Polk County's Jasmine (4) and Jessica Baird have played key roles in Polk County's success the past two seasons

A pair of Polk County soccer players have the opposition seeing double.

Twins Jessica and Jasmine Baird bring a burst of talent and energy to the Wolverines, something head coach Lennox Charles thought would be the case when he watched the girls play travel soccer together.

“He came to the Kirby Cup (soccer camp) and we were there, and he asked us to play for the middle school,” Jasmine explained. “But we were homeschooled.”

The girls are still partially homeschooled, but do attend Polk County High for a portion of the day. And now, Charles has his wish. The Baird twins are two of the Wolverines’ most talented defenders, and contribute on offense as well. There’s a clear difference when both are in the lineup, as evidenced by the start to this year’s season.

Jasmine was injured during Polk County’s 0-0-3 start, sidelined by a high ankle sprain. She returned in a narrow 2-1 loss to Hendersonville, and promptly helped key a four-match winning streak. Her experience is crucial to a young team, Charles said.

“Just not having one of them is a challenge,” he said. “Jasmine returning (against Hendersonville) made a huge difference, because that’s one more inexperienced person you don’t have to put out there in the middle. And she’s capable of shutting down one side of the field.”

“We really missed her,” Jessica said of her twin’s absence. “She shuts down everything on her side, and we play really well together.”

Jessica Baird
Jasmine Baird

They’ve been playing together since they were seven at both the recreation and travel level. Even in the offseason, since their yard at home is pitched to a degree that doesn’t allow much practice, they’ll practice at their grandmother’s instead.

The bond they share is evident on the field.

“We’ve been playing together all our lives,” Jessica said. “We both know where the other is going to go.”

They’re also able to provide a scouting report on each other, as each is well aware of the other’s strengths.

“She doesn’t let anybody turn,” Jessica said of Jasmine. “If she’s in front of anyone, they can’t turn her. She’s also really good at getting up the sideline.”

“She’s really good at getting to the ball,” Jasmine said of Jessica. “It doesn’t matter where, she’s just always around the ball.”

Charles said both girls are outstanding players.

“They’re both just so solid,” he said. “They’re completely dependable. You know what you’re going to get. They do things well, their workrate is great. They do all of the things you want everybody to do.

“Having both of them out there just, I think especially defensively, keeps the other defenders a little calmer. We don’t feel so rushed.”