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Archive for the ‘Boys Soccer’ Category

“Hello boys … I’m back!!” Like Randy Quaid in Independence Day, CHS soccer coach Robert Wood is here to save the day. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Don’t call it a comeback.

Well, OK, actually you can call it just that, I guess.

Playing out a plot familiar to vampire film fans, the Coupeville High School boys soccer program had a stake driven through its heart, only to rise again in a new, stronger form.

After the first week of practice, it became apparent the Wolves couldn’t field a full 11-man team.

That forced CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith to pull the plug, and he cancelled the boys pitch season April 2.

But then, plot twist.

With San Juan Island experiencing a spike in Covid cases, Friday Harbor High School went Smith one better, shutting down all of its fall sports programs.

That erased Coupeville’s only boys tennis foe, ending the Wolf netters season before it began.

It also raised the possibility of CHS netters jumping to the pitch, and, with a revived push, new Wolf boys soccer head coach Robert Wood found enough bodies to field the necessary roster to play.

“Great team, great attitudes, great (weather) forecast (for the first game),” Wood said. “All kinds of great.”

Now on the comeback trail, Coupeville will open play at home this Friday, with a revamped six-game schedule during this pandemic-shortened campaign.

That equals the number of games the Wolf girls soccer squad is playing this season.

 

The new schedule:

Fri-April 16 — Cedar Park Christian (6:00)
Wed-April 21 — @ Grace Academy (3:30)
Tues-April 27 — @ Mount Vernon Christian (4:00)
Thur-April 29 — Providence Classical Christian (6:00)
Mon-May 3 — Orcas Island (4:00)
Wed-May 5 — @ La Conner (6:00)

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Robert Wood has seen his first season as CHS boys soccer coach end before it began. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Robert Wood’s first season as head coach of the Coupeville High School boys soccer program is ending way too early.

The original plan was for a 10-game schedule which would have launched with a home game April 7 against Friday Harbor.

Friday afternoon, however, the season was scrubbed as the Wolves were unable to come up with enough players to field a full roster.

The decision was not an easy one, said CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith, but it was one which had to be made.

Many factors combined to create the situation, with the ongoing pandemic proving to be a major issue.

“I believe, with the combination of us being unable to play last spring, with what would have been one of the strongest teams we ever had, lack of being able to build some momentum from that season, and the inability to talk with kids directly in person is what led to this,” Smith said.

Another factor is Coupeville’s move from the 1A classification, where boys soccer is played in the spring, to 2B, where it’s played as a fall sport.

During the spring, soccer competed against baseball and track for athletes.

In the fall, it runs into boys tennis, cross country, and football.

“Of course the additional competition of boys soccer moving from the spring season to fall also had an impact,” Smith said. “But this is something we knew was happening, but didn’t know we’d be dealing with Covid for an entire year.”

While the booters will sit out this season (with many moving to other sports), all involved plan to work to revive the program.

“I feel very bad for our kids who turned out this year, as well as for our new head coach, Rob Wood, who I was really excited about to see how he could build upon the success of Kyle Nelson’s tenure and continue to move us forward,” Smith said.

“He and I, together with our local youth soccer program, will be getting together to figure out a plan to get this program back up and running.”

For Wood, who was making the jump from CHS assistant coach to head coach after a decade of also working with youth soccer, it’s a dark day.

“It’s very demoralizing,” Wood said. “I’ve worked for ten years to get the Central Whidbey Soccer Club and Whidbey Island rec soccer to a point as a feeder system to CHS.

“Covid killed a lot of sport for the game since we never came together last year,” he added. “I feel bad for those seniors last year that lost their best chance, but now I’m afraid for the program.

“It’s going to be that much more difficult in August recruiting players.”

But the dream endures, even in rough times.

“I’ll be here, ready to coach,” Wood said. “Ready to praise the boys that lift up the first soccer banner in our gym.”

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Alita Blouin and other Coupeville High School fall sports athletes begin practice in the next few days. (Brian Vick photo)

We’re ready to … fall … into a new sports season.

