It was just time.
The McKoy twins had worn the same clothes, played the same sports, and gone to the same school for long enough, and it was finally time for their paths to diverge. Well, sort of.
The talented, intelligent and thoughtful seniors from the Germantown Friends School will both be collegiate athletes in track and field, and in an interesting twist of fate, they will also be competitors at rival schools.
Teasha McKoy, a standout in shot put and discuss, will join Lehigh, while her “younger” sister Portia McKoy, a sprinter, long and triple jumper, will be about 18 miles away at Lafayette.
In mid-May, the pair helped the Tigers finish second in the Friends League championship to Friends’ Central. Each also won individual championships during the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association finals (PAISAA).
“We’ve pretty much done everything together our whole lives,” says Teasha, who takes pleasure in being the oldest — by one minute.
Later, she added: “We’ll still be close, but also it’s time for us to separate and go our own ways.”
For all of their differences, however, the McKoy twins are bonded by excellence on the track, leadership in the classroom, and empathetic spirits that are set on helping the less fortunate.
But, make no mistake, their personalities differ greatly.
Teasha is more assertive, more boisterous, and more likely to patrol portions in kitchen.
“We call her the food police,” Portia quips quickly.
“This morning, she just took, like, five cookies,” Teasha explains.
With equal parts laughter and exasperation, she continues.
“And the juice. She’s always drinking the drinks,” she laughs, walks a few steps away and returns. “Ugh. I can’t even get into this. She just hogs everything.”
Portia, is quieter, perhaps calmer, but definitely no pushover.
She calls Teasha a “hoarder.”
Teasha’s rebuttal: “That’s just because I think a lot of [my stuff] might be important someday.”
“That’s what hoarders say,” Portia shoots back.
As the banter continues, the African pendants worn by both shimmer in the sunlight. Teasha’s is for “beauty.” Portia’s is for “life.”
Their trip to South Africa in January illuminates the empathetic nature of both.
The trip was part of the school’s global studies offerings and a partnership with the African Leadership Academy, a boarding school in Johannesburg that seeks to transform Africa by combing the continent “for youth who show the spark of initiative; who see what can be and strive to make it so.”
It was “eye-opening” for Teasha, whose stated goal is to pursue architecture at Lehigh. Upon graduation, she hopes to use her “education and skills to help others.”
Portia, who wants to combine sports and medicine, already had an inkling of a career path from a project during her junior year, when she shadowed physical therapists at the Widener Memorial School for students with various physical, medical, and intelletual disabilities.
The students in South Africa, with whom they are still in contact, were also “inspiring for us to want to do something in our community,” Portia said.
The McKoy twins aren’t far behind in that department.
Both are actively engaged in an affinity club named “SISTAHS” for young girls of color at their school. Both have also been tutors for fellow students. Teasha continues as a tutor, mostly in math.
On the track this season, Portia won the 100 meters at the PAISAA championships, where she also took third in the triple jump. Teasha, still returning to form from a knee injury last season, finished second in the discuss and fifth in the shot put. She previously set the school record in discuss this season.
Seeing each other in different uniforms next year might not be as odd as you may expect. The twins joke that they broke their mother, Yvette, of the habit of dressing them in matching clothes around third grade.
Sisterly love, though, will still conquer all. Well, almost all.
“I’ll be cheering for her,” Portia said. “I don’t know if she’ll be cheering for me.”
“I’ll be cheering for her, too,” Teasha says somewhat reluctantly, playing along.
She also slips in, “I already know my team’s gonna win, but it’s ok.”
They joke, but Teasha is also very protective of her sister and of others in a “motherly” sort of way, both said.
Yvette, a single mother, is as proud as possible. She also has a son, Barry, who is 24 years old and recently earned a master’s degree while studying in England, Teasha said.
“I think they’re amazing,” Yvette said. “They’ve done so much more than me. You want your kids to be better than you, and I feel like my girls are definitely on their way to having more than I have attained in my lifetime, so I’m really, really proud of them.”