Twin sisters, both high jumpers and competing on the same team, but also having a bit of school rivalry. Barnard College, the women’s undergraduate school of Columbia University, and Columbia College, the university’s coed undergraduate school, compete together under the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium. This allows Anna Jordahl-Henry, a Barnard senior, and twin sister Julia, a Columbia senior, to root for each other while having a bit of competition.
“We always had this plan to go to college together, but at the same time, had very different boxes that we wanted a school to check off,” said Anna. “I wanted somewhat of a smaller, more intimate school, and Julia wanted a big college, but not too big. She really loved Columbia. When I came to visit, I liked the track coach, but I wasn’t in love with Columbia. It felt very big and kind of overwhelming. Then my coach said, ‘Let’s go check out Barnard,’ and I loved the atmosphere.”
Anna said it has given she and Julia a chance to be apart, but also together. Barnard is literally across Broadway from the Columbia campus. While each does her own thing, they’ve also been able to support each other as student-athletes.
“A lot of people ask, ‘How do you compete against each other?’ I think it really pushes both of us…,” said Anna. “We’re both trying to reach the school record. Having each other there motivates us to push each other to higher heights.”
Their father was a track athlete at Harvard, as well as doing the jumping events—high jump, long jump, and triple jump. His nickname was “Shoes” because he needed different shoes for every event. At an early age, he put the girls into a track and field program.
Their athletic prowess was obvious from the start. Julia picked up high jump first and Anna soon after. In high school, Anna was predominantly a sprinter, and still holds the 200-meter outdoor record for Massachusetts.
Barnard is the only women’s college that gives student-athletes the opportunity to compete at the Division I level. There is a relatively small number of student-athletes at Barnard, but that enables them to be a close-knit group.
“It’s definitely a community,” she said of Columbia’s track and field team. “If I didn’t have such a great relationship with my teammates and the Barnard women, it would be a lot harder to push through all the time and energy I put into track and field.”