In the jumbled Age of Coronavirus, the schedules are a little out of place, with fall sports coming on the heels of spring sports this time around.

Also, with everything compressed into a short time frame, one season begins even as another hasn’t finished.

The final spring sports contests hit next Saturday, April 3, with the first day of practice for at least one Coupeville High School fall sports squad beginning a week before.

Fall sports contests run April 7 to May 8, with winter sports starting practice during the last week of the improvised fall sports season.

Looking ahead to the first cross-over event, CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith exudes the laidback calm of a young Matthew McConaughey.

“It will be an interesting transition as our first week of practice overlaps our last week of competition,” he said.

“Our coaches have worked hard at creating a practice schedule that will benefit both seasons, so our multi-sport athletes can finish strong as well as begin to transition to their next season.”

 

The first day of practice for CHS fall sports teams:

Boys Soccer — March 29 (2:30-4:30 PM) @ Ebey Practice Field
**Coach — Robert Wood — rwood@coupeville.k12.wa.us

Boys Tennis — March 30 (2:30-4:30 PM) @ CHS tennis courts
**Coach — Ken Stange — kstange@coupeville.k12.wa.us

Cross Country — March 29 (2:30-4:00 PM) @ CHS gym
**Coach — Elizabeth Bitting — ebitting@coupeville.k12.wa.us

Football — March 27 (8:00-10:00 AM and 2:00-5:00 PM) @ CHS gym
**Coach — Marcus Carr — mcarr@coupeville.k12.wa.us

Girls Soccer — March 29 (2:30-4:30 PM) @ Ebey Practice Field
**Coach — Kyle Nelson — knelson@coupeville.k12.wa.us)

Volleyball — March 29 (6:00-8:00 PM) @ CHS gym
**Coach — Cory Whitmore — cwhitmore@oupeville.k12.wa.us

 

As the season progresses, expect changes to the schedule. To stay on top of things, try these sites:

Coupeville High School:

Coupeville School District 204 Calendar (tandem.co)

Northwest 2B/1B League:

Coupeville – Team Home Coupeville Wolves Sports (coupevilleathletics.com)

 

CHS will livestream four of its six fall sports, with football, volleyball, and both soccer teams getting the camera treatment.

To watch varsity games, check out High School Sports Online – Stream Live & On Demand (nfhsnetwork.com), which requires a subscription fee through their site.

JV volleyball matches will be streamed through Justgame Web Services (justagamelive.com), which requires an app download and a $4 fee per match.

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Chayse Van Velkinburgh with dad Dustin. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Chayse shreds the defense. (Photo courtesy Dustin Van Velkinburgh)

“All in all, it was a good day.”

Chayse Van Velkinburgh, a 10-year-old Coupeville Elementary School student, continues to play above his age group on the soccer pitch.

Saturday, mask in place, he participated in two games, while repping the uniform of two different teams.

Van Velkinburgh opened the day by suiting up for the U12 NWU Black squad, starting at left back, where he helped trigger two of his team’s three goals in a loss.

The first score came off of a long ball played from the back, while on the second tally the young supernova dropped in a pinpoint quick throw to give a teammate an advantage on a backpedaling goaltender.

“The score won’t show it, but he played really well at that level,” said dad Dustin.

Game two brought Chayse back to his normal squad, U11 NWU Black, and he propelled them to an 8-3 victory.

The younger Van Velkinburgh scored twice in his nightcap, punching in a laser from 25 feet out for one score, before getting creative for another goal.

Smartly reading the opposing goaltender, he picked off a goal kick, then lit up the goalie.

A little dribble opened things up, before Van Velkinburgh slid the ball between the opposing player’s legs to set off a celebration.

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Robert Wood has been named the new head coach for the Coupeville High School boys soccer program. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

He’s a familiar face in a new place.

For anyone who follows soccer on Whidbey Island, Robert Wood has been one of those guys doing a bit of everything, helping the sport boom locally.

