Freshman guards Dynn (No. 13) and Lynn (No. 31) Leaupepe bring a new sort of connection to the Cal Poly women’s basketball program, proving their worst early at the Division I level. | Joseph Pack/Mustang News

Harry Chang

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When freshman twins Dynn and Lynn Leaupepe first stepped onto the vacant basketball court at a YMCA in Camarillo, California, success wasn’t finding a ticket to stardom, getting onto a team or gaining a stage for an audience.

Success simply meant escaping dance practice.

“We’d go to hula practice, and it wasn’t really our thing,” Dynn said. “So we went to the gym instead. And even though we didn’t really know what basketball was, it was just fun. So we kept doing that instead of dancing.”

On the schoolyard, the fourth grade twins soon found that the court could be just as fun. They began playing basketball with the boys and found that success, to them, meant having something social to do at recess and beating the boys every now and then.

High school came around and the twins decided to try out for the team. At first, success for them was just making the team. However, they soon found basketball, as a sport, was much different than basketball as a game.

“We didn’t really get the idea of playing basketball yet,” Lynn said. “We still didn’t understand the fundamentals, you know. At that point we were just crazy freshmen throwing up shots.”

It wasn’t until the summer before their junior year at Camarillo High School that Dynn and Lynn realized just how important basketball was to them.

The twins found a club team in Long Beach to play for and began traveling south every week to practice and play other teams. The more they listened to coaches and their parents, the more they began getting noticed by Big West schools.

Cal Poly women’s basketball head coach Faith Mimnaugh was one of the first to take note. While she admits she still often relies on their numbers to differentiate the twins, one thing Mimnaugh recognized from the start was their talent.

“We saw them playing in the summertime with a club team, and obviously their athletic abilities were the first things that really stood out,” Mimnaugh said. “Their speed, their strength, their leaping ability — all of those qualities were really outstanding from the get-go.”

Mimnaugh also took note of the Leaupepes’ modest personalities, which she saw as being a product of their strong upbringing and tight-knit family.

“Their family and their faith puts them in a position where they really are humble,” Mimnaugh continued. “They’re always seeking to learn and grow and they don’t get offended if there’s any criticism coming their way. It’s always, ‘Okay, this is going to help me get better’ or, ‘Whatever the team needs, Coach.’ Those are the answers you get from the very best athletes in the world, those willing and wanting to get information and grow.”

The twins admit the adjustment to college life has not exactly been seamless. They’ve learned quickly that being on a Division I NCAA basketball team means having to prepare constantly, take their studies on the road and go up against top-notch talent every night.

“In high school, you could slack off here and there,” Lynn said. “But in college? In college, if you slack off then you’re already behind everyone else, so using our time more wisely has become a big difference.”

“On the court,” Dynn continued, “we like driving the ball, attacking the basket and rebounding the ball. And in high school it was easier. In college, everyone was ‘that person’ in high school, which makes every part of the game a bit more challenging.”

If the Leaupepe twins are having a hard time adjusting to the college game, it has not shown.

Dynn and Lynn have started their rookie seasons averaging 6.3 and 7 points per game, respectively. They’re playing some of the best defense in the entire conference, notching 16 and 19 steals through 12 games to put them in the top three of that category. Dynn and Lynn also have a mind-boggling 57 and 64 rebounds on the year.

Aside from numbers, Mimnaugh explained why she thinks the twins could be on track to become two of the best players in the program’s history she points to one play in particular: a scrimmage-game pass play, which had one sister finding the other with a genius ball that left one set of hands before the other had even made her cut.

“The ability to get the pass, the ability to see the pass,” Mimnaugh marveled. “I don’t think any other basketball players in the first part of their careers could pull that off without having that type of chemistry already developed.

“It was a sensational pull-off and we as a staff were all like — mouths dropped — ‘this is gonna be fun.’”

Today, success still remains an ever-changing idea for the twins. While both hope to one day play basketball professionally, the parks and recreation freshmen would rather continue to take it one day at a time and have fun while they do it until they know they are ready to leverage their game and their degrees into something more.

“For us, basketball relates back to life,” Dynn concluded. “You can’t not work hard and expect things to come to you. You have to go and get it.”

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