102 hours and counting!!

Jae LeVine works on hitting during the early days of practice. (John Fisken photos)

Jae LeVine works on hitting during the early days of practice. (John Fisken photos)

Cameron Toomey-Stout explodes around the corner.

Cameron Toomey-Stout explodes around the corner.

High school sports have returned.

The calendar has rolled into September and the first game of the 2014-2015 school year is mere days away.

You may not be ready to give up summer, but come Friday night, fall is here, at least in terms of athletics. And, while it probably won’t be foggy and rainy — don’t worry, that’s coming — the new season kicks off with a bang.

Island rival South Whidbey hits Cow Town for a 7 PM football game, with ownership of The Bucket on the line.

The Falcons boast a new head coach in former college vet Chris Tormey.

By his side will be former Wolf assistant coach Alex Heilig, who jumped programs after two years at CHS.

The game is now a non-conference affair, with Coupeville having left the 1A/2A Cascade Conference for the 1A Olympic League, but that will do little to detract from the emotion.

Wolf volleyball jumps into the fray the next day, attending a jamboree in Oak Harbor, while girls’ soccer hosts South Whidbey Tuesday, Aug. 9 and boys’ tennis travels to Archbishop Thomas Murphy Aug. 10.

While the netters are the last of Coupeville’s four fall sports teams to kick off their season, they will be the first to play an Olympic League contest.

That comes Aug. 18, when Klahowya comes to Whidbey.

About these ads

“Everything is new!!”

Freshman William Nelson lays down a crisp volley.

Freshman William Nelson lays down a crisp volley. (John Fisken photos)

Geoff McClarin gets into the swing of things.

Geoff McClarin gets into the swing of things.

Change is in the air.

As he slides into his tenth season at the helm of the Coupeville High School boys’ tennis program, Wolf coach Ken Stange will have to adjust on the fly.

“Everything is new. New format. New league and opponents. New postseason. New travel,” Stange said. “We will flex, bend, adapt, and grow. We will also make the most out of our situation, good or bad.

“Change can be a bit awkward at times, but I’m ready and willing,” he added. “So are the boys!”

CHS has left behind the 1A/2A Cascade Conference for a newly created 1A Olympic League, and with the move comes a change from the previous match format.

In the past, the Wolves played two singles and three doubles in a varsity match. This year that jumps to three singles and four doubles, opening the way for more players to see varsity court time.

Of course, when you only have three returning letter winners who were full-time varsity players a year ago (seniors Aaron Curtin and Kyle Bodamer and junior Sebastian Davis), that also means you’ll be relying on untested netters a lot of the time.

“That creates more opportunity, but it also means that more players will have to step up,” Stange said. “None of my doubles players have varsity experience, but they will soon get it!”

Curtin, who advanced to state as a doubles player last season, will open as the #1 singles player, with Davis and Bodamer battling for position #2.

The battle for the four doubles slots is an ongoing one.

In the early lead are three tandems – Loren Nelson/Connor McCormick, Grey Rische/Jared Helmstadter and Joseph Wedekind/John McClarin.

A freshman duo of Joey Lippo and William Nelson is also in the mix.

Loren Nelson and McCormick join the three singles players as the only returning lettermen.

“We have 23 guys on the team this year, and most all of them have some experience swinging a racket. That is a plus.” Stange said.

There are only three other squads in the Olympic League, and with Chimacum and Port Townsend playing as a combined squad, that number shrinks even further.

To fill out the schedule, the netters will keep Cascade Conference rivalries alive with South Whidbey and ATM.

The jump in leagues also bumps Coupeville to a different district.

“I don’t quite know what to expect this season,” Stange said. “I’m going to reserve my thoughts about the Olympic League until two things have happened.

“One, we need to complete an entire season, including all aspects related to extra travel,” he added. “Two, now that we have moved from District 1 to District 3, we need to experience a postseason.”

A decade on the job has prepared Stange for just about any twist the season might take, however. As usual, he remains a Zen-like guru who is primarily interested in seeing his players develop to their full potential.

