NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Friday, August 8, 2008
By Bethany Bradsher
Siblings set high bar for
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Chris Kupets will enjoy viewing the Olympics on
television, first from his family home in Athens, GA, and later from his new
collegiate home at East Carolina.
But don’t fault Kupets too much if you happen to
be watching an event with him and he says something starting with the words,
“When I was in Athens…”
When your last Summer Olympic experience was
live attendance capped by watching your sister win two medals, comparisons
This summer Kupets is preparing for his biggest
athletic challenge to date – living up to the expectations the Pirate
coaching squad put on him when they recruited him as the new backup point
In 2004, Kupets' sister Courtney stood on her
own biggest threshold, after an injury that could have ended her gymnastics
dreams. In the end, she made her mark on the world’s biggest stage.
Less than a year after tearing her Achilles
tendon, Courtney Kupets was the top qualifier at the U.S. Olympic Trials. A
two-time national champion (in 2003 and 2004), Kupets competed in the
all-around team competition and the individual bars and floor events.
Competing with a hip injury that was later
discovered to be a stress fracture, she still took a silver medal in the
team event and an individual bronze in the bars.
“The first day we got to see my sister in the
opening ceremonies,” Kupets said. “It was crazy. It was just amazing. We
were actually there watching the Olympics and she was in it.”
Even though Chris, his parents, his older sister
Ashley and his older brother Mark celebrated when Courtney qualified for the
Games, they didn’t think that finances would allow the whole family to make
the trip from their Athens to the Greek Athens. But their community and
Courtney’s gym rallied to raise money for their trip, increasing Courtney’s
cheering section and creating a memorable family vacation.
A quick YouTube search even yields an Olympic
“fluff piece” of a 14-year-old
Chris and his family shopping,
eating at Greek sidewalk cafes and shouting during Courtney’s competitions.
The piece talks about how Courtney’s coaches kept her isolated from the
outside, so they had little contact with her until all of her events were
As inspirational as Courtney’s gymnastics career
has been so far (she is heading into her senior season on the University of
Georgia team), her accomplishments would only fill a portion of the family
Mark ran track for Penn and is now enrolled at
Georgetown Law School, and Ashley just ended her career at Georgia with five
“All of my brothers and sisters inspire me,”
Chris Kupets said.
Kupets is taking a breather at home after
spending the summer in Greenville with the basketball team. He took two
summer classes and dove into the team’s strength and conditioning program.
It was a structured summer that, along with his
year of prep school at The Patterson School in Lenoir, helped prepare him
for the more intense demands ahead.
“I feel like I got more mature, stronger, more
ready to play,” said Kupets, who is expected to play behind sophomore Brock
Young at the point.
Kupets was ready to
sign with Houston when ECU assistant Darryl LeBarrie convinced him to
visit the campus. He came away from that visit impressed with the team’s
vision for the future and convinced that he could contend for playing
time from the word go.
And the icing on the
cake, he said, was learning about the talent level of the remaining
this year’s recruiting class. The
acquisition of Chris Turner and Darrius Morrow showed that the Pirate
coaches are serious about elevating the program and bringing in the
personnel who can make wins happen.
“The campus was awesome
and I liked everyone,” Turner said. “I think we have a chance to win.”
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08/08/2008 02:22:24 AM