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Coppes Vaults Her Way to Shoreline, State Titles
Senior captain Cate Coppes overcame a back injury to take first place in the pole vault at both Shorelines and states for Old Saybrook during the indoor track season. (Photo courtesy of Cate Coppes )
Cate Coppes displayed her grit and competitive nature for the Old Saybrook girls’ indoor track team throughout the 2019-’20 season. A senior captain who competed in the hurdles and the pole vault, Cate finished her campaign as a conference and state champion, despite dealing with a back injury for most of the year. Next year, Cate will attend the College of Charleston in South Carolina to do the pole vault.
Cate was the runner-up in the pole vault at the Shoreline Conference Indoor Championship in each of the last two seasons before winning the event at the meet this year. She also took first place for the pole vault at the Class S State Championship during the indoor season as a junior and then won the event again at states this winter.
In the 2019 outdoor season, Cate finished first in the 100-meter hurdles and took second place in the pole vault at the Class S State Championship. Cate went on to compete in the pole vault at the New England Championship, where she came in fifth place to earn a spot on the All-New England Team.
Cate has also garnered Scholar Athlete recognition multiple times throughout her tenure at Old Saybrook High School. Track coach Pete Capezzone was impressed with how Cate persevered through her injury to have an outstanding senior indoor season.
“I think that’s what makes her season this year so special. Cate had an injury earlier on in the year, and she missed almost a month of the season, yet still managed to pole vault her way to a state championship,” Capezzone says. “That’s indicative of the kind of athlete she is. She’s willing to give her all, even when dealing with pain.”
Cate was originally a gymnast while growing up. She feels that having the skills she learned in gymnastics proved a huge help when it came to grasping the technique of the pole vault. After doing the pole vault for the past few years at Old Saybrook, she has come to love the event.
“My favorite aspect of the sport is that I get to fly and lift in the air. It really feels like you’re floating or flying when you let go of that pole,” Cate says. “For me, improving my game is not only improving physically and becoming stronger, but also mentally. The mental game of pole vault is getting through that block, so you can just go in freely.”
Cate had to overcome both the physical and mental challenges in order to defend her state title in the pole vault this year. Cate cleared a height of 10 feet-6 inches on her way to claiming first place in the event at the Class S Indoor State Championship for the second-straight campaign.
“My favorite moment from this indoor season was coming back from my injury, which made me miss most of my season,” says Cate, who also plays soccer at Old Saybrook and swims on a league team in the summer. “It made me feel really good that I was able to come back and win states, even if it wasn’t my best vault. It felt really good.”
Cate’s victory in the pole vault helped the Rams finish second in Class S on the heels of their fourth-straight first-place finish at the Shoreline Conference Championship. Cate also won the pole vault at Shorelines by clearing 10-6.
Coach Capezzone says that Cate’s determination and demeanor played a big part in another historic season for Old Saybrook.
“She’s very giving. She gives it all to the team, whatever she needs to do,” says Capezzone. “Cate helped us to be a great team. She always puts everyone else before her, and she keeps things fun for the other athletes. Everyone enjoys being around her.”
Cate credits Coach Capezzone for helping her make great strides during her high school career. Cate is eager to strive for new heights when she continues with the pole vault at the collegiate level.
“I have a strong relationship with my head coach. Without him, I definitely wouldn’t have come this far,” Cate says. “Next year, I’m attending the College of Charleston, and I’m hoping to get at least 12 feet.”