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Lauren Marrs basks in the glow of helping her basketball team win a SWISH championship. (Emili Marrs photo)

Lauren Marrs is the type of player every coach appreciates.

She can control a game by herself, seems to have little fear on the hardwood or pitch, and is already quite-polished for an athlete headed into her freshman year of high school.

But as talented as Marrs has been while playing with middle school and select squads, it is the way she embraces being part of something bigger which truly sets her apart.

She can be a star, if that’s what you need, but she can also be part of an ensemble, if that’s what you require.

All while displaying the same passion and positive attitude, regardless of her role.

For Marrs, that just comes naturally.

“I enjoy everything about being an athlete,” she said. “I love being a part of a team.

“I just want to keep working hard and learning,” Marrs added. “I want to keep improving in all areas of the sports I play.”

In her middle school days, the younger sister of former Wolf standout Jaden Marrs played sports year-round, with volleyball, basketball (school and SWISH), and select soccer on her resume.

As she makes the jump to Coupeville High School, Lauren plans to fine-tune her focus, putting an emphasis on basketball, where she’s a deadly shooter and fluid ballhandler, and soccer, which is her burning passion.

“My favorite sport is soccer,” Marrs said. “I have been playing for 10 years, select for the last six.”

On the pitch, she’s a lock-down enforcer in net, playing goaltender for the SW Reign the past three seasons.

“I love the position I play and I would like to continue on playing it throughout high school and college,” Marrs said.

She plans to play both sports all four years of high school, and pledges, “I want us to work hard and win.”

Off the field, Marrs enjoys her health and PE classes, is a big fan of The Goonies and the Indiana Jones movies, and finds numerous ways to stay busy.

“I like to spend my time playing and watching sports,” she said. “I also like to swim, hike, play b-ball, go to the beach, and spend time with my friends and my family.”

Whether she’s knifing big, bad King’s on the hardwood, nailing a three-ball from somewhere out in the parking lot as mom Emili high-fives everyone within a five-mile radius, or pulling off a sweet shutout on the soccer pitch, Lauren keep things simple.

“I look up to my parents and listen to and respect what my coaches say.”

Sounds like a star to me.

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Quinten Simpson-Pilgrim played on the first-ever Coupeville Middle School boys soccer team. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Simpson-Pilgrim goes strong to the hoop. (Morgan White photo)

​Quinten Simpson-Pilgrim is ready to mix things up a bit.

As he heads into his freshman year at Coupeville High School, the promising young student/athlete plans to stay with one longtime favorite sport, while trying another for the first time.

Simpson-Pilgrim, following in the footsteps of older brother Jacobi, who graduated this spring, is already a veteran on the basketball court.

“Basketball is my favorite because it’s fun, and I have stuck with it throughout my whole life,” Simpson-Pilgrim said.

​”I think my strengths are stamina and my physical strength,” he added. “I’d like to work on rebounding.”

While he was a member of the first-ever Coupeville Middle School boys soccer squad this past fall, Simpson-Pilgrim has his sights set on a different sport for his high school days.

He plans to turn out for cross country, which has been bumped from September to March along with other fall sports, as the world deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Regardless of when he gets to compete, Simpson-Pilgrim plans to be ready to take full advantage of his opportunities.

“I always have something to focus on getting better at and have something to do.” he said. “My goal is to make varsity (in my sports) before my junior year.”

A big fan of his math and PE classes, Simpson-Pilgrim enjoys playing games, listening to music, and hanging out with friends when he’s not pursuing his athletic dreams.

While he strives for success, the young Wolf is quick to give credit to those who are helping him on his journey.

“The people that have the biggest impact on me are my previous (basketball) coach, Greg White, who has been my coach since 2nd grade, and my mom, because she is always a part of my team and helping plan stuff.”

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Izzy Wells snags a rebound during the last high school game played by CHS before COVID-19 shut things down. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Six months down. Five to go?

Well, it’s a yes to the former, a maybe to the latter.

Tuesday – August 11, 2020 – marks six full months since the last time a Coupeville High School athletic team played an officially sanctioned game in any sport.

