For a while there, Sue Brill wondered if it was in her twins' genes. The family that aches together . . .
"Injuries and illnesses. It just went from one to the other," Brill said. "The poor kids. Their entire sophomore year was pretty much lost."
Kennedy Curtis and her brother, Callan, are doing fine now. They're seniors at Brookfield East and top performers on the Spartans' basketball teams.
"For a while, though, we wondered if there was a Curtis Curse," said Brill, the twins' mother.
The twins' sophomore year was a strange, painful and frustrating ride. Here's a chronological recap of the Curtis twins' 2006-'07 school year:
• First, Kennedy Curtis suffered a broken foot while preparing for the start of basketball season. It wasn't a season-ending injury, but it spoiled her excitement over making the varsity as a sophomore.
• A couple of weeks later, Callan Curtis suffered a broken hand during a junior varsity game against West Allis Hale.
"It was kind of weird when I broke my foot and he broke his hand so soon afterward," Kennedy said. "A lot of people asked me if it was a twin thing."
• In a game against West Allis Central, Kennedy hit the ground chasing a loose ball and had a West Allis Central player roll over onto her arm, leaving her with a partially torn ligament and a dislocated elbow.
• Less than two weeks later, Callan was sidelined with a patellar tendon problem in his left knee.
• Those injuries healed, but Kennedy missed the end of basketball season after coming down with pneumonia . . . and soon afterward, Callan was diagnosed with a massive bronchial infection.
"We had to feed them tons of antibiotics," Brill recalled.
Three mishaps times two? It all seemed a little too strange to be purely coincidental.
"At school, my friends would rib me a little bit, saying how I was always copycatting my sister," Callan said. "I had to admit it was kind of unusual."
"We were known for playing a lot of the same sports, even back when we were kids," Kennedy said. "A lot of people knew us from our sports teams."
It wasn't that the twins aren't tough. Callan, for instance, stayed in the game after breaking his hand against Hale. He made two free throws after the play that caused the injury.
"It just stung at first. It didn't start hurting badly until 10 minutes after the game," he said.
"I mean, could anything more happen to us? It couldn't get much worse," Kennedy said. "But since we were only sophomores, that helped a lot. We knew we had a lot to look forward to."
At least Kennedy did. A 5-foot-9 post player, she made the Spartans' varsity lineup as a junior. But Callan, a 6-2 forward, re-injured his knee playing spring AAU basketball, requiring surgery that cost him his entire junior year.
"I was happy for her but, yeah, I was kind of mad I couldn't play, too," Callan said.
Fortunately, the twins have an uncle, Kurt Konkel, who happens to be an orthopedic surgeon.
"For a while we had a standing Thursday appointment with him to have something checked or to have a cast put on or taken off, or something like that," Brill said. "Uncle Kurt came to the rescue."
Even though Callan couldn't play as a junior, he did get the OK to practice shooting. So he attended every Spartans practice and shootaround and simply worked on his shooting form.
"Now, his forte is shooting, and it's really helping him out in terms of playing time," Brill said.
And Kennedy has made the most of her experience. She is the leading scorer for the Spartans (4-8 overall, 2-5 Greater Metro Conference), averaging 11.5 points per game.
"I'm one of the shorter posts in the league, so I have to be aggressive," said Kennedy, who added that while her foot injury continued to bother her at times during junior year, there have been no problems this season.
Callan is the No. 3 scorer on East's boys team (2-9 overall, 0-5 Greater Metro), averaging 6.9 ppg.
And Brill is enjoying the fruits of her family's earlier challenges, spending busy Tuesdays and Fridays buzzing back and forth between varsity boys and girls games.
"It's all been worth it," Callan said. "When I got back out there, it had been almost an entire year since I had actually played. It felt weird to be out there, but good at the same time."
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