BOULDER, Colo. — Peggy Coppom is 98 years old.
She’s arguably Colorado’s most famous fan, but she’s also quick to apologize for her declining eyesight and hearing. So she had to make sure she heard correctly when Colorado athletic director Rick George told her in late January that she would have a guest the next day: Deion Sanders.
“Tomorrow, are you bringing her?” she asked Coach Prime.
George said yes. Coppom used to float root beer when George visited him in the past, but on this winter day it was chilly. So he suggested they pass some ice cream for the morning tour.
Colorado’s new football coach only drinks Pepsi anyway. Coppom had some, and she made cinnamon rolls instead. And pull out a tray of praline pecans.
George and Sanders arrived as planned, and George let the two get to know each other as the anything but shy Coppom helped educate Sanders on the program’s history. They sat together at the dining room table topped with Coppom’s pink tablecloth.
“She’s just a breath of fresh air. She just breathes life into everyone who comes close to her. It’s a godsend, man,” Sanders said on Saturday, months after they first met and hours after surprising Coppom with a ceremonial honor in Colorado’s spring game “She’s un-last-believable.”
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Coppom moved to Boulder in 1940 after growing up in Haxtun, Colorado, a small town in the northeastern plains of the state. Along with her twin sister Betty Hoover, who died in 2020, they achieved local stardom as the “CU Twins” who attended tons of Colorado sporting events and, out of pride, refused to leave early.
So, with 80 years of Buffaloes fandom alongside her sister and her late husband, who was an airline pilot, she had plenty of stories for Sanders. The trainer passed on the cinnamon rolls but downed her Pepsi as expected and began a love affair with the praline pecans she had prepared.
“They were glazed or caramelized or something like that,” Sanders said. “I was just killing those things.”
After their meeting, Coppom sent a bag to Sanders.
As their time together drew to a close, Sanders grabbed her hand and hugged her.
“I thought he was going to lift me off the ground,” Coppom said.
But before leaving, Sanders had one request. Would she be ready to go out on the field with him in the spring game in three months?
“I said, ‘Okay. But I am 98 years old. I’m not going to run,” Coppom said. “I then said OK and I thought, ‘Oh, he’s going to forget about that. He has to take care of 100 children up there. But he has not forgotten it. »
Sanders brought Coppom onto the court for Saturday’s snowy spring game. Before, she got to see a host of Colorado greats on the court.
“I was really happy to see them and get hugs from them. They had to tell me who they were when they said hello, because my vision isn’t great,” Coppom said. “But they’ve all changed so much since they’ve been here that I’m not sure I can recognize them anyway.”
They all posed together for a photo with Coppom on the court as well.
Sanders picked her up as the players began to enter the field for the first kick, and the cameras swarmed over the duo. Sanders accompanied her from the 20-yard line to the 30, and Coppom became curious.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
He told her she was going to start the match with the opening kickoff.
“I said, ‘What!?'” Coppom said. Athleticism home after the game, where she also produced some of the famous pecans. “I prayed to Jesus, ‘Help me through this. Help me through this. My balance is no longer very good. My eyes are no longer well. Nothing is good except my mouth.
Coppom picked up speed as she approached the ball and grabbed Sanders’ arm to maintain her balance as she tossed it in the air a few feet up the pitch to the cheers of the crowd.
“Peggy snapped. Peggy was the MVP of the game. She was fast. His first step was amazing. She was very physical when she grabbed me to make sure I was holding her arm,” Sanders said. “She made a big play. Her kickoff was phenomenal. Went through the amounts and everything.
Coppom added: “I’m just glad I made it and didn’t fall.”
Coppom made her way to her seats in the Flatiron Club upstairs, and like any other game, she refused to leave early, despite the game being a snowy exhibition.
Colorado caught the eye this weekend with ESPN opting to air the spring game, but when it started, viewers saw a 98-year-old superfan kick off the Coach Prime era.
“There has never been more excitement about a sport at CU like this,” Coppom said, adding that she hopes the Buffaloes can get a bowl game this year after getting 1 -11 last season. “I can’t believe one man got us all this attention.”
For a while, Sanders made sure some of that attention went to Colorado’s most loyal fan.
“She was thankful and thankful,” Sanders said. “She really was. She’s hilarious. I mean the quick little comments she can have there? Unbelievable. I’m sure they picked it up on my mic. But she’s funny, man “She’s good. I wish to God — I just want to go this far and have the same smile and the same energy and the same love, just for life, like her.”
(Photo by Deion Sanders and Peggy Coppom: Ron Chenoy/USA Today)