Janesville family is born to run
That’s the mantra for three generations of the Sippy family.
Steve Sippy, the patriarch of the family, won the prestigious Midwest Invitational high school cross country meet at Riverside Park in Janesville in 1958. He finished sixth for Milwaukee Pulaski in the mile at the state track and field meet in 1959 and put together a hall of fame career at Carroll College.
Steve’s son, Kevin, was a cross country and track standout at Janesville Craig High School. Between the two sports, Kevin ran at the state meet five times—capped off by a fourth-place finish in the mile in 1986. He also ran on the 1985 Craig cross country team that finished fourth at state—which is still the highest finish ever for a Cougar boys team. Kevin also went on to an illustrious collegiate career at Carroll, and with his induction to the school’s hall of fame in 2002, the Sippys became the only father/son members of the Carroll Hall of Fame.
When Steve’s grandson, Matt Bordwell, competed on Craig’s 3,200-meter relay team at this year’s WIAA state track and field meet, he became the third generation of the Sippy family to run at state.
Matt’s mother, Kaaren (Sippy) Bordwell, was a three-time state cross country qualifier for Craig from 1981-1983. Kaaren also competed at Carroll and is one of three Sippy siblings to compete at state.
“I don’t think there was anything in the water or anything like that when the kids were growing up,” Steve said of the family’s good fortune in two sports.
“And I know there wasn’t any pressure on any one of my kids to get into running. We’ve just been blessed as a family, and that continues with my grandchildren.”
Steve just completed his 26th year as a volunteer at the state track and field meet. Kevin completed his ninth year, and both were at the finish line when Matt ran his leg of the 3,200.
Kevin, who earned all-America honors twice at Carroll, said he tried to keep his pre-race advice to a minimum when it came to his nephew.
“I just told him to go all out and keep sprinting because that’s what the 800 has turned into,” Kevin said. “But with his grandpa giving him some advice, too, I didn’t want to say too much. It’s still about having fun.”
Kyle Sippy also was an accomplished runner at Craig. Steve’s son followed his older sister and older brother by running twice at the state cross country meet.
Kyle died on July 22, 1996, when a gun he was cleaning accidentally discharged.
The Sippy family set up a scholarship in his name for the Craig cross country program the following year and has been awarding a scholarship ever since. Three members of the 2009 Cougar cross country team were awarded the Kyle Sippy Scholarship at Craig’s senior awards night.
“We look for runners who exemplify everything Kyle was about when he ran on the team,” Steve said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to go to the No. 1 runner.
“The committee looks for someone who goes above and beyond what is expected of an athlete, just like Kyle did.
“It (the scholarship) means a lot to our family, and from talking to those that have been given the scholarship, it means a lot to them, too.”
It’s just another example of how the Sippy family is still running strongly.