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Sweet split: Sugar Bowl divides twins between Hawaii, Georgia

POSTED: January 11, 2008 5:04 a.m.

You’ve seen those car tags that say "house divided."

People bolt them on and hit the highway to indicate that part of the household pulls for Georgia and part pulls for Georgia Tech. Or Auburn. Or Bama. Or whomever.

But they don’t make one that’s half University of Georgia and half University of Hawaii, yet.

If they did, one Forsyth County family likely would be rushing out to get it.

For the Clarks — father Rush, mother Penny, eldest son Rush, middle son Trevor, and twins Tiffany and Christian — the New Year’s night Sugar Bowl puts a new spin on sibling rivalry as No. 4 Georgia takes on No. 10 Hawaii.

The 20-year-old Clark twins attend the competing universities: Tiffany Clark is in her third year at UGA, and Christian Clark is in his third year at Hawaii. The Clarks never dreamed that the twins’ universities would meet on the football field, much less in a bowl game.

Sunday, the twins, their parents and some friends headed down to New Orleans to watch the game at the Superdome, but they won’t all get to sit together. They have seats on separate sides; some in the Hawaii fan section, some in the Georgia fan section.

"We’re not sitting together," said 59-year-old Rush Clark, the twins’ father. "We’ll make up later."

Dad, for the record, is rooting for the Warriors.

"If Hawaii doesn’t win, then at least they’ll have some credibility in this football-crazy part of the world," he said. "I’m actually looking forward to the game. I have no idea what’s going to happen. These Hawaii guys are for real."

And so is the rivalry around the Clarks’ Lake Lanier home in North Forsyth.

"It’s all in fun though," said mom Penny Clark, also 59.

She is a Georgia grad. So is son Trevor, 24, class of 2005. Who they’re pulling for is a given — the Dogs, naturally.

Even the family’s 9-year-old Shih Tzu, Muffin, is partial to her canine cohorts. The dog bounces around the house in a bright red Bulldogs jersey.

Yet Christian remains undaunted in a family full of Dogs.

"Your bulldog is a Shih Tzu," he said.

In fact, Tiffany, a sociology major at UGA, said her twin brother "does more of the ganging up than we do."

Still, not counting Muffin, the Clark household is truly a house divided, split down the middle 3-3. Son Rush, 28, a 2003 Vanderbilt graduate, has sided with his brother and father in rooting for the Pacific Islanders.

Although Rush and Trevor have chosen their teams, they returned Sunday to their homes in Reno, Nev., and Lake Tahoe, Calif., rather than traveling to the Sugar Bowl.

While all four Clark children are North Forsyth High School alums, for Tiffany and Christian, the decision on where to attend college was as different as they are.

"I wanted to go to a school with lots of school spirit and ... a good football team," Tiffany said.

It didn’t hurt, her parents added, that UGA is academically strong and Tiffany is a HOPE scholar.

"I wanted to go a long way away," said Christian, who is majoring in oceanography at Hawaii.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any home ties so far from Forsyth County. The children’s grandparents live in Hawaii, too.

"It helps Christian to have some family there," his dad said.

It also helps that traversing great distances is nothing new to the Clarks.

Though Penny Clark is a Forsyth County native, husband Rush Clark is a native of San Francisco. He grew up near Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia, which he still considers home. He returned to the United States to attend college at the University of Rhode Island.

He recently retired after 37 years with Amoco Oil Co., a career that took the family from the U.S. to Brazil to Montreal.

Though Penny returned stateside to give birth to the twins, they spent their early childhood in Montreal, where some Canadians, she said, were at first skeptical of Tiffany and Christian’s relationship.

"It’s hard to get people to believe they’re twins," she said.

The twins were actually born 11 minutes apart in the late night hours of July 27 and 28.

By their own admission, they grew apart until about the time they turned 17. But they are close now, despite a continent and an ocean that separates Athens from Honolulu.

Though Christian jokingly says, "I’m worried about our fans getting in a fight with your fans," no football game could keep the Clark house divided for long.

"It’s beyond all the rivalry," said dad Rush. "It’s bringing the family together rather than tearing the family apart.

"Anything that provides that spark is a good thing. That’s what it’s really all about for me."



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