Pictured: Erica Dewey, left, and twin sister Monica played as teammates for the final time in an All-Star game for seniors in Meriden last week. (Submitted Photo)
By Paul Augeri
Coaches love a competitor, those laser-focused, driven athletes who are hell bent on getting better, have a healthy distaste for defeat and are willing to sacrifice individual gain for team success.
Coaches would say having just one can be a godsend.
Cromwell had two on its softball team. The Dewey twins – Monica, older by two minutes, and Erica.
The just-graduated sisters and team captains stood out this year with their leadership and selflessness.
Erica hurt her shoulder during volleyball season. The injury cost her most of it plus the entire basketball season with the Panthers, specifically the opportunity to play alongside Monica in the backcourt one last time.
“It was really hard not being able to play, especially for those first couple of weeks. It was just difficult,” she said. “I would cry when I got home from practice. It was hard losing my senior season, and on top of it having a twin and knowing that was the last time we had to play together. I was pretty emotional but it got better as time went on.”
What, if any, was the positive outcome in this?
“I built relationships with my teammates than I wouldn’t normally have if I were playing,” Erica said. “I went to every practice. I was named a captain (in 2020) year before the season, and I knew as a captain I was not allowed to just skip out. So I scheduled my physical therapy around practices.”
The injury healed in time for softball season, but knowing her reduced arm strength would not suit her at her shortstop, the position she was earmarked to play this spring, Erica shifted to second base. The move allowed underclassman Madison Tessmer to flourish at short and turn in an All-State season.
Monica played point guard for coach Kelly Maher and was coach Angelo Morello’s catcher again this spring. She started out hitting fifth in the lineup, but as the season went on and her production at the plate did not pick up, Morello had to do something.
“I pulled her out of class and said ‘Monica, I respect you because you’re a senior. I’m the coach and I make the decisions, but I want you in the right frame of mind.’ I said ‘you hit seventh and Malena (Signorello, a sophomore), hits fifth.’
“She said, ‘Do it, Coach. It’s the right move, I’m not hitting.’ Some kids would say ‘I’ll hit out of it.’ The next morning after the Valley Regional (mid-May) game, her mother filmed her hitting on a batting tee in the back yard before school, hitting into a net at 6:45 in the morning.”
Signorello had four hits against Valley. Dewey had a hand in that.
Erica and Monica, who are in each other’s company more often that not, will attend Central Connecticut State this fall and, naturally, share living space. It’s not surprise that they’re as focused on their futures as they were on any given game. Erica will study psychology and intends to pursue a PhD.
“Ultimately I want to be a motivational speaker,” she said.
Monica wants to be an accountant.
“I like knowing there is one specific answer to things,” she said.
The sisters were the only seniors on Cromwell’s 2021 softball team. The Panthers won 13 of 18 regular-season games, reached the Class S tournament quarterfinals – the best-ever showing for Cromwell in the postseason – and produced three All-State performers in Tessmer, pitcher Lily Kenney and outfielder Jamie Anderson.
“The way Monica and Erica came out every day and practiced, they practiced like they played – hard,” said Morello. “They set the example with their will to win and get better. And I told the younger kids, because we had a relatively young team, ‘Watch what they do and how they prepare. They do it right.’ And I think it rubbed off. Every teammate loved them. As a coach I didn’t have to push them. I’m going to miss their leadership more than anything.”
More from my interview with the Deweys …
Middlesex County Sports: What’s it like being each other’s twin?
Erica: I don’t think we’ve left each other’s side for 17 years.
Monica: We were raised in the same house with two competitive older brothers, so we’ve played together, trained together, and when we got older and got more serious about sports we would shoot hoops outside or play ball together. It’s helpful to automatically have that other person to do these things with, and it’s also helped a lot with communication in softball and basketball. We know each other so well that sometimes we don’t even have to speak to know what the other is thinking.
MCS: What was the extent of your shoulder injury?
Erica: I’ve had issues since I was 12 with thoracic outlet syndrome. It affects the nerves in both arms. I have dislocated my shoulder multiple times, but I’ve never had an MRI because it’s always popped back in. In volleyball I dived for a ball and dislocated it, and when I got an MRI it showed a torn labrum that needed surgery.
MCS: What was the experience like not to have Erica on the court for basketball season?
Monica: Obviously before the season there were rumors the season might not even happen. I was stuck in a place where I desperately wanted to play, but I knew what it would do to my sister. But she was amazing on the sidelines, just her attitude. I think she made it easier on people around her (who felt for her not being able to play).
MCS: When you reflect on your time in Cromwell athletics, what will readily come to mind?
Monica: Just knowing I did what I could to lead people and impact them and inspire them. That’s how I went about everything in school academically and in sports. I gave it everything I had and I think that’s what people noticed. I feel like I positively impacted people and gave 100 percent no matter what and I’m proud of that. Something I want to continue to do in my life.
Erica: I would definitely say something similar. The competitive drive, it’s not just the sport, it’s in the offseason, building relationships, getting better as a team, doing whatever it takes to win – it follows you whatever you do in life and wherever you go. Working hard to get something, putting in the time and effort – it’s something I’m always going to have.
MCS: What about a favorite sports moment?
Erica: My favorite sports memory was this year when we played Old Lyme in the Class S tournament and won on a walk-off, because the week before they beat us up 13-1. It’s the best moment I’ve ever had in softball.
Monica: I’d probably say the same thing. Going into that game, you know it could be your last. It’s not something you want to think about going into a game, but it’s in the back of your mind and you can’t stop it. To know at the end of it all, when I stepped back and took a deep breath, that we won and our season was still going, and the way the team rallied behind each other, it felt so amazing. And it was our last home game too, so definitely a good memory to go out with.