ASHLAND, Va. -- It's a three hour drive from Chestertown, Maryland to Ashland, home of Randolph-Macon College.
Four athletes, all from the same family, decided to check out the school together one autumn afternoon during their senior year of high school.
"We came in the fall and there was a soccer game and a football game," recalled Rachel Jones. "It was probably one of the best days you could have visited the school.
The Jones siblings are quadruplets. Rachel and Hannah are identical twins, while sister Lexi and brother Jake are fraternal. They spent their entire lives growing up together, and college offered an opportunity for any of them to break out on their own.
"We all wanted to stay together but our parents were pushing us not to have to stay together," Hannah explained.
They kept their college choices secret from each other but announced them all at the same time.
"Mom called us all downstairs and we got together and listed them 1 through 4 and number 1 was exactly the same," remembered brother Jake.
"We could tell that we were all feeling the same feelings and thinking the same thing," added sister Lexi. "So I wasn't really that surprised."
So the Jones quads as they are known, packed up and headed south for the next four years, together, but not without reservations about their continued proximity to one another.
"Am I going to be Rachel Jones while I'm here or am I going to be one of the quads?" asked Rachel, a middie on the RMC women's lacrosse team. "That was something we really had to think about and decide how we were going to set ourselves apart from each other while we were here."
For the first two years, they lived literally next door to each other.
They all played lacrosse and for a season, they also played soccer. It can take some students months or years to develop a support system in college. The Jones kids brought theirs with them.
"Every student has those long eight hour nights where you're doing homework or studying for a test or something goes wrong with school," said Jake, a Yellow Jackets defender who had played in only 6 games this year due to injury at the time of this story.
"You don't really want to call you mom and dad so why don't I just walk across the street and talk to my sisters about it and have that person there for me all the time."
"When you're having a bad day, I think Rachel brought me a stuffed animal one day," Lexi remembered before her sister Hannah continued the thought. "Or we go to Starbucks. It's the little things you have to rely on each other to be supportive throughout the day."
"It's weird because you don't really think about it," Rachel added. "We do a lot for each other. Lexi made me a smoothie for breakfast yesterday and Hanna braids my hair. I don't know what I'm going to do to braid my hair next year."
Hannah is the only one going on to grad school. The other three have started their job searches. For the first time in 22 years, the Jones quads will go their separate ways.
"We've been in the same house all our lives, the same campus all our lives," said Jake. "I think the most challenging part is not going to have those people like I was talking about earlier just to walk over to and talk to no matter what it's about."
"It`s going to be interesting but I'll probably be calling them every day," said Lexi. "But I`m excited to kind of experience being on my own."
"I'm really excited," added Hannah. "It will be a cool experience. It will be brand new for me. I've never gone anywhere without them. I have no doubt in my mind we'll still be talking every day.
"It's going to be a tough transition to not even see them every day," said Rachel. "It's something I've become so accustomed to, but I'm grateful for what we've had."
If their job searches are successful enough, the Jones kids may finally be able to buy their own cars. For their four years at RMC, they have shared a minivan and just about everything else.
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