My “winter depression beard” has the early lead on CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith’s more dapper face fuzz. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Somehow, I have managed to avoid reality for two-and-a-half years.

I started Coupeville Sports in Aug. 2012, but stepped away from my “real world” job and went to full-time writing June 1, 2015.

With no business plan beyond “hey, I’ll devote all my time to covering high school and middle school sports in a rural town on a rock in the middle of the water and maybe someone will toss a coin or two into my hat,” I have persisted.

It helps I don’t pour money into smoking, drinking or owning a phone. The last part makes watching movies so much better – embrace the quiet.

It also helps I am fine with driving what can charitably be referred to as a “hunk o’ junk” and I have pared my bills down to the barest of bare minimums.

Also really helps I have a landlord, CHS alum Jack Sell, who hasn’t drop-kicked me those times when I needed an extra day or two to pull together his money.

How much longer can I keep this going? Good question.

Journalism is a fickle business, whether you work for a newspaper funded by a kajillionaire in Moose Jaw or hack away at the keyboard in the middle of the night on the (sometimes fragrant) shores of Penn Cove.

For me, not counting sales of my books (Stephen King trembles…), there’s essentially three ways to fund Coupeville Sports. One is dry, the other will never work and the third is my lifeblood.

When I started this blog, 5+ years and 5,681 articles ago, there was no reason for anyone to believe it would survive longer than that South Whidbey sports blog which went down in spectacular flames after a single day.

To convince people to give me a try, I sold my advertising for “the life of the site.” Which pretty much guaranteed that, if I survived, at some point, there would be little room for growth.

So be it.

Those who took a chance on me in the early days, from Shelli Trumbull to Jon Roberts to Paula Spina, got more than they probably anticipated.

I’m glad it worked out for them, and the others who have chosen to support me in that manner, even if that means there’s little room for future growth.

Route #2 would be to mirror many newspapers and drop a pay wall on Coupeville Sports.

Never going to happen. Ever.

If you choose to go that way as a publication, God bless.

And if, while you insist it works, the bean counters up North still make you lop off an editor during the holidays, well, maybe the pay wall kept that job in play a few more days. Maybe.

But I have said since day one, Coupeville Sports is free. If you want to read it, read it. If you want to support it, great. If you don’t, such is life.

Call me obstinate, but no pay wall. Ever.

Which brings us to the only way this blog has stayed on its feet — you, the reader. Especially the reader who gives back.

Donations, from the person who slips money into my pocket as we pass at Prairie Center, to those who use the PayPal button on the top right of the blog, are what keep me moving forward.

The longer I’ve been away from having a “real world” job, the more I have not wanted to return.

There are many days where I’m a half step away from fully embracing the hermit life, so it’s a good thing my “winter depression beard” is coming in thick.

Writing Coupeville Sports, and attending games, forces me to have interaction with the outside world, to “use my words” with someone other than my landlord’s outside cats.

Which is probably a good thing.

In a magical world, someone (are you listening Mr. Gates?) would step up and offer me a $5,000 grant, which would pay my rent at Coupeville Sports World Headquarters for a year.

Back here, in the real world, I’ll just say this — if you enjoy reading my work, if you think it’s providing something unique, if you believe it’s worth supporting, maybe add me to your Black Friday list and use this handy link:


If you do, thank you. And, if you don’t, keep reading.

   Coach Lark Gustafson (center) heads up a SWISH hoops squad featuring Coupeville players in grades 5-7. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   One step away from high school ball, the Wolves playing for Dustin Van Velkinburgh are in 8th grade.

The little sisters are here, to lay claim to the court.

Coupeville’s girls SWISH basketball teams have been ultra-successful in recent seasons, and there seems little reason to think it won’t continue.

The young Wolves, many of whom have now been playing together for several seasons, are working their way towards the high school team, all with an eye on continuing the success those older squads have also enjoyed.

This year’s 8th grade SWISH team has already beaten Orcas Island and Friday Harbor, while losing thrillers to big-city foes from Anacortes, Blaine and Mount Vernon.

The Wolves, playing without several injured players, had late leads on two of those three teams.

“We are playing really well; just missing shots,” said coach Dustin Van Velkinburgh. “Should be a good group to watch throughout high school.”

   Skyy Lippo has been active on the ballet stage for most of her 18 years. (Photos courtesy Connie Lippo)

The early days of a dance queen.

The company and the dancer are both hitting milestones.

When Whidbey Island Dance Theatre stages its annual production of The Nutcracker in Dec., it’ll be the 25th anniversary for the holiday staple.

At the same time, Coupeville High School senior Skyy Lippo, who is dancing the lead role of the Faerie Queen, is capping her own 12-year run in the ballet.

Lippo, who has “danced pretty much since she could walk,” has spent her entire school life chasing her dream.

Over the years, she’s progressed from being a bumblebee buzzing around in the background to taking center stage.

Last year, the production shifted the Rat King role to being the Rat Queen for Lippo.

