Archive for the ‘A freakin’ American hero’ Category

Marlene Grasser was named as the best athlete in CHS history by her peers in a social media poll, and it wasn’t close. (Photo courtesy Grasser family)

There can only be one!

Or maybe three or four, if we’re being realistic.

Earlier this week, I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter, hailing all current and former Coupeville High School athletes with a simple, yet deeply-weighted, question.

Who is the best Wolf athlete you played with, and why?

Having dug myself out from under the deluge of responses, it’s become obvious there are strong feelings out there, and strong pockets of support for a couple of former Cow Town stars in particular.

Now remember, this was a randomly conducted quiz, and, if you weren’t on social media, you probably didn’t see it.

Modern-day athletes, and by that I mean, from the ’80s on, tended to draw the most support.

If we put more time and effort into this endeavor, and made sure the whole fan base of Wolf Nation was involved, I have no doubt we’d see more mentions of athletes from, say, the ’50s or the ’70s.

No one is claiming me asking a question on social media was going to give us a definitive answer. So, take it for what it was meant to be, a jumping-off point for debate and discussion.

In the end, 60 athletes, including a couple who are still active at CHS, were named.

That’s if we exclude football legends Clay Hughes and James Smith, who made a pretty good plea that they should be recognized for their pre-high school days.

“In 2001 when James and I were the water boys for the high school football team, I personally think that was one of the best performances Coupeville athletics has ever seen,” Hughes said.

“Check the team photo for that year … we are clear standouts.”

“Good luck trying to find any member of that team that was even remotely parched,” Smith said, nodding vigorously in agreement. “Not a single team has been that well hydrated since!”

CHS has a long and glorious history of water boys, but even Kyle King, who went on to win five state titles in track after his days of manning the H2O, bows in the direction of Hughes and Smith.

“I was a water boy back in 1998 with Bryan Sherman and Michael Bagby; we were pretty good … but being down there first hand I can’t say we compared to James and Clay.

“Hope this helps to give them the recognition they deserve!”

Once we got past the water boy detour, there was the vote for movie star Teen Wolf, and then along came urban legend Steven Dozier, the only one brave enough to ask if he could vote for himself.

He could, and he did, causing longtime friend (and honest to goodness hoops sensation back in the day) Allen Black to arch an eyebrow and snort.

But, when all was said and done, here’s how it broke down:


One vote:

Mike Bagby

Natasha Bamberger:

(“Her natural talent was stunning. She would lap people in a 3200. And it was effortless to her.” – Molly McPherson)

Novi Barron
Danny Conlisk
Matt Cross
Steven Dozier
Randy Duggan
Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby
David Ford
Tony Ford
Corinne Gaddis
Joy Hack
Kevin Hack

Hailey Hammer:

“Always such an amazing and supportive teammate” – Breeanna Messner

Matt Helm:

“I think he was more athletic than he seemed.” – Noah Roehl

Wiley Hesselgrave:

“Great team leader.” – Luke Merriman

Dianne Jacobsen
Brianne King
Tyler King
Steve Konek
Casey Larson

Jae LeVine:

“Cause she’s the coolest bean there is!” – Payton Wilson

Abraham Leyva:

“You goal-scoring machine!” – Jeremiah Pace

Jean Lund-Olsen
Tina Lyness

Breeanna Messner:

“Who doesn’t love her?” – Hailey Hammer

Amy Mouw
Sarah Mouw

Mitch Pelroy:

“Fast man!” – Ron Bodamer

TJ Rickner
Bill Riley
Lindsey Roberts

Noah Roehl:

“I was never blessed to get to play with him but I would nominate him for being an all-around awesome football player.” – Virgil Roehl

Virgil Roehl
Brad Sherman
Ian Smith
Megan Smith
Jeff Stone
Nick Streubel
Jim Syreen

Valen Trujillo:

“She always gave 100%, had a great attitude, was an amazing leader, and was kind to everyone” – Mikayla Elfrank

Kara Warder
Marlys West
Rich Wilson


Two votes:

Todd Brown:

“An amazing running back.” – Virgil Roehl

Linda Cheshier:

“Was such an impressive natural athlete to me! She rocked it in softball and basketball.” – Joli (Smith) Bartell

Corey Cross
Gavin Keohane
Pete Petrov
Todd Smith

Sean Toomey-Stout:

“Multiple defensive, and offensive plays executed all-around, including multiple TD’s. Hits seriously hard.” – Ben Smith

“All-around a big influence to the entire team to put in max effort. Always puts in his best effort every down.” – Dawson Houston

Jake Tumblin:

“Amazing leader and all-around athlete” – Korbin Korzan

Greg White


Three votes:

Ian Barron:

“Because … stats.” – Michael Meyer

Yashmeen Knox:

“I never played with her, but I watched her growing up play while my parents coached her! I idolized her not only on, but off the court too. I wanted to be just like her growing up. She was a rock star!” – Megan Smith

Hunter Smith:

“The combination of pure athleticism, leadership, and optimism was contagious. The work that guy put in when no one was watching was unprecedented. Phenomenal athlete, and an even better friend.” – Nick Etzell

