Media Stories / January 2021

The Future is BRIGHT
Meet Caitlin & Olivia Smith

by Alexandra Fee
Photos by Laura Reoch, September-Days Photography

2020 brought the promise of a great new decade and year, and with it, Covid-19 . It undoubtedly changed
the world and placed us all in the center of countless history books to come. But, like so many other difficult times in history, there is a wisdom that rises from the ashes, from the tragedy and isolation. Underneath the masks we wear and beyond the new-age vocabulary (i.e. social distancing, Zoom),
something great is waiting to emerge. Research and history have made it abundantly clear that optimism is a critical factor in how we choose to navigate this worldwide crisis. As many of us struggle to find that
elusive silver lining, despite the daily headlines, it was refreshing and inspiring to discover Tamalpais High School Seniors Caitlin and Olivia Smith, identical twins who embody that sense of optimism we are all seeking. Make no mistake, while some of their story may sound familiar; two amazing girls, raised by
wonderful parents in a community drenched in unlimited resources, it’s also a story about individual
choices, sacrifice and leadership. A story about what our future can look like if these two very special girls
are representative of other young graduates who will “rise from the ashes” of 2020—-And if we’re lucky, might just lead us into a Renaissance of our own.

After featuring Tam High’s Class of 2020 in our July issue, the first class of seniors to endure the repercussions of the pandemic, it was serendipitous that once our Mill Valley Living team unanimously agreed on the title for this issue, “The Future is Bright”, that same day the first vaccine was approved and our luck was doubled when introduced to Caitlin and Olivia.

Caitlin and Olivia were born in San Francisco, 48 minutes apart at UCSF. In 5th grade, while attending Park School, they decided to give volleyball a try beyond playing soccer, and joined the Absolute Volleyball program. After competing in both sports, they eventually focused exclusively on volleyball as they entered their freshman year at Tam. They are very accomplished athletes. Both girls are standouts, serving as Co-Captains along with Tam senior, Kayli Morris. They credit Tam’s Girls Varsity Volleyball Coach, Ray Karter with instilling a new sense of dedication and competitiveness as he elevated the Tam
program to new heights the past couple of seasons. Meanwhile, Caitlin and Olivia continue to spread their
love for the game by coaching younger girls with the recently established Firebolts Volleyball, an inclusive, competitive girls volleyball program. Coach Ray recalled how Caitlin and Olivia demonstrated their undeniable volleyball prowess worthy of
varsity play—an hour into tryouts as freshman. Although identical twins, Ray said the way he tells them apart is how they hit the volleyball. As a coach, he identifies their “quiet” competitiveness as quiet and stealth as he called out how “they really want to battle, how they never complain and never ever have a bad attitude when they lose.” He said, “The girls are the best kind of competitive you could ask for.” It is clear they have that internal fighting spirit that works for competitive sports along with a fierce desire to win which drives them. After coaching them for the past four years, Ray could not say enough about Caitlin and Olivia’s internal fighting spirit and attitude. Olivia plays the prime hitter spot— a high pressure
position that she plays fearlessly according to Coach Ray. All of her plays, whether on offense or defense, “she just does it” is how Ray sums her up. With Caitlin, he remembers when Caitlin’s knee went out which forced her to sit on the sidelines for what seemed like an eternity, close to half of the season, yet she never missed a practice. She helped keep score, always cheering and passing balls to the girls on the court. When she finally received clearance to play, she started in the back row, “Yes! I get to play!” was her response as she quickly and unexpectedly emerged as a star, back row player. Having been on offense as a setter her whole life, she graciously took over a defensive position. Caitlin’s versatility shined brightly.