DeKALB – To this day, Elizabeth Becker is thankful that Grant and Ross James let her hang out with them in high school.
The full-time Northern Illinois University student described the James twins, who will compete for Olympic gold in the eight-man rowing final today in London, as being her unofficial older brothers during their days at DeKalb High School. Becker said she remembered constantly laughing when she rode with the twins to French club events.
“I remember driving to a French restaurant that we went to ... for a little event, and I remember having the best time with them in the car,” Becker said. “And coming home [thinking], ‘They’re so awesome.’ ”
Becker was a freshman when she first met the James twins – they were seniors at the time, she said – in orchestra. The twins were first and second chairs in viola.
“There was a lot of banter that went on back and forth,” Becker said. “I was like the little freshman pest, so to say. I used to hang around them and give them a hard time. We ended up being good friends.”
Becker described the James twins as being down-to-earth, very funny and “genuinely nice guys.”
Becker said she plans to watch the twins compete for the gold in the eight-man rowing finals today when NBC broadcasts the highlights at 3:45 p.m.
Their French teacher, Nataliya Zimmerman at DeKalb High School, also fondly remembers the humor and energy they brought to two years of French classes.
For the homecoming parade one year, the James twins helped build a guillotine for the French club’s float.
“They were key people there,” Zimmerman said. “They were a team.”
Cliff Golden, troop leader of DeKalb Scout Troop 33 and library assistant at Northern Illinois University, said he remembers the James twins whenever the local troops came together for a large Scouting event.
“They stood out as being really outstanding kids,” Golden said.
When the James twins went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and both made the rowing team in 2005, Becker said she followed their career.
Both Becker and Zimmerman said they were ecstatic when they heard the James twins made the Olympic team.
“I’m just praying that they win because they deserve it,” Zimmerman said.
On TV today
The finals for men’s rowing are scheduled to start at 4:30 a.m. NBC Chicago and NBC Rockford will air the highlights of the race from 3:45 to 4 p.m. today.