Twin gymnasts are all business
Already two-sport standouts, YouTube celebrities and business mavens, what more can Jefferson High School's Monica and Shelby Church do?
Special to The Seattle Times
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Presenting Monica and Shelby Church — twins, Jefferson High School athletes, entrepreneurial teen YouTube stars and aspiring film-industry talents — by the numbers:
Diving: At last fall's Class 4A state meet, Shelby placed second; Monica, nursing a back injury, took fifth, her third top-six finish in three seasons.
Gymnastics: Monica took fifth in all-around at the district meet last week, Shelby 12th. Their team-high scores helped Jefferson advance to Friday's state meet in Tacoma, one of only four 4A schools to quality. In individual state finals, Monica placed seventh on floor last year; Shelby took second on beam in 2011.
YouTube: Monica had, as of midday Monday, 147,686 subscribers to her Hairodynamic YouTube channel, one teen's guide to hair, makeup and fashion advice and opinions. The channel was started in 2009, her freshman year. Total views for her 250-plus videos: more than 13.8 million. No foolin'.
Shelby's channel, Teenmakeuptips, debuted not long after Monica's startup took off and now features 218 clips with 117,432 subscribers and more than 9.2 million views.
"There's a whole community of probably thousands of girls making beauty videos," Monica said. "We just think it's fun."
Their videos are one-person projects filmed in their parents' home with a simple camera-tripod setup. Core content, Shelby says, is fashion, hair and makeup. Monica has tried some do-it-yourself clips lately, showing how to breathe new life into dust-gathering things. She just collected 100,000-plus views for a shoe makeover.
"I took fabric paint and painted them black," she said. "Then I put blue and purple paint on a sponge and just smeared it together so it looked like space. I put on rhinestones and sparkles and it turned out looking like galaxy-print shoes, which I don't think you can buy in stores."
So simple. So clever. Their dad, former Jefferson baseball coach Mike Church, admires their ingenuity and says that ad revenue and product tie-ins connected to their channels has paid for their cars and helped them save a decent stash for college.
Their exposure has also meant web-generated celebrity status.
"On family outings it is not uncommon to have young girls come up to them and ask to have their picture taken with one of them," dad Church said. "It's pretty funny, but they handle it well, I think."
So these are exciting times for Monica, the elder sibling by seven minutes, and Shelby, the twin who brightened her naturally "dirty blond" hair with a lighter shade while Monica went dark.
Last Saturday they helped Jefferson edge Mead, the state 4A defending champion, 169.7 to 169.2 to earn the final berth to the state meet.
The next morning they flew with their mom and some friends to Southern California to celebrate their 18th birthdays. Destination: Disneyland.
"I really wanted to make it to state so I could imagine I was in an ad," Monica said. " 'Hey, you made it to state. What are you going to do now?' I'm going to Disneyland!"
Both expect to return to California together this fall, perhaps at a community college (with a diving program, the sport they plan to continue) before advancing to a four-year school with a serious cinematography department (Chapman College, USC or UCLA are among their faves).
This Friday, though, they'll be in Tacoma for what both agree will be their final gymnastics meet, a sport they took up at age 7. Shelby plans to go out with a bang.
"I want to upgrade some skills in my beam routine, add a back tuck and just do some of the things that I haven't risked trying yet because it will be my last meet ever," she said. "I just want to give it all or nothing."
Monica, stronger on vault and floor, is primarily aiming to have fun with her team and her sister.
"We get along really well," she said of Shelby, who favors beam and bars. "We're pretty much together all the time. I'll look at her face and I'll totally know what she's thinking.
"It's not like twin telepathy is a real thing, but we just know each other so well that a lot of the time we know what each other is thinking. And we know we're going to have fun at this meet."
Watch YouTube videos of the Church twins.