“He is a great leader and an amazing athlete! Even if we were down 45 points, or a few runs, he always had a comeback mentality!” – Jacob Zettle

“Do I even have to explain? IT’S HUNTER SMITH!” – Alex Jimenez

Joli Smith:

“For all-around grace and style in multiple sports.” – Virgil Roehl


Four votes:

Makana Stone:

“By far one of the most supportive people on the team. She has always been a super-encouraging person and was always excited for you no matter the result. Just all-around amazing.” – Sylvia Hurlburt

“Ever since I stepped foot on the court I always felt welcome due to her and she made the game so much fun. Playing next to her for three years and being a co-captain with her for one of those years definitely showed me how to be a leader. She always brought such an amazing touch to that gym and team; she made us a family and it felt as if we were united. I will forever look up to her as a leader and an athlete.” – Kailey Kellner

Emily Vracin:

Great leader, positive attitude and stats. All-around awesome player.” – Gina (Dozier) Slowik


Nine votes:

Marlene Grasser:

“Best on the court and off.” – David Ford

“Best in every sport she did. Natural talent.” – Georgie Smith

“She was kind, supportive and an amazing athlete!” – Aleshia (McFadyen) Mitten

“She was pretty much my hero.” – Emily (Vracin) Kosderka

“She was my cousin and best role model ever; I’m blessed to have been able to play by her side. She also gave the BEST high fives ever!” – Shannon (Sherman) Martin

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Noah Roehl (right) swaps gossip with his former football coach, Ron Bagby. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The question seems fairly simple, but the answer can be fairly complex.

Who is the best Wolf athlete you played with and why?

I posed that query to current and former Coupeville High School athletes on Facebook and Twitter earlier this week, and the responses came from all directions.

As the tsunami ebbs, my plan is to produce an article Sunday which will encompass as many answers as possible.

But let’s toss an early grenade on the fire.

Noah Roehl grew up smack-dab in the middle of Wolf Nation, hanging out with dad Tom as he coached high school football and youth basketball.

Later, Noah went on to be an accomplished athlete in his own right, before launching successful alumni basketball and football tournaments to raise scholarship money and honor his late father.

As someone who was on the inside for three decades, he is uniquely qualified to issue his appraisals of his fellow Wolf athletes.

While he’s too young to have seen CHS greats of the past like Jeff Stone or Judy Marti, and adult life kept him from having a front-row seat to recent supernovas such as Makana Stone and Hunter Smith, Roehl comes out swinging in his appraisals.

David … how dare you ask us to comment in such a subjective way.

We hate/love following our favorite sports blog and would never dare to respond to such a arbitrary ranking.

How do you rank Jordan vs LeBron … are they going to face off in a one vs one game? I only dream of it.

I will definitely participate in your ranking, lol.

Based just on athleticism — strength, fitness, agility and the ability to synchronize movements to accomplish a feat better than others … not necessarily leadership or other aspects that can make a team player great.

From the 30+ years I was plugged in:


1) Ian Barron
2) Mike Bagby
3) Peter Petrov
4) Gavin Keohane
5) Todd Brown
6) Greg White
7) Ford brothers – Tony and David (before my time but heard stories)
8) Ian Smith
9) Tyler King
10) Rich Wilson
11) Casey Larson
12) Todd Smith


1) Novi Barron
2) Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby
3) Marlene Grasser (before my time but heard stories)
4) Yashmeen Knox
5) Tina Lyness
6) Brianne King
7) Joli Smith
8) Emily Vracin
9) Amy Mouw
10) Corinne Gaddis
11) Kara Warder
12) Megan Smith

Some athletes only played one sport, but, in my opinion, their athleticism would have transferred to other sports easily, had they chosen to play.

Sorry, not sorry, if you didn’t make my arbitrary list of the best “athletes” I might have seen or heard about in the brief time window I covered.

Plenty of great athletes have come through Coupeville High School over the years and many went on to achieve greatness in college and beyond.

I know there are a few that probably should be on the list from the past 5+ years, I just don’t know enough to make an arbitrary guess.

Dang it, I would also added Matt Helm to this. I think he was more athletic than he seemed.

As I was thinking about this, I think I probably missed Brad Sherman, too. Probably makes the cut before Helm, maybe sneaks in around 10th on my list.

DANG IT, I guess I will add (brother) Virgil (Roehl) to this list too. Going to be an awkward Thanksgiving now…

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   A parade will be held Aug. 5 to celebrate Jean Sherman’s 100th birthday. (Photo courtesy Marilyn Clay)

The legend will be cruising through town.

Jean Sherman, a trailblazer in female athletics in Coupeville, played long before Title IX was a reality.

As she hits the big 1-0-0 next month, local fans will get a chance to celebrate her life and accomplishments.

Sherman will be feted with a parade Sunday, Aug. 5, which will wrap up at Coupeville Town Park around noon.

She’ll be riding in the back of a convertible, allowing her many fans to greet her while she rides in style.

Cake will be on the menu, and a concert at the park will cap the festivities.

