THE QUESTION is posed to siblings Tradd and Camille Porter: Who’s the more competitive out of the two?
After a brief silence, Camille smiles and points to her brother, two and a half years her senior. And Tradd agrees.
“I guess I always have to be right, or out do her I guess,” he said.
While Tradd may be a little more gung-ho than his sister, neither of these successful Jefferson siblings shy away from some good-natured ribbing in comparing their respective sports achievements.
Camille, a 16-year-old rising junior, is an eight-time state swimming gold medalist, having won two more state titles last weekend at the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) state meet in Tifton. She also owns all school records for Jefferson High School’s fledgling swimming program (only in its second year of existence) and boasts four school track and field records (one individual, three relay), including the best-ever time in the girls’ 800 meters (2:23.89). Additionally, she’s won two GRPA state track championships (one individual, one relay).
Tradd, an all-state safety in football, is getting set for his senior season on the gridiron, where he has 213 career tackles. The 18-year-old is a three-sport athlete (football, wrestling and track) with a collection of state championship hardware to his credit. He has started on five title-winning teams in high school between football (one) and wrestling (two dual, two traditional). He was even part of two Dizzy Dean state championship baseball teams as a youth.
“The main argument we probably get in is who’s won more state championships,” Camille said.
Chad Cheatham has seen the Porter competitive fire first hand, having coached Tradd a few years ago in middle school football and Camille now in track at the high school.
“It’s very rare for a coach to get to coach a brother and sister but also to watch the rivalry between both of them and the way that they push one another,” he said.
Cheatham said he knew Tradd was a special football player after coaching him as an eighth grader in 2010. He remembers telling Tradd’s father, Brantley, that he had seen better athletes on the football field than Porter, but very few who played the game as he did.
“This kid is one of the best football players that I have ever coached in my life,” Cheatham said. “His instincts, you can’t compare them to anything. And it’s turned out to be true.”
Cheatham is now seeing the same intangibles with Camille in track.
“Then his sister comes along. Not only is she tough as Tradd, but she’s smart. Tradd is smart. But she’s got the brains. She can break a race down. ‘I need to run this split. I need to run this 200 (meters) in this. What does my start need to be?’ She’ll get that in her mind.’”
Cheatham knows a thing or two about brother-sister rivalries in Jefferson. He’s married to Katherine (Keen) Cheatham, who enjoyed a healthy sibling rivalry years ago with her brother, Chris Keen. Both Keens went on to earn track and field scholarships with major college programs (Chris at Florida State; Katherine at Georgia). But the Keen siblings were several years apart in age.
“Tradd and Camille are seeing each other on a daily basis training and competing and all of those things,” Cheatham said. “They’re both amazing.”
He said he “could only imagine” what the competition sounds like at the Porter home.
“Because that’s the thing,” Cheatham said. “Both of them are tremendous, tremendous competitors.”
According to Camille, she and her brother used to fight “all the time” when they were younger. But their involvement in athletics brought on a ceasefire of sorts, especially as they entered their teenage years. Both play sports year-round.
“We’re more busy — we don’t have to see each other as much,” Camille said.
While they still rag each other about who possesses the superior athletic résumé, both respect each other’s achievements.
Tradd is most impressed by his sister’s accomplishments in the pool, where she is a GRPA state record holder in the 100-yard individual medley and a former state record holder in the 100-yard freestyle.
“I don’t get into swimming much, but she won like what, three state championships this past week,” Tradd said (with Camille reminding him that it was actually two).
While Camille is proud of her brother’s achievements on the football field — he was the Region 8-AA Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 — she points to what he’s accomplished on the wrestling mat, too.
“Because he does have a really hard weight class,” she said.
Where the sibling rivalry gets particularly interesting is on the track. Both run the 800 meters, as did their father in the 1980s.
“We’ll kind of talk smack over who places higher in the 800 in whatever race we go to,” Tradd said.
Tradd points out that he has the fastest 800 meter time in the family (2:00.23), better than even his father.
To which Camille responded: “I do have the (girls’) school record.”
Banter aside, Tradd said the family connection in the 800 meters “is pretty cool.”
“Like at the county meets, when they announce the awards for the 800 (meters), it’s Camille Porter and for the boys it’s Tradd Porter,” said Tradd, who finished fifth in the state in the 800 meters in 2013 and sixth this past year.
Camille had similar feelings.
“It is cool, especially in track since we both do it, and we do the same events,” said Camille, who placed fourth at state in the 800 meters this year. “And people, I guess know, because dad did the 800 (meters), too.”
This is the final year the Porters will be at Jefferson High School together, which Camille said will be sad.
Tradd hopes to land a football scholarship and has been communicating with a few schools through email. Camille aims to use her next two years to earn a swimming scholarship.
But Tradd said he’ll be around next year, especially at the major track events to support Camille — or perhaps remind her of his 800 meter accomplishments.
Cheatham, who has four children of his own, reserves special praise for the Porter siblings.
“I’d like for my kids to have a part of that heart, effort and love that they have,” he said. “Because I think it’s special. I think they are great students, great kids, they love their family and they’re going to be a tremendous success in whatever they do.”
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