They say when it rains, it pours. For Earl and Elaine King this could not have been more true when an ultrasound at seven weeks found not one, but four babies waiting to enter the world. Though it took eight years for conception, it only took about nine months and then just five minutes for their fraternal quadruplets to be born – Sophie, Bethany, Natalie and then Nathaniel. This set of quadruplets have grown to be standouts on the track, in the pool and in the classroom.
“I was surprised to learn we were having four children,” said Earl King. “After they revived me – I was very excited,” he joked.
In high school, Earl played basketball at Armstrong High and Elaine played basketball and field hockey at Hopewell. As adults both Earl and Elaine have run for recreation since 1980, participating in local races. The couple invested in two strollers that held two children each, and ran through Battlefield Park with the children almost daily. The King quads have been running since infancy and it’s no surprise that all four grew into distance runners and senior leaders on Matoaca’s track team.
“I love them [the Kings] to death,” said Matoaca Track head coach Charles Bailey. “They have to be one of the most athletic sets of quadruplets around, and they are such hard workers.”
Bethany, a VMI commit runs the 800 and 1000 meters. Sophie also runs the 800 and 1000 in addition to the 400 and 4 x 400, but has an offer for a full scholarship to swim at the University of Connecticut. The Citadel is also interested. Sophie finished third in the state in the 1000 run during indoor season.
“Once she gets college level training, she’s going to go off the charts,” said Bailey.
Natalie runs the 800 and 1600 and also plays soccer for the Warriors. The senior also played field hockey. The footballer is currently deciding on whether to go to UVA or Virginia Tech for academics. Nathaniel runs the 1000, 1600 and 3200 and will attend Virginia Tech in the fall with plans to walk on to their track team.
Academically, the siblings all have a GPA of 4.4 or higher and Sophie, Bethany and Natalie are ranked in the top 25 in their graduating class.
“We support each other in all the things we do,” explained Bethany. “We don’t really compete; we pick one another up when someone is struggling.”
That attitude has helped the Kings to succeed even when they have competed against each other. Since the sisters run similar events, they have been in heats together many times.
“The girls are happy for whoever wins, and each other’s success,” explained their father.
As one would imagine, raising quadruplets has been a balancing act. Earl King stated that one of the biggest challenges for him and his wife, as parents, was coordinating schedules and having to miss one child’s athletic events to take another child somewhere else.
“It was all worth it,” said Earl King, “But I had to adjust and teach myself to handle those things.”
Mom was given advice by a than you can handle.”
“They were our blessing after eight years,” said Elaine King. “Initially I didn’t know what I was up against, but I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”
With graduation rapidly approaching, the Kings are looking forward to sending their troop off to college this fall with a great sense of pride mixed with a feeling of temporary loss.
“To know they will be leaving this year to go to college, it’s heartbreaking already,” said Earl King. “I’m going to miss them like you wouldn’t believe.”
There’s also the challenge for the quads on being away from each other. That will be quite a change to go along with the transition from high school to college.
“It’s going to be a lot different, said Bethany King. “We’ve been together our whole lives, but we’ll stay in contact with each other- we can do it, we’re strong enough.”
The Kings, together or apart are a force to be reckoned with and are on the fast track to success. For results on how the quads and Matoaca track perform in outdoor season, follow us on twitter @VNewsSports.