JEFFERSON CITY (WATE) – It’s one thing to compete with a sibling, but another to have to take direction from them. For Carson-Newman assistant track coach Tyler Stepp and high-jumper Tanner Stepp, this is a daily reality.
“I was graduating from ETSU in 2014 and he was graduating from Jefferson County High School and he was looking for a home. And I was looking to take my next step in track and field which was going to be coaching,” said Tyler Stepp. “I reached out to Coach Needs and he said he had a spot for me and certainly if I was coming, he wanted my brother too. So it just kind of all fell into place and the rest is kind of history.”
“We kind of came in as a package deal,” said Tanner Stepp.
It was a deal apparently only they knew about.
“The first two or three months I was here nobody even knew that we were brothers. I guess they just thought it was weird that we rode to practice every day together,” said Tanner Stepp.
What happens on the track, stays on the track.
“You have to kind of compartmentalize it, because you don’t want that to be lingering here when you’re at practice and you certainly don’t want to take that home with you because he and I are best friends so we have a relationship that’s a lot bigger than track and field outside of track and field. So we try to split that up and make it as different as it can be,” said Tyler Stepp.
That’s easier said than done when you’re rooting for both you athlete and family.
“I get most nervous coaching him, I don’t know why that is I’ve always been that way,” said Tyler Stepp. “He’s such a talented guy. He can do really well and he has done really well and I don’t want to be the reason that he doesn’t because he would tell me if I was. But it’s been great, I think that’s probably why I get nervous. I have a lot invested with it.”
For the most part, Tyler Stepp enjoys watching his little brother succeed, unless it involves Tanner Stepp breaking one of his records.
“The only conflict we have is I’m way out of shape and 35 lbs ago, but we argue about who was the better athlete. That’s about as far as the argument goes with us,” said Tanner Stepp.
It’s a fair fight between the two brothers. Tanner Stepp is a two-time All-American getting ready to compete at nationals this weekend and Tyler Stepp is a former All-American at ETSU. All the accolades simply translate to mutual respect.
“I know he knows what he’s talking about so I just kind of work with what he says and he works with me and it seems to work. It’s kind of a weird situation because it’s my brother, but he knows me better than pretty much anyone so it works in our favor,” said Tyler Stepp.
Tanner Stepp is participating in the high jump at the DII Men’s College Outdoor Track and Field Championships over the weekend alongside teammate triple-jumper Kristofer Potts-Howard.