The parade is being planned by daughter Marilyn (Sherman) Clay.

“This (parade), in my mind, will allow her to see a LOT of people in a short time, and perhaps they can give her a card to read after, and not exhaust her,” Clay said. “She LOVES seeing people, and has great health and her mind is very sharp.

“Even if you don’t know her, please feel free to come,” Clay added. “I think it’s going to be a blast!”

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Go find a stamp and mail a card to former Coupeville track coach Larrie Ford as he recuperates in Seattle. (Photo courtesy David Ford)

I’m gonna need you to go find a stamp.

Then go send a card to former Coupeville High School track and field coach Larrie Ford as he continues to battle back after surgery.

Coach Ford, a fully-accredited member of the Coupeville Sports Hall of Fame, has moved to the Washington Care Center in Seattle after a three-month-plus stay at Careage.

That’s actually a huge positive, as he recovers from a leg amputation.

At the VA-contracted facility in Seattle, Coach Ford will be focusing on transitioning to the next stage of rehab as he works towards being able to have a prosthesis.

Both during his time at CHS and afterwards, he made a tremendous impact on the local sports community.

There was no project he wouldn’t support, and he put his money, time and spirit into everything he did.

Coach Ford was one of my first, and most loyal supporters, with this blog, but we go back much further.

He used to be a regular presence at Videoville during my video store days, a master of storytelling, and just an all around good guy.

As he goes through rehab, one of the best ways we can support him is to make sure he knows how important he is to his home community.

During his time at Careage, he collected 61 cards, according to son David Ford, and they hung on his wall, a reminder of everyone who was pulling for him.

Now that’s he in the big city, we need to step it up and flood his room with cards and notes.

Let Coach Ford know what an impact he had on Coupeville. What an important role he played, both on the athletic stage and off.

And that we expect him to walk back onto Mickey Clark Field at some point in the near future.

So, get going, get a stamp and fire off something to:

Larrie Ford
Room 253
2821 S Walden St
Seattle, WA 98144

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   Allison Wenzel is one of four Wolf seniors who played a sport in all 12 seasons of high school. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Missed it … by that much.

As we head towards the first official games of spring, preliminary reports have 22 of the 29 Coupeville High School athletes who played a fall and winter sport completing the trifecta and earning status as three-sport athletes.

While that’s an impressive number for a very small student body, it narrowly misses tying the best performance in the six-year history of Coupeville Sports.

The numbers:

2012-2013 — (18 three-sport athletes)
2013-2014 — (23)
2014-2015 — (20)
2015-2016 — (17)
2016-2017 — (23)
2017-2018 — (22)

That includes four Wolf seniors — Allison Wenzel, Hunter Downes, Cameron Toomey-Stout and Hunter Smith — who made it a flawless 12-for-12, playing a sport in every season of their prep careers.

Certainly nothing to sneeze at, as only three CHS athletes — Lauren Grove, Jared Helmstadter and Tiffany Briscoe — accomplished the feat in the last two years combined.

It was almost more than four, as well, as Lauren Rose and Joey Lippo each missed perfection by just a single season, opting to sit out their senior and sophomore basketball seasons respectively.

Of the 22 who are minting themselves as three-sport athletes in 2017-2018, there’s a good balance.

The breakdown shows 12 boys and 10 girls, with seven seniors, six sophomores, five juniors and four freshmen.

Wolf girls were ahead going into spring, but five of the seven who are declining to play this season, for various reasons, are female athletes.

The spotlight will swing back on the girls next year, though, as the only CHS juniors who have a shot to pull off a 12-for-12 career are Lindsey Roberts and Sarah Wright.

Coupeville’s three-sport athletes in 2017-2018:

Mollie Bailey (frosh) (soccer, basketball, softball)
Kylie Chernikoff (frosh) (volleyball, basketball, track)
Hunter Downes (sr) (football, basketball, soccer)
Mason Grove (soph) (tennis, basketball, baseball)
Gavin Knoblich (soph) (football, basketball, baseball)
Ryan Labrador (jr) (football, basketball, track)
Joey Lippo 
(sr) (tennis, basketball, baseball)
Dane Lucero 
(jr) (football, basketball, baseball)
Jean Lund-Olsen
 (soph) (football, basketball, track)
Jake Pease 
(jr) (football, basketball, baseball)
Chelsea Prescott 
(frosh) (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Avalon Renninger 
(soph) (soccer, basketball, tennis)
Lindsey Roberts (jr) (soccer, basketball, track)
Kyle Rockwell 
(sr) (football, basketball, baseball)
Hunter Smith (sr) (football, basketball, baseball)
Scout Smith
 (soph) (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Cameron Toomey-Stout 
(sr) (football, basketball, track)
James Vidoni
 (sr) (football, basketball, baseball)
Allison Wenzel 
(sr) (volleyball, basketball, track)
Genna Wright
 (frosh) (soccer, basketball, tennis)
Sarah Wright
 (jr) (soccer, basketball, softball)
Tia Wurzrainer 
(soph) (soccer, basketball, tennis)

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