Always upbeat, radiating a love for the sport which he tries to pass on even to those heathens such as myself who have a limited appreciation for the beautiful game, he’s a go-getter.

And now, he’s the new boys soccer coach for Coupeville High School, bouncing up from an assistant position to replace Kyle Nelson.

Wood’s former boss is not going anywhere, but decided to focus on coaching just the Wolf girls now that both CHS soccer programs will play during the same season.

Previously, the Coupeville girls played in the fall, with the boys taking the pitch in the spring.

But, with the Wolves moving from 1A to 2B, all soccer will now be played in the fall.

Except during a pandemic…

The current plan for a return to play during COVID-19 is for spring sports to kick things off, with fall sports, including soccer, set to run from March 29 to May 8.

With the adjusted schedule, Wood and other coaches will need to adapt.

Consider the well-organized new head man ready and raring to go.

“The season will be short — six weeks — so player development isn’t going to happen,” he said. “Thus, playing time and teamwork, and enjoyment is the focus.

“Getting the kids to realize what works, what wins, what fails, and the movements/leadership required on the field,” Wood added. “Long term … there’s a noticeable lack of soccer banners in the CHS gym. It’s time to fix that!”

After slamming into state soccer powers such as King’s, Klahowya, and South Whidbey in recent years, the transition to the Northwest 2B/1B League and playing against schools with student bodies much closer to Coupeville’s should be a confidence-booster.

“Now that we’re playing in a proper league we have a great opportunity to develop a winning program and the kids should realize we’re no longer a complete underdog,” Wood said.

“(We) want to develop a long-standing, long-running, successful high school soccer program that is integrated with the community soccer club.”

Wood, a father of three — two of whom have played soccer for CHS — was deeply involved in the Central Whidbey Soccer Club.

Toss in his work as a high school coach (five years with girls and boys), as a select coach (six years with Deception FC), and running the field as a ref, and he comes to his new job with a rock-solid resume.

Soccer has been a big part of his life, from his childhood days — when he also swam, ran, skied, and played lacrosse — to his time with the United States Navy.

Wood continued to patrol the pitch, and was an avid runner, until “my legs gave out,” he said with a laugh.

Now he teaches computer software classes for the Navy, hangs out with wife Jill, the Director for the Washington State Department of Radiation Protection, and gets his soccer thrills coaching and watching his children play.

Wood (right) watches a game with fellow Wolf dad Kelly Keilwitz.

James, currently a freshman at Colorado State University, rattled home six goals across three seasons for the Wolves, while showcasing a powerful kicking leg and a scrappy on-field demeanor.

He lost out on his senior season when the pandemic shut down sports last March, but had already wrapped up a stellar run as a doubles player on the tennis court.

Daughters Eryn (a CHS junior) and Aby (a CMS 8th grader) are both athletes pulling down A’s, keeping their brother’s tradition alive.

Eryn tallied her first varsity soccer goal last season, while Aby currently plays volleyball in the fall as CMS does not have a girls soccer program.

When he’s not coaching, or trying to explain the finer points of the game to us heathens, their dad “loves to cook” and “at one point was a pretty good guitar player … until I started studying soccer.”

Intently preparing for all possibilities on the pitch is part of his game-plan, though he admits sometimes he needs to step back and just take a deep breath or two.

“I am a perfectionist, but I’m continuing to learn that not everyone is, so I can’t expect perfection,” Wood said. “I will make mistakes … oh well, let’s acknowledge that and move forward.”

What he wants from his players is not necessarily perfection, but a desire to strive for that ideal.

“Trust the process! We’re starting a program that I hope will be effective and successful long after we’ve all moved on,” Wood said. “Laying the foundation is a requirement for players in later years.

“Playing a game without your hands and without timeouts is difficult and requires mental thought and a dedication and focus beyond what they’ve given before.

“Dedication to improvement is all I ask; the wins will come as long as we move forward as a team.”

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