife are expecting a baby, so they'll become aunt and uncle later this year.
“God is in our relationship as siblings and twins,” Rachel says. “This is a time of prayerful thinking and action for us, figuring out what’s next and if we’ll be together or even close by. We trust that He’s going before us.”
“Never forget the influence you can have on another person,” Matt adds. “Rachel planted that influence in me, and she’s helped me grow so much as a person.”