If you are a member of either community, it is likely you are familiar with the rivalry that has existed between Lafayette and Lehigh for as long as anyone can remember. Junior Portia McKoy certainly is.
McKoy and her sister, Teasha, have become quite familiar with the rivalry dynamic, with Portia playing for Lafayette and Teasha for Lehigh. Both women are accomplished track and field athletes, and were recently featured on ESPN during last weekend’s Patriot League Championships.
“They actually did a feature on us on ESPN, which my sister and I had no clue was happening,” Portia said. “We just saw ourselves on TV.”
The Philadelphia, Penn. natives first made their marks at Germantown Friends School. Portia holds 12 school records, qualified for the 2018 Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association (PTFCA) indoor state championship in the triple jump and won the PA Independent School Athletic Association (PAISAA) 100-meter dash. Teasha was a record-holding Friends League Champion in 2015 in the shot put and discus, and in the discus and 100-meter hurdles in 2016, and also lettered in soccer.
“It’s nice to still be able to see her at competitions,” Portia said. “We’ve been on the same team and we’ve also competed against each other since we were five or six years old.”
When it came time for applying to college, the sisters had slightly different values and interests but were happy with the idea of going to schools in close proximity to each other.
“Even though we didn’t really want to go to the same school, we still wanted to be somewhat close to each other, and the story just worked out perfectly, going to schools 20 minutes apart and being rivals is pretty cool,” Portia said.
“There are some family members that really want to go to the same school, but I guess it just didn’t work out that way for us,” Portia added. “Lafayette was the perfect fit for me and Lehigh was the perfect fit for her.”
Both sisters were interested in continuing her athletic careers at liberal arts colleges while still focusing on academics, making Lafayette and Lehigh great matches for their intended paths.
“I knew early on that I wanted to continue to compete in college and I was mainly looking for division one schools,” Portia said. “Most division one schools aren’t really too small, so Lafayette was just all-around at everything that I was looking for as far as having competitive academics and also competitive athletics.”
Once in college, their interests and passions diverged a little further in terms of track and in academics.
“Teasha used to sprint, but not anymore, so that was the only time that we used to compete directly,” Portia said. “She throws now primarily and I do the sprints.”
Taesha is an arts and science major while Portia is a psychology major and anthropology and sociology minor, on a physical therapy track.
“I’m hoping to go to graduate school to get a DPT [Doctor of Physical Therapy] after I graduate from Lafayette,” Portia said. “I was basically able to pick any undergrad major, and I just had to fulfill the prerequisites for certain DPT programs.”
Teasha has made impressive strides in her athletic career in college so far over at Lehigh. In 2019, she earned second team All-Patriot League honors, hit multiple personal records in the discus and shot put events and was named to the conference Academic Honor Roll. In the 2020 indoor season, Teasha placed eighth at the conference championships in the weight throw, a new personal record, and also had a personal best at the Lafayette-Lehigh dual meet in the shot put, finishing first overall.
Portia is not on campus this semester, but she won the 60-meter hurdles at the Lafayette-Lehigh indoor dual meet in a 2020 spring season cut short due to COVID-19. As she noted, things are still not quite back to normal.
“I’ve heard from a lot of my teammates who have competed that while this season wasn’t like a regular season, it was still nice because most other schools didn’t have the opportunity to compete during this time,” she said. “I’ve also heard that COVID restrictions and stuff have definitely hampered down on how the season was built.”
Portia has a laundry list of school involvement at Lafayette, including being a peer mentor, member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Athletes of Color, Athlete Ally, and part of the Oaks Leadership Academy.
“I actually got really involved at the end of last year and beginning of this year, and I think getting more involved in organizations across the campus has definitely helped me connect with other people,” Portia said. “It’s made me feel like I was making an impact and having a purpose on campus.”
Portia has also played a role in the athletics department’s ongoing racial justice initiatives, which were updated last week.
“I’ve been pretty involved on the sports side, so I’ve been on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee with the athletic department which is really cool,” she said. “I’ve also been involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which has definitely helped me mentally and spiritually while being home.”
Portia says that although she has maintained her academic involvement from home, she misses spending time with her team this semester.
“I’d say my favorite part about being on the team is the team environment,” she said. “It is welcoming and comforting, and especially during these times that’s something that I really miss, just being able to have a community that you can go to and talk about anything.”
Fortunately, Portia has Teasha around this semester for that.