Way back on Feb. 11, the Wolf girls basketball team fell beneath a hail of three-point bombs put up by visiting Meridian, and was ushered out of the district playoffs after absorbing its second loss in as many nights.

That brought a close to a strong 12-7 campaign for CHS, playing its first season under new coach Scott Fox.

With nine of 13 players who scored during the season eligible to return, plus supernova sophomore Ja’Kenya Hoskins, who was injured the whole year, the future was, and is, a bright one.

At the time, the sadness of a season ending was muted by the knowledge most of the Wolf players would roll on into spring sports, returning to softball fields, tennis courts, or track ovals.

When the last stragglers exited the gym the night of Feb. 11, they had no way of knowing what was coming, or, what was probably already lingering in the air.

The rise of COVID-19, the moment when it went from being a whisper to a full-blown pandemic, was still around the corner, and no one knew the shutdown of sports was on its way.

Now, as we sit six months down the road, we know Wolf athletes never got a chance to play that spring sports season.

And, we know that after a summer in which traditional activities like little league were left by the wayside, there will be no fall high school sports season.

The good news is that fall, unlike spring, is not being outright cancelled, but instead moved, with sports such as football and volleyball hopping from September starts to March beginnings.

The hope, put forth by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, is that high school sports will return at the start of 2021, with basketball picking up where it left off.

Right now, practices are set to start the last week of December, with a compressed season, in which schools can play 70% of a normal schedule, beginning in January.

Then, if things hold, fall sports occupy March and April, and spring sports return in May and June.

But, as we know, COVID-19 operates as it chooses to operate, and not how we might like it to, meaning nothing is set in stone.

This week, though, we note the six-month anniversary of high school sports being AWOL in Coupeville.

I say “note,” because “celebrate” is probably not the right word.

Instead of being mad, though, we can look back to that last game and remember the highlights, of what was, and what can be again.

Facing off with an ultra-aggressive, very-successful Meridian squad which made it all the way to state, Coupeville had to dig out of a hole all night long.

Which doesn’t mean the Wolves didn’t have their spotlight moments.

Midway through the second quarter, sparked by a steal and bucket from senior Scout Smith, CHS went on a 10-4 surge.

During that run, underclassmen Anya LeavellCarolyn Lhamon, and Maddie Georges all scored, with Smith setting up Leavell on a note-perfect pass slipped between backpedaling defenders.

Then, late in the game, popular Wolf senior Tia Wurzrainer, celebrating her birthday, pulled up on the move and hit nothing but net on the final jump shot of her stellar prep hoops career.

That sent Coupeville fans into a tizzy in what would be, for now, the final great explosion by Wolf faithful at a high school sports event.

The six months since have been far quieter, and there is no doubt, far lonelier for many.

But the future is unwritten.

Just as we didn’t know that night that things would take a turn for the worse, some day we may look back at today and say, hey, this was where it all began to turn around.

So, I say, stay positive. Look forward. Continue to work.

There will be a day where, once again, Wolf athletes will play, Coupeville fans will be in the stands, and life will be back in a more-familiar rhythm.

None of us know how many hours, days, or months that will be.

But it will be. That I know.

 

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Mason Grove, here to entertain. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mason Grove would make Alexander Hamilton proud, cause the former Wolf never, ever threw away his shot.

Instead, the 2020 CHS grad spent most of his days in the red and black making the net jump, three-ball after three-ball falling from the skies.

Grove feared no rival on the hardwood, and played basketball in the style of a Damian Lillard, letting fly from any angle, any spot on the floor, at any point in the game.

From a scrappy, undersized youngster to a confident elder statesmen and team leader, his journey on the basketball court was a thrilling one to watch for hoops fans.

Not that Grove was a one-sport guy, as he also excelled on the tennis courts and baseball diamond.

Grove always seemed to enjoy his time as an athlete, even after a collision with teammate Matt Hilborn left him with a smashed-up nose. (Chris Smith photo)

He made an especially-strong case for himself with a racket in hand, where he meshed often dynamic shot-making skills with a nice bit of attitude.

Paired up with James Wood, Grove was a top doubles ace for Ken Stange’s Wolf tennis squads, and the duo thrived in the spotlight of being Coupeville’s #1 team.

