Pickering’s Sommer and Taylor Sharpe commit to George Mason University

Track twins are members of The Speed Academy

PICKERING -- Taylor and Sommer Sharpe came into the world as a package deal, and that’s how the two will embark on their university endeavours as well.

Taylor, the older of the twins by eight minutes, and Sommer are off together to George Mason University in Virginia where they will run track for the Patriots on scholarship.

“Essentially my parents did see that as beneficial to have the package deal, financial wise, travel wise,” says Sommer of heading to a NCAA university together. “It was always a package deal but it did make it more difficult when you’re talking to a university because now you’re talking about two kids coming together.”

Originally, Taylor had a clear vision of what she wanted from her university experience, but over time, changed her mind.

“At one point I wanted to go to a big school,” she says. “A big name school, with a huge football team. Somewhere in a big city.

“Then I realized those schools are far away. I don’t have family there. The education isn’t as good as at George Mason. I won’t be with my sister and I was going to be a small fish in a huge pond. I looked at the pros and cons and (George) Mason seemed like the best option.”

The 17-year-old Grade 12 students at St. Mary Catholic High School are members of the Pickering-based Speed Academy, coached by their dad, Tony, and mom Colene. Genetics were certainly an influence, as Tony won an Olympic bronze medal as a member of the Canadian men’s 4x100m relay team at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, and Colene represented Canada on the international stage as well.

But those lofty credentials didn’t make their way down the gene pool immediately. The twins ran track for the local club and high school, but the dedication to the sport wasn’t where it needed to be to reach the next level. That changed for both last summer.

“In Grade 11 it turned serious because other kids on my track team were getting scholarships and I saw it was a reality,” says Sommer, who changed her ways with more focus, leading to a drive for success.

Taylor came to the same conclusion.

“Everyone here who runs track that’s my age was trying to make the national team and I wanted to make it,” she says. “So, I had to get myself together and I made it. I had an awesome experience.”

She wanted the travel to places like Europe and Ukraine for competitions to continue, striving for a trip to the Pan Ams and Olympics as future goals.

Taylor is looking forward to contributing to the track team as a freshman, running the 200 and 400-metre, while taking communications as her major. Sommer is a hurdler, covering the 100 and 400-metre distances, who will be taking criminal justice, with hopes of becoming a lawyer.

Tony Sharpe helps score scholarships for track and field stars

tony sharpe

Sharpe, the former Canadian Olympian, runs the Speed Academy, a developmental track and field club in Pickering, which has helped dozens of athletes get NCAA scholarships.

The club was founded in 2006 and Sharpe left his corporate account manager’s job at Bell to track athletes full-time a few years later.

“I’m a full-time coach, you know, not something people do often in Canada,” says Sharpe, 59, adding about 50 Speed Academy athletes have received scholarships.