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Elizabeth Bitting, seen here with Brynn Parker, is taking the reigns of the CHS cross country program. (Corinn Parker photo)

New coaches as far as the eye can see.

While it’s been almost a full year since a Coupeville High School or Middle School team has competed during the Age of Coronavirus, behind-the-scenes preparations continue.

CHS/CMS Athletic Director Willie Smith has five new coaches lined up, but the actual hires are waiting on two things — a return to play, and the approval of the school board.

Topping the list is Elizabeth Bitting, who is moving from coaching middle school track to running the high school program. At least for a year.

“With no middle school athletics at this point, other than a possible track season, Elizabeth agreed to do the high school cross country team this year,” Smith said.

“We’ll evaluate at the end of the year what level she will coach next year.”

The extremely-popular Bitting, who worked with runners from both schools during the open coaching period, replaces Luke Samford, who moved out of state.

Other new coaches waiting to officially start their duties include Will Thayer, Robert Wood, Cris Matochi, and Ashley Menges.

Thayer, who was originally hired to coach JV softball last spring, only to see COVID cancel the season before it began, replaces Chris Smith as CHS head baseball coach.

Smith moved off-Island after the graduation of his youngest child.

Wood, who previously worked as an assistant coach, steps into the lead role with the CHS boys soccer program.

Kyle Nelson previously coached both boys and girls soccer, but with Coupeville’s move from 1A to 2B, both teams now play in the same season, and he chose to step away from one program.

Matochi will coach middle school volleyball, while Menges, whose unofficial hire had been previously announced, follows Chris Smith as the JV volleyball coach for the CHS spiker program.

With the proposed hirings, the lone position still open on the school district’s web site is for a CHS boys basketball JV coach — which was also previously filled by Chris Smith.

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A small collection of past and present Coupeville coaches.

Richard Nixon wasn’t perfect, but he had his moments.

One of the more unsung accomplishments of his presidency was the creation, in 1972, of a National Coaches Day, which falls each year on October 6.

In his original proclamation, he declared:

“Coaches are highly qualified teachers — in highly specialized fields.

But more than that, they are friends and counselors who help instill in their players important attitudes that will serve them all their lives.”

Today, on the 49th anniversary, take a quick moment to say thanks to the men and women who lead Coupeville’s sports teams.

Most of them do it for very little money, so you know they’re in for the right reasons.

Through know-it-all fans, through wins and losses, through dumb questions frequently asked by reporters like me, through injuries and teen drama, they teach growth, commitment, and an ability to work with others.

They are the backbone of our town’s athletic legacy, and, sometimes, much more.

So, job well done, one and all.

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Chris Smith’s departure this spring opened up three CHS coaching jobs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Looking for a job? Maybe the coaching life is for you.

Coupeville schools currently list five open positions on the district web site, with three being varsity high school head coaching gigs.

Wolf Athletic Director Willie Smith needs to tab new leaders for the CHS baseball, boys soccer, and cross country programs, while also hiring a middle school volleyball coach and a boys high school JV basketball coach.

The baseball and JV basketball positions came open when jack of all trades Chris Smith left Whidbey in the spring.

He had also coached high school JV volleyball, though former Wolf player Ashley Menges has been offered that position.

Her hire has not been officially approved by the school board, however, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shut down all athletic contests since February.

The cross country job opened when Wolf coach Luke Samford and his wife, Hayley, moved to Kansas in May.

Erin Locke accepted a new job in Bremerton around the same time period, opening the middle school volleyball job, while the high school soccer coaching position came open thanks to a quirk.

With CHS dropping from 1A to 2B and returning to its old-school stomping grounds, the Northwest 2B/1