But, while he was a jack of all trades on the baseball diamond, and a throwback to a better, grittier time on the tennis court — unlike most modern players, Grove wasn’t afraid to drill a rival player with the ball, something which makes ’80s tennis players such as myself nod in approval — it’s basketball which dominates his resume.

“You will not score! I will … a lot … but you won’t!!” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Grove loved to shoot, and, while he developed as an attacker as he matured, getting to the free throw line more often, the three-ball was his prime weapon.

His shot was always a little bit different than a lot of other players, as he would rear back and fling the ball from over his shoulder.

And it worked, big time.

Since he snapped off his shots, Grove almost always got the ball up before defenders could adjust, and the resulting heaves were rainbows caressing the roof of the gym.

When he got hot, it seemed like he would never miss, shot after shot rippling the net, while Grove, slight smirk hiding behind his mouth guard, ambled away like a gunfighter after another successful shoot-out at high noon.

Early in his CHS hoops career, he was on pace to be the highest-scoring JV player the Wolf boys program had ever seen.

In one game against Port Townsend, Grove rained down 10 three-balls on his way to 34 points, and the only reason he didn’t catch Allen Black for the single-season JV scoring mark was because his JV playing time became limited as varsity coach Brad Sherman started using him as a go-to gunner.

Once he made his mark at the varsity level, immediately stroking long-range shots and opening space for older teammate Hunter Smith to rumble, Grove never looked back.

He was the #6 scorer on the varsity team as a sophomore, despite playing in just a handful of minutes, then jumped to #3 as a junior and #1 during his senior season.

When he walked off the court for the final time at CHS, after a season and prep career-ending playoff loss, Grove had rung up 414 points in varsity games, which puts him #54 all-time for a program which has played for 103 seasons.

And the numbers are nice, definitely.

But it’s how he played which fans will remember.

In all of his sports, Grove was just flat-out entertaining, capable and willing of putting on a show.

He always got the most out of his talent, and seemed to enjoy every moment he had on a court or field.

So, for the numbers, and for the style, and for the way he would stand off to the side, talking and smiling with a rival player, while free throws were being shot, and then, bam, two seconds later, drill a three-ball right in that guy’s face, he joins big sis Lauren in the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find the duo up at the top of the blog, hanging out under the Legends tab.

Right where they belong.

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Makana Stone continues to reel in awards. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

She’s still in the game.

Even though Coupeville’s Makana Stone graduated from Whitman College earlier this spring, her name keeps popping up every time an award is announced.

Earlier, the former Wolf was tabbed as the Northwest Conference women’s basketball MVP, won Whitman’s Mignon Borleske Award — the school’s highest athletic honor for a female athlete — and landed on the NWC All-Academic First Team.

Now, Stone has been nominated by Whitman for the big-time NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

She’s one of seven senior student/athletes across all sports honored by NWC officials.

The league’s senior female administrators will pare that list of seven down to one athlete, and announce their pick Tuesday, June 14.

Whether it’s Stone or a fellow athlete, the NWC selection enters the national competition, where the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee picks a top 30, with 10 athletes apiece from D1, D2, and D3.

The committee then selects a top three for each division, with one athlete eventually emerging as the ultimate winner.

Angela Mercurio, a triple jumper from the University of Nebraska, won the award in 2019, while Canisius College distance runner Mary Beth Riley claimed the inaugural honor back in 1991.

Two basketball players (Rebecca Lobo – University of Connecticut – 1995, and Nkolika Anosike – University of Tennessee – 2008) have previously won the award.

The NCAA Woman of the Year recognizes “graduating female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service, and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.”

Stone finished her four-year run at Whitman having made the most starts of any female basketball player to ever attend the Walla Walla school.

She and her fellow Blues seniors went to the NCAA tourney three times in four seasons, won a league title, and captured more wins than any group in program history.

When Stone wasn’t flying down the court, slapping layups high off the glass or rejecting rival shots, she was a standout in the classroom and the community.

Coupeville’s progeny was part of the Whitman College mentor program, an ACE representative, and a member of the Whitman Elementary School Science Night Committee.

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