‘Until we drop’: Identical twin sisters refereeing volleyball for 53 years show no signs of slowing down

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 5:39 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - 74-year-old identical twin sisters are serving up double takes to fans and players alike across Central Texas as the pair continues to officiate volleyball games in what is their 53rd year of refereeing the game.

Gatesville natives Karyl Schiller and Janice Douglas say everyone who watches them work thinks they’re seeing double.

“It’s perfect because we’re dynamic with each other,” Karyl said. “If you watch us work, our arms do the same thing on both sides of the net.”

“We’re definitely synchronized so when her whistle goes off, I already know what she’s going to call,” Janice added.

The ladies have similar stature, the same silver hair with bangs and a ponytail and a shared appreciation for educating while they work.

They finish each other’s sentences and their arm motions while calling a game are almost always synchronized.

(Julie Hays)

They’re known for being stern but thoughtful in how they approach players, especially young girls.

It comes natural to the longtime referees who both work in public education.

Janice is an interventionist’s aid at Cedar Valley Elementary in the Killeen ISD and Karyl is an inclusion special education teacher at the Killeen Career Center.

“We get lots of compliments that we help especially younger kids,” Janice said. “We help educate them while we work. If we call you out of position, we explain why you’re out of position. We explain how to substitute properly.”

The sisters graduated Gatesville High School in 1967 before attending Tarleton and later Baylor University.

It was while they were students at Baylor, they first picked up whistles to referee intermural sports in 1968 and never quit.

“We started competition and UIL ball in 1970 when we started teaching school,” Janice said. “Karyl was in McGregor, and I was in Belton ISD as teachers in 1970. We both coached volleyball and refed it. If you coached, you had to referee like the junior high games. We drove the bus. We refereed the game.”

(Julie Hays)

The sisters say they’ve officiated thousands of games over the years from as high a level as the old Southwest Conference to travel ball. They now exclusively work junior high and high school games locally.

“We’re just volleyball people,” Janice said.

“When girls play volleyball, they go on to be good citizens in our society,” Karyl said. “They work because you can’t play volleyball if you don’t work so they learn work ethic.”

The sisters say they’re generally on the same page about calls, but admit they’ve disagreed a time or two.

“Whoever is on the stand is always right, no matter what, whether you like it or not,” they laughed.

Karyl and Janice only accept games now where they’ll work together. It gives them a chance to catch up and enjoy their first and second favorite pastimes together.

(Julie Hays)

“We have only accepted games together in the last many, many, many years because we like to eat Mexican food when we finish refereeing,” Janice laughed. “We are the connoisseur of all the Mexican food restaurants together.”

The sisters smiled when asked how much longer they planned to be on volleyball courts together across the area together.

“Until we drop,” the twins said.

Of course, in unison.