Daughter follows mother into track

Vickie and Emily Paupore have family ties to Niagara, Kingsford

NEGAUNEE — Like mother, like daughter is a well-known cliché, but for the Paupore family, it’s a perfect description of their track and field careers.

Mother and Negaunee head girls coach Vickie Paupore was a star three-sport athlete both at Niagara (Wis.) High School and at Lawrence University, and her passion for track was then passed on to her daughter Emily.

However, unlike other mother-daughter athletic relationships, both went in different directions when it came to the track. While Vickie focused on jumping events, Emily is entirely locked in toward long-distance running.

Vickie credits her husband, Mark, a Kingsford High School graduate, for creating Emily’s love for long races as he was a distance runner who ran marathons. That, combined with watching her mom coach. is probably what caused Emily’s love for running to come to the surface.

“I have to credit him with her love of distance running because when she was a child, he’d push her in the stroller when he was training for marathons,” Vickie said. “Another thing that I think what really sparked her interest in running is that as a family, we did a five-mile run in Milwaukee every year. I remember pushing her in the stroller as a little girl and she would want to get out and run with us. It was really cute because at the age of five or six, she wanted to run the whole race. We have a picture that I love where she’s running next to me and I look like I’m in pain and she’s looks like she’s having a blast. By the time, she was eight, she was able to keep up with my husband and me for the whole race and by the time she was 10, she was running faster than my husband.”

Emily’s cousin, Kingsford grad Meagan McConnell, was another influence. She ran cross country at Mankato (now Minnesota State).

“She grew up going to some of her races as well,” Vickie said. “A lot of her cousins were cross country runners and of course watching me coach over the years, I would bring her to practices and she would tag along to meets. Being exposed all those runners definitely inspired her to run.”

Those things may have developed her love for distance running, but Emily said she didn’t fully embrace the 800-meter, 1,600 and 3,200 runs until this past season.

“Honestly, this year, I just kind of fell in love with it,” she said. “I love going on distance runs and I love being with people who have the same love for the sport that I do. Going on group runs, there’s nothing else like it. It’s my favorite thing to do. There’s something about it that I can’t get enough of.”

Emily’s enthusiasm for running is definitely clear to Vickie who says Emily has had a competitive spirit for years and that it can be hard to keep her from pushing herself too hard.

“Emily’s always been a driven child,” Vickie said. “As her coach, I never have to tell her to go do a run. She’s super self-motivated. The biggest job for me is to make sure she doesn’t do too much training. The only time we argue is when I tell her that her runs should be shorter.”

“I’m always ready to go,” Emily added. “I love racing and I love to see how far I can push myself. I just love to go out there and see what I can do and see how I compete with others. I’m a very competitive person. Racing for me is just fun.”

While running is Emily’s passion, Vickie veered toward the jumping sports growing up, primarily due to her size, but said that coaching her daughter has helped her understand what to expect from her distance runners.

“When I was in high school, I was on the taller side,” Vickie said. “I was already a high jumper and triple jumper and partway through my freshman year, my coach (Anne Pucci) suggested I try the hurdles. I just fell in love with them. I remember the first time I’d ever run them in practice, my mom (Deborah Jenkins) came and I wanted her to see me run the hurdles because I loved them. I fell and scraped up my knees and I was so afraid that my mom wasn’t going to let them do them anymore, but she did.”

Coach Paupore says she does a “little distance running, but I find that I go out a little too hard in my pacing.”

“Coaching Emily has actually made me learn more about pacing, so it’s been a really good thing for me to learn different events,” she said. “I’ve always liked high jumping and long jumping and hurdling and triple jumping. I think it was just easier for me because of my height. Emily is a little smaller, so her distance running is perfect for her build and body type.”

When asked if she’d ever considered doing the same events as her mom, Emily put that idea to rest pretty quickly.

“I tried the other events like high jumping, but I’m just not that good at it,” she said with a laugh. “So, I just stuck to distance running. I think the longer it is for me, the more successful I am.”

Successful is putting it mildly as Emily now owns three individual school records (800, 1,600 and 3,200 runs) along with being on the record-holding 4X800 relay team. If that wasn’t enough, she also set a new Division 1 U.P. Finals record in the 3,200 run a few weeks ago. That keeps the tradition alive as Vickie says she still holds two school records at her school in the high jump and triple jump.

“I still have two high school records from the 1980s, which is hilarious,” Vickie said. “It’s funny you think about all those years ago, it just seems like forever. I’m surprised that that they’re still standing to be honest.”

One thing that isn’t surprising though is the support the two of them give to each other. Vickie said that she was so pleased with what Emily accomplished this season as well as the effort she put into it.

“I’m so proud of her because she put so much work in the offseason,” Vickie said. “During the winter, she had to do a lot of treadmill running. She continued to run five or six days a week, even during basketball season. It was really a tough winter for her to do all that training and then she tried to get some weight training too. So, I was really proud of her success because she definitely deserved it. Breaking records and earning accolades makes you proud, but I was prouder of the motivation she put in and all her hard work.”

“I love long runs and usually on Saturdays, my parents will bike beside me sometimes for support,” Emily said. “We’ll go on a run together to start off Saturday and then we’ll eat breakfast as a family. Their support through it all means so much to me.”

They may have chosen different paths on the track, but their passion for the sport is evident each time they step out on it.

Like mother, like daughter.

Ryan Stieg is with The Mining Journal of Marquette