Holmes bros. dazzle the ladies, opponents

Caleb and Nick Holmes ’08, the first set of twins in the history of Yale basketball, know exactly how to make a girl’s dream come true.

Last Christmas, Caleb wrote a children’s book — aptly titled “A Young Girl’s Dream” — for his brother’s girlfriend that spelled out the three simple steps for eternal bliss. First, the lucky lady will teach at Brougham Elementary School, the very school that produced the Holmes twins. Second, she will live with Nick in her dream house, which is separated from Caleb’s home by just a single basketball court. And finally, the youngest Holmes brother, Denver, will move in right next door to seal the deal.

Caleb Holmes ’08 splits a group of Brown defenders and drives to the basket during the Bulldogs’ 76-71 loss to the Bears at John J. Lee on Jan. 20.
Matt Lucas
Caleb Holmes ’08 splits a group of Brown defenders and drives to the basket during the Bulldogs’ 76-71 loss to the Bears at John J. Lee on Jan. 20.

In the end, Caleb’s main character has everything she could ever want. Though the realization of this “Holmes compound” may be years down the road, even now there is very little that keeps the two brothers apart.

Their father Mark was a professional basketball player in the 1980s, so it was natural for the boys to begin their athletic careers at an early age. Since the third grade, Caleb and Nick have played over 100 games per year — always on the same team.

Their family life revolves around basketball. Family vacations mean trips to out-of-state tournaments, and even holidays feature their fair share of hoops. Though Mrs. Holmes has spent years in a home buzzing with basketball talk and ESPN, both she and her husband still try to make the trek from Kansas City to attend as many Yale games as possible.

“Basketball has always been an important part of our family,” Nick said. “Our dad pretty much comes to all our home games, and our mom usually comes when Denver doesn’t have a game.”

The years together have strengthened the duo’s relationship on the court. The Midwestern pair have a healthy competitive spirit with one another, which pays big dividends at game time.

“There’s a very big sibling rivalry,” men’s basketball captain Sam Kaplan ’07 said. “They push each other to the limit and make each other better.”

Both have the ability to play every position except for center, and in Caleb’s words, he and his brother are “basically interchangeable” on the court. Men’s basketball head coach James Jones said the twins play off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Caleb is known for his ball handling, and Nick is known for his reach and athleticism.

“They always know where each other are when they’re on the court, and they make a point to find each other,” Jones said.

Kaplan cited the brothers’ knowledge of the game and court awareness as their strengths.

“Both have a very high basketball IQ,” Kaplan said. “They do everything right on the floor.”

This especially rings true considering the accolades both have garnered since coming to Yale. Caleb has played in every Yale game since his freshman year, and has added a lot of hardware to his shelf. He received the John C. Cobb Award, which is given to Yale’s top freshman; was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week in Feb. 2005; and last year received the Eggie Miles Award, offered to the top foul shooter. Not to be outdone, Nick was the only player on the team to have started all 29 games last year. He was also the top blocker and sunk 29 three-pointers, the third best on the team.

But the twins would be the last to boast about these honors. Both their coach and their friends characterized them as generally quiet guys on the court.

“On the court they’re not too outspoken. They display their leadership through the way they play,” forward Eric Flato ’08 said. “Off the court, they’re fun, they’re talkative.”

Outside the gym, where Nick and Caleb don’t boast their numbers (23 and 33, respectively), the lanky 6’6” players are a little harder to distinguish. Right now, Nick’s longer hair might be the lone giveaway, but their friends have plenty of other ways to tell them apart.

“We always make fun of Nick being the meaner one and Caleb being the nicer one,” Flato said.

Their teammates lightheartedly call Nick “no fun,” and his brother thinks he’s figured out the reason why — Caleb explained that Nick has been “kind of a downer” since his girlfriend moved to Italy.

The single Holmes has earned a nickname of his own as well. They call the internet addict “CCWK” — Cool Caleb With a Keyboard.

“He’s an AIM fiend,” Kaplan said. “It’s where he tries to work all his magic with the ladies.”

Despite their small differences, the two have similar plans for their futures, and as roommates, teammates and friends, they are almost inseparable. Both tentatively plan on working in finance in New York for a few years, but further down the road they aspire to coach college basketball. Caleb and Nick admit that it’s an extremely difficult field to break into, but still relish the thought of a future on the sidelines — separate ones, for the first time ever.

Basketball or not, everyone seems to have the same assessment of Caleb and Nick as does Brant Hollander ’08, another friend of theirs.

“They’re good Midwestern folk.”

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