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It begins!!

Senior co-captain Carson Risner (John Fisken photos)

  Senior captain Carson Risner works on hand-offs with his quarterback. (John Fisken photos)

Joel Walstad

  Joel Walstad barks out signals while Lathom Kelley prepares to unleash a little thing he calls “Super Fast Blinding Speed.”

Someone may have forgotten to use sun screen...

Someone may have forgotten to use sun screen…

Jose

Jose Castro prepares to explode off the line.

Cameron Toomey-Stout

Freshman Cameron Toomey-Stout flies around the corner during a drill.

Did CHS head coach Tony Maggio sleep at all the night before the first day of practice? Probably not.

  Did CHS head coach Tony Maggio sleep at all the night before the first day of practice? Probably not.

One eye on the field, one eye on the cameraman.

One eye on the field, one eye on the camera. OK, maybe both eyes on the camera…

Vacation is done.

The first wave of Coupeville High School athletes hit the practice field Wednesday, officially kicking off the 2014-2015 school athletic year.

Today it was Wolf football. In five days, girls’ soccer, volleyball and boys’ tennis will join them.

The first official game: Friday, Sept. 5 when CHS welcomes South Whidbey to Cow Town for a football game that will decide the fate of the universe itself.

And thus it begins.

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Malia Henderson

Malia Henderson

With Coupeville leaving the 1A/2A Cascade Conference and joining Port Townsend, Chimacum and Klahowya in the 1A Olympic League this fall, now is a great time to learn a bit about some of the players who will face off with the Wolves in the future.

Malia Henderson doesn’t mind being in the crossfire.

The Port Townsend senior anchors both of her teams, playing goalie for the girls’ soccer squad and catcher for the Redhawk softball team. Both positions put her in the heart of the action, something she openly craves.

“I like positions that involve strategy and quick responses,” Henderson said. “I like the strategic aspects of playing team sports; it’s amazing to watch the cohesiveness of the team come together throughout the season.”

While she enjoys both of her sports, it’s soccer, where Coupeville will see her for the first time, that ultimately captures her heart.

“Soccer is my favorite sport,” Henderson said. “I like how physically demanding being a goalkeeper is; the position requires a great deal of focus and I love the adrenalin rush I get when the other team is shooting at me.”

When she steps into the net, Henderson goes in expecting to be at her best, and a large part of that is based on the hard work she and her teammates put in between games.

“I am a good leader and have a good work ethic and take practices seriously,” she said. “I am a strong strategic player; I’m always thinking a play ahead.

“I like to size up each team we play and know the other teams strengths and weaknesses,” Henderson added. “I play very aggressively and go into each game thinking we are going to win.”

A big fan of backpacking and mountaineering (she and her dad climbed Mt. Rainier this summer), Henderson splits time between PTHS and Peninsula College, where she participates in the Running Start program.

As she prepares for her final year at Port Townsend — she moved to town in the 3rd grade — Henderson will face new challenges, from different league foes (“I have never played against Coupeville before, but I am ready to see them on the field”) to a school mascot change.

After 88 years as the Redskins, Port Townsend students voted to retire that mascot and become the Redhawks starting with the 2014-2015 season.

“I fully support the change of the mascot, and I am looking forward to becoming a Redhawk for my last year at Port Townsend High School,” Henderson said. “My goal for my last year is to play my absolute hardest and leave it all out on the field.

“I want to enjoy my last year at the high school and my first year as a Redhawk!”

During her final months as a high school athlete, Henderson will continue to turn to the people closest to her for support.

Her family and a string of coaches have been a reliable rooting section, helping guide her into becoming a successful young woman.

“My parents have always been huge supports with my interests,” Henderson said. “When I first came to Port Townsend, Liz and Kevin Coker were my first soccer and baseball coaches. They have always been my biggest supports in my extended family.

Steve Shively gave me one-on-one coaching during my first two years at the high school,” she added. “I have two wonderful coaches in Colin Foden and Tom Gambill, and I love all my teammates. I couldn’t do any of this without them!”

Sydney Autio

Sydney Autio

Sydney Autio made her move last year.

Just a sophomore at the time, she became a key member of both the Coupeville High School volleyball and girls’ tennis squads, beaming out her mega-watt smile as she soared in both sports.

On the volleyball court, Autio took over at a key spot, holding down the setter position for the Wolves, directing traffic and setting up her teammates with her precision passing.

When spring rolled around she went a step or two further, advancing to the postseason, where she teamed up with senior Sydney Aparicio to form a deadly doubles duo known as Sydney Squared.

Oh yeah, and she also did double duty at times, scraping out the time to be part of the Wolf cheer squad while still competing in another sport at the same time.

With two years left in her high school career, the sky is the limit for the talented, bubbly Autio.

As she celebrates her birthday today, let’s take the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of her fan club.

And now is the right time to do so, because if she continues to play with the passion and joy she’s exhibited so far, that fan club will be very, very crowded by the time she reaches her various Senior Night festivities.

Happy birthday, Sydney.

You’re a joy to watch play and here’s hoping your fun never stops.

Lathom Kelley (John Fisken photo)

Lathom Kelley (John Fisken photo)

In just under 24 hours Coupeville High School will kick off a new fall sports season with the first day of football practice.

The Wolves hit the practice field 1 PM Wednesday, starting two-a-days.

Opening night is Sept. 5, when South Whidbey comes to town.

While the two schools are now in different leagues, with CHS jumping from the 1A/2A Cascade Conference to the 1A Olympic League, the game is still for Island bragging rights and possession of The Bucket for the next year.

One of the players most excited to get on the field and start is Wolf junior Lathom Kelley.

As a freshman, he and his teammates went to Langley and claimed the trophy, while last year The Bucket went back South after the Falcons won a foggy battle in Cow Town.

Kelley’s thoughts on this, Football Eve:

I’m very excited for football this year.

I won’t lie, having South Whidbey as our first game this year is going to be a great way to start off our season.

Through my past years in football I have noticed a lack of excitement, but I’m hoping that this year, being in a new league and kicking South Whidbey’s butt for our first game, will raise the level of excitement and effort throughout the season.

I am pretty big on practicing how you play, so these next two weeks are going to be very difficult with two-a-days and gold card sales (get ahold of me if you want one!).

All I want this year is to win.

Freshman year we won two games, sophomore we won four. This year I want all of them to be wins.

What I want more than anything, though, is to have every single person on the team to want it as bad as I do.

Bob Martin, at work and rest.

Bob Martin, at work and rest.

Bob Martin is the unsung backbone of Coupeville sports.

Whether coaching football and basketball, working with the high school boosters or the Boys and Girls Club, volunteering for Race the Reserve road crew work or simply making sure the lights stay on and the PA system works in the CHS gym during games, he’s everywhere at once.

In a small town, you need people like Bob, who are willing to put a lot of time and work in for very little pay, to make things work.

He may not always be in the spotlight, which he seems quite happy about, but he is indispensable.

Plus, he upholds a proud tradition honored by myself and Wolf football coach Tony Maggio, among others, of wearing shorts almost 24-7-365, rain and/or snow be danged.

Good man.

So, on this, his birthday, take a moment to give a hand to the quiet man of Coupeville sports, the guy who helps keep everything running while building for the next generation.

There is a landmark that sits in front of the CHS gym — a rock that is spray painted every time someone has something to get off their chest.

When it comes to Wolf sports, from the pee wees to the big kids, Bob Martin is the real-life embodiment of that rock.

Just don’t go spray painting him any time soon…

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