“My goals are every player nurtures and grows their game. Every player enjoys his time on the court,” he said. “Win or lose, every boy plays to the top of his ability and gives his maximum effort.

“On one level, our season will be a success if every player practices to improve, gives strong effort in matches, and enjoys himself while doing it,” Stange added. “On another level, our season will be a success if we can win some doubles matches. I think we will hold our own in singles, but we will need to pick up one-two wins in doubles.”

King reclaims throne!!

Tyler King

Tyler King

The pretenders to the crown have been banished. The once and future King has returned.

Healthy once again after redshirting during track season last year, University of Washington junior cross country runner Tyler King bolted out of the pack Friday, winning the men’s individual title at the UW-Seattle U Open.

The former Coupeville High School supernova covered a 4.5-mile course at Magnuson Park in 22 minutes, six seconds, claiming the title by three seconds.

Among the runners he beat was U-Dub teammate Aaron Nelson, an All-American last year.

The Huskies, who are trying to get back to the NCAA Championships as a team for the first time since 2009, were ranked 27th in the Top-30 preseason poll by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The UW women, who have reached nationals 17 of the last 19 years, are ranked 15th.

After a week-long training camp on the coast, the Huskies will next compete Sept. 20 in Seattle at the Sundodger Invitational.

Aimee Bishop has never frowned in her entire life. True story.

Aimee Bishop has never frowned in her entire life. True story.

She is the smile that powers Coupeville.

Everywhere she goes, in everything she does, Aimee Bishop spreads joy. That’s her job, her mission, her business — and business is good.

A former Wolf athletic star herself back in the day, she has gone on to bless Cow Town with a daughter (Breeanna Messner) who was as smart, talented and caring as any athlete to ever wear the red and black.

If there is an event, Aimee is there, phone bouncing from hand to hand as she keeps the lights on, makes sure the PA system doesn’t flame out and each and every fellow fan gets a smile, a nod, a hug, a brief bit of the “Bishop Glow.”

Today is her birthday but really, we should celebrate her every day. Coupeville would be 44.7% less fun if she had not returned to The Rock.

Now, at this point, she is likely rolling her eyes and saying “Oh, you guys!!”

It’s not gonna work, however.

She may try and be modest and say she’s not doing anything special, that she’s just one of many behind-the-scenes worker bees and proud mamas.

But, deep down she knows the truth, even if she won’t publicly admit it.

Aimee Bishop is a freakin’ American hero. End of story.

Embrace your awesomeness, Aimee. The rest of us have already accepted it as a stone cold fact.

The kid is alright!!

Raymond Beiriger (with ball) comes off the field after scoring against Chimacum. (John Fisken photos)

Raymond Beiriger (23) comes off the field after scoring against Chimacum. (John Fisken photos)

Beiriger with Wolf coach Tony Maggio.

Beiriger with Wolf coach Tony Maggio.

It was Coupeville’s version of “Rudy.”

Last fall, the Wolves capped off a 54-0 rout of visiting Chimacum by giving the ball to one of its hardest workers, an unheralded senior who hadn’t had much of a chance at the spotlight.

Raymond Beiriger, who celebrates a birthday today, was the guy who showed up for every practice, put in work and then stayed around afterwards to help put the equipment away before even thinking about leaving.

Every high school program needs a kid who plays his heart out, regardless of whether he’s a sandwich (or a few hundred sandwiches) away from being an imposing figure on the gridiron.

So it was nice to see CHS coach Tony Maggio call Beiriger’s number, and then watch his teammates celebrate and jump Beiriger after he plunged in for a touchdown run.

In typical fashion, after the game had ended and the local media waited to interview him, everyone had to wait.

Why? Raymond was busy putting equipment away, same as he did after every game, win or loss, big moment or not.

Now, he’s a Coupeville grad and off to other things. But he will always have that moment, when he took the ball and found the promised land.

I hope it meant as much to him as it obviously seemed to mean to his coaches and teammates.

And I hope he has an excellent birthday just days before CHS kicks off a new fall football season.

He was one of the best to wear the red and black, and that was true even before he scored.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 112 other followers