Heated rivalry: Sheltons pick Hope, Calvin

Published 8:08 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013

MacKenzie, left, and Michael Shelton have picked Calvin and Hope college to continue their academic and athletic careers. Calvin and Hope are bitter rivals. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

MacKenzie, left, and Michael Shelton have picked Calvin and Hope college to continue their academic and athletic careers. Calvin and Hope are bitter rivals. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

For much of their lives, it was hard finding something that fraternal twins Michael and MacKenzie Shelton didn’t have in common.

Both played several sports at Brandywine High School. Both root for Notre Dame, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bears. The two were co-valedictorians of their senior class and had the same A.C.T. scores.

“We’re both very competitive and that’s why we were both valedictorians,” said MacKenzie. “We always try to 1-up each other. We always studied with each other and wanted to get better grades.”

With great grades and athletic ability, college was the next challenge for Michael and MacKenzie.

Surely, the two would have the same thought process and pick the same college.

Wrong. That’s when the two split apart. Even more surprising is the two schools that the two chose to attend. Michael will be attending Hope College in Holland and MacKenzie will be attending Calvin College, in Grand Rapids.

The two colleges are Division III, Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association arch-rivals. MacKenzie verbally committed in March, while Michael verbally committed in the late spring. MacKenzie is going to play basketball at the school, while Michael plans on playing football.

“Michael told me he was going to visit Hope and I said, ‘OK’,” MacKenzie said. “He said he loved it and he knew where he wanted to go. I heard about the rivalry between the two schools and I was kind of shocked that Michael was going to go to Hope. As it settled in, I was pretty cool with it. We have a pretty close relationship. We haven’t spent a lot of time apart. It’s going to be weird.”

How does Michael feel about the situation?

“We’re still going to be pretty close, but our competitiveness might get turned up at games,” said Michael, who chose Hope over Manchester (Ind.) and Trine (Ind.) College. “It’s a huge rivalry. Neither of us knows how big the rivalry is until we go to our schools.”

Lake Michigan College was the only other school that MacKenzie, who will major in physical education and minor in math, slightly considered attending.

“Every year during the summer our Brandywine basketball team played in Shootouts at Calvin where we played other high school teams in the area,” MacKenzie said. “When I went there I fell in love with the place. I loved the coaches and the academics were also a great fit.”

There has been mixed reactions to the Shelton twins attending rival colleges.

“My friends really don’t know what the rivalry is all about,” MacKenzie said. “At orientation a couple weeks ago people told me, ‘that’s crazy’, when I told people my brother was going to Hope. My parents (Mike and Kathleen) are welcoming into it. They just wanted us to choose a college that we wanted to go to. They’ve been very supportive.”

Michael has heard the biggest response from his athletic teammates at Hope.

“The football players think it’s crazy,” Michael said. “My friends really don’t know how big the rivalry is and my parents think it’s funny. But our parents are happy that they get to go to games and being so close.”

MacKenzie thinks her mother might be taking it a little too far when it comes to her and Michael supporting each other at athletic events.

“My mom says when I go to football games I have to wear Hope stuff and that my brother has to wear Calvin stuff when he goes to my basketball games,” Mackenzie said. “I doubt that’s going to happen.”

“My mom says I have to cheer for MacKenzie,” Michael said. “I’ll cheer her on, but I want to see Hope win.”