Now, in her final Nutcracker — at least as a high-schooler — she’s settling in to the lead performance, which in most previous years has gone to a pro dancer.

As Lippo has progressed from bit roles to starring parts, she’s also risen in the company and currently occupies a dance captain position.

After graduation, she plans to continue pursuing dance while attending college. Lippo is undecided on a career, but is entertaining thoughts of training to be an EMT or nurse.

The thought of her leaving Whidbey and not being in a future production of The Nutcracker is an idea which will take some getting used to for all involved.

“I don’t think we can let her graduate,” WIDT President Dierdre Sherman said with a laugh. “She really is the backbone of this company and I greatly appreciate all she brings as dance captain and as a dancer!”

It’s a feeling shared by many who have worked with Lippo during her days as a dancer.

“I don’t have enough positive ways to describe Skyy,” said Head Ballet Mistress Katelyn Lodell. “She’s hard working, mature beyond her years, and always brings light into the room.

“I’ll never forget watching her as a baby flower and her beaming smile,” she added. “So excited to watch her as faerie queen!”

When they look back at her career, Lippo’s former dance instructors do so with great pride.

Skyy has been a blessing beyond words to me personally as her teacher, choreographer and director,” Jamie Pitts said. “I’ve so appreciated her helpful and organized nature and her willingness to push herself herself physically and emotionally in everything we have worked on together.

“She is a poster child for current and future dancers and has been a gift to her company girls as their captain.”

Lippo was a student in the first modern dance class Amy Jo Lehman taught after returning home for college, making this an especially emotional performance for her former instructor.

“Baby Skyy is all grown up! She made it so easy for all of us,” Lehman said. “She’s the heart and soul of the studio and the company and she represents the epitome of hard work.

“I’m sure there were years where she didn’t get cast in the roles she was hoping, or got criticism in class that stung, but she pushed through and didn’t let it faze her, only motivate her,” she added. “Now look at her — she’s developed into such a beautiful, strong, confident, amazing dancer.”

The Nutcracker runs over two weekends, with performances Dec. 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17.

For more info and to buy tickets, pop over to:


   Avalon Renninger and Co. will play four games in six days to open the season, including facing an Australian traveling team. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This schedule is going to 21.

The Coupeville High School girls basketball squad has picked up an extra game this season, and it involves two road trips.

Making the much-longer journey will be Flinders Christian Community College, a traveling team from Australia, which swings by Whidbey Island to play the Wolves Saturday, Dec. 2.

Coupeville, which will be capping a four-games-in-six-days stretch to open the season (it travels to Bellingham Nov. 27, then hosts Blaine Nov. 29 and Mount Vernon Christian Dec. 1), won’t be playing at home, though.

The Wolves will hop on the bus and head down Island to Langley, where the game will be played at South Whidbey High School.

Tip-off for the varsity-only game is 11 AM.

The game is being played in Langley, and not Coupeville, because it’s much closer to the Clinton ferry, making for less of a detour for Flinders Christian as it travels across Western Washington.

The SWHS gym is available because South Whidbey’s girls basketball squad will be out of town.

The Falcons will be at the Friday Harbor Tip-Off Classic, an event Coupeville won the previous two seasons.

While the Aussies come bearing “college” in their name, don’t take that too literally, as the term is used differently Down Under.

Flinders Christian is “an independent, coeducational, interdenominational Christian school” which caters to students in grades K-12.

The school has campuses at Carrum Downes, Traralgon and Tyabb.

Flinders Christian is sending both a girls and boys team on this US tour — which each set to play four games in Washington state and at least one in California.

18 of the 19 players involved hail from the Tyabb campus, which sits 50 miles south of Melbourne.

The tour is set up through a Seattle-based company, Team Travel Experts, and planning started in Mar. 2016.


For more info on Flinders Christian, pop over to:


   A random number generator plucked out Sage Downes to be the first Wolf hoops player to see their headshot hit the internet. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   Coupeville’s varsity girls, seeking a fourth-straight league title, have no time for your shenanigans.

First-year boys JV coach Chris Smith (back, far left) has a deep bench.

Seniors (l to r) Mikayla Elfrank, Kyla Briscoe and Allison Wenzel hang out.

Ema Smith does not fear your random number generator.

   Wolf hoops legend turned varsity coach Brad Sherman (back, far left) welcomes his first team to the floor.

The Wolf JV girls are a scrappy band of warriors.

   Seniors dominate the boys roster, with (l to r) Joey Lippo, Hunter Downes, Ariah Bepler, Cameron Toomey-Stout, Kyle Rockwell, Hunter Smith and Ethan Spark.

It’s every grandma’s favorite event – picture day.

Wanderin’ photo man John Fisken slid by the Coupeville High School gym recently to snag individual and group shots of every Wolf player in attendance.

Then he was nice enough to slip me a bunch of them.

Along with four team photos, and two collections of seniors, I used a random number generator to pluck two head-shots for use.

That means Ema Smith and Sage Downes beat the odds. So, they got that going for them, which is nice.