Crimson and Blue runs through the Coppinger sisters’ blood — at least according to Addie Coppinger.
As Addie sprinted with ease to a first-place finish in the high school girls’ 800-meter race at the KU Relays on Friday at Rock Chalk Park, her elder sister, Courtney, watched with pride from above in the coaches’ box.
“I think it’s awesome,” Courtney said. “Seeing her look so relaxed and so at ease was super exciting.”
Addie is set to graduate from St. Teresa’s Academy next month before beginning her career as a runner for the Jayhawks, while Courtney graduated from KU last May following a five-year career with KU track and field.
“I’m so, so excited. I love running here,” Addie said following her victory. “My sister ran here, and I kind of have a feel about the whole team aspect through her. I’m just so excited because I love all of the girls in the team and coach, so I’m so excited.”
To say Courtney had a successful career at KU would be an understatement. The elder Coppinger left Kansas with two school records — the outdoor steeplechase and indoor distance medley relay — and a seventh place finish at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 3,000-meter steeplechase to earn first-team All-America honors.
Addie, meanwhile finished second in the 800 meters and fourth as part of the St. Teresa’s 1,600-meter relay team at the 2018 Kansas Class 5A state meet.
So when Courtney first tipped off Kansas middle-distance coach Michael Whittlesey, it didn’t take long for the seed Courtney had planted in his brain to start sprouting.
“Did you see what your sister ran,” Whittlesey would begin asking Courtney during Addie’s junior year of high school. That was when Courtney began tipping off her younger sister that Whittlesey and other Kansas coaches were watching.
“(Courtney) would always talk about how the coach was watching me,” Addie said. “It kind of freaked me out.”
But the offer to run track at KU ultimately came near the end of Addie’s junior year, and it didn’t take long for her to accept.
“When I visited, it felt like it was the place,” she said. “Maybe it was (Courtney) coming here before, maybe it’s just in our blood.”
Although it would have been nice to be on the KU track team together, Courtney is pleased that Addie is “not in her shadow” and can follow her own path. Courtney looks forward to the warm reception Addie will receive at KU from both the athletes and coaches.
“I’ve told her that through my five years here that I really created a family and I really created an environment that I can come back,” Courtney said. “Right now, with all the alumni it’s great, and everyone supports each other. I know she’s going to be set up for that exact same support that I got.”