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For SK’s Riley Dopps, life’s a constant juggle
When she saw 58.84 seconds flash on the scoreboard, Riley Dopps smiled.
That was good enough for the South Kitsap sophomore to win the 400-meter dash at Saturday’s South Kitsap Invitational. She also began to mentally compute whether it broke Danielle Fessler’s school record of 58.2.
It is now her goal to break that 1991 record in every meet — and South coach Joanne Warren couldn’t be happier that Dopps is in a position to discuss it.
Last month, Warren said Dopps left the program for 10 days because she was miserable.
Despite that, Warren would still see Dopps running after school and smiling. The two talked and Warren invited her back to the team.
Instead of focusing on distance events, which Dopps said had “felt more like a chore,” she now runs the 400 and 800. She particularly enjoys the former.
“I go to a meet excited to run it,” Dopps said. “I’m always looking forward to it.”
Warren said she is trying to train Dopps in a similar fashion to senior Jon Phillips, who won the 1,600 and 3,200 at the South Kitsap Invitational, where the focus is on pacing rather than placing.
“She puts a lot of pressure on herself,” Warren said. “She’s just a competitor. You can just see the look on her face that she’s eyeballing who she has to go after. You can’t coach that.”
For Dopps, spring isn’t just a race on the track, but in life, too. She also serves as a defender on her Westsound FC club soccer team. A couple of her teammates at South — Christina Boddie and Holly Sieler — ran track last year, but decided to just play club soccer this spring.
“It’s a lot of go, go, go,” said Dopps, adding that she usually doesn’t get home until 9:30 p.m. because she has three soccer practices a week. “I’m still learning how to balance all that with school and my social life.”
Dopps has played soccer since kindergarten and admits that it’s her favorite sport. That doesn’t mean she won’t continue to run at South in the future or pursue track in college, though. Her mother, Kolleen Morton, began running with her a few years after Dopps began playing soccer to keep her in shape during the offseason.
Now it’s difficult to find Dopps not involved with some activity. During the summer, she enjoys wakeboarding with friends on Mason Lake.
But Dopps also appreciates some time to relax — balancing classwork and playing two sports in the spring presents a challenge at times. She even admits to having slept through her alarm a few times lately.
It’s enough for her to realize that two school sports are enough for her. Dopps said she considered playing basketball during the winter, but saw how difficult it was for friend and classmate Kelsey Callaghan to play after soccer in the fall.
Instead, Dopps limited her participation to singing the National Anthem at a few games.
And if she weren’t as busy with sports, Dopps said she would be interested in taking choir classes at South. Most of her non-sports-related activities involve reading. She particularly enjoys Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, which is based in Forks.
“My friends and I were thinking about a road trip there just for the fun of it,” she said.
For now, she’s just excited about the prospect of advancing to state in another sport after South’s soccer team went during the fall season.
“I thought I might fall into a slump with everything that’s going on,” Dopps said. “I was happy to find something I could excel in.”