The Kay-Ramos triplets — Kamal, Awwal and Hayaat — are fraternal, not identical, and their personalities are distinct.
“They are as different as morning, afternoon and evening,” said their mother, Zeinab Ramos. “But they are all blessings.”
Gulliver boys’ water polo coach Carroll Vaughan agrees, especially since the triplets represent nearly half her starting lineup on a Raiders team that is the reigning state champion.
The triplets, who turned 17 last month, are juniors.
Hayaat, the oldest, scored 23 goals last season. He wants to study business. Personality-wise, he is more serious than his brothers.
“He is the brightest of the three,” Vaughan said. “He is taking his SAT again because he wants a perfect score, and he missed only one question last time.”
Awwal, the second born, scored 22 goals last season. He wants to study medicine.
“He’s the one most people are drawn to because he is so friendly and compassionate,” Ramos said.
Kamal, the youngest, has been Gulliver’s goalie since his eighth-grade year. He wants to be an engineer.
“As a baby, he was like glued to me,” Ramos said. “He was the smallest back then, so I paid the most attention to him.”
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These days, Kamal has the attention of college coaches, including UCLA and Princeton.
Vaughan said Kamal – who is now bigger than his brothers – is the best water polo prospect among the triplets.
“He has strong legs,” Vaughan said, “and a good work ethic.”
Vaughan said Awwal is the most natural athlete among the Kay-Ramos boys.
“He’s finally working hard and catching up to that natural ability,” Vaughan said. “He’s figuring it out.”
It’s possible the triplets go their separate ways for college, although they say their bond won’t be broken.
“We’ve never been apart,” Kamal said. “My brothers are the closest people in the world to me. I don’t know what life would be without them. We love each other.
“Even if we go to different colleges, we will eventually meet up at the same place again.”
Gulliver, which went 30-1 last season, is more than just the Kay-Ramos triplets. The team’s top player is Bruno Rebessi, who had 109 goals last season. JC Pompa, who had 102 goals last season, had wrist surgery recently but is expected back in a couple of weeks.
This is a young team. Gulliver’s top six players are all juniors – Rebessi, Pompa, the triplets and Jeronimo Dacharry (15 goals).
Kamal, Rebessi and Pompa all made first-team All-Dade last season.
“This group has played together since middle school,” Vaughan said.
Still, the triplets seem to be the compelling story on the team.
Their parents, Zeinab and Olukayode Ramos, were born in Lagos, Nigeria, and they married there in 1990. The triplets, who were born in Miami on Feb. 20, 2003, tried virtually every sport until discovering and subsequently falling in love with water polo in the seventh grade.
Zeinab said her family’s Muslim faith and African culture play an important role in the lives of the triplets. Since age 10, the boys have taken part in the Muslim tradition of Ramadan, an annual month-long observance of prayer, reflection and fasting.
Another annual tradition for the triplets is spending the entire summer in Nigeria, where Zeinab’s parents and other family members live.
“That’s where our history and culture are from,” said Kamal, who makes that 13-hour Miami-London-Lagos trek with his parents and brothers. “We wouldn’t be who we are without our family members in Nigeria.”
Last summer, Kamal and his brothers started a free water polo camp for boys and girls in Nigeria. Vaughan donated balls and caps, and the boys did some fundraising to help with other costs.
About 40 kids showed up for the camp, which took place every day for nearly three weeks. Only about 10 of the kids knew how to swim when the camp began, but a lot of progress was made.
“Water polo is not a big sport in Nigeria,” Kamal said. “But the kids and parents were very pleased with the camp. They sent us emails telling us they were happy.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Ransom Everglades’ girls’ water polo team, which won the state title in 2019 under coach Eric Lefebvre, will try to repeat this season. The team’s senior class includes Olivia Byrd, Karin Belausteguigoitia, Emanuelle Dooreck-Aloni, Preston Edmunds, Meredith Hutchinson, Claire Medici, Sarah Mesa and Claudia Pinilla.
▪ Gulliver’s girls’ team is led by junior Alissa Pascual and her sister, freshman Giorgia Pascual. Their mother and grandfather played for Brazil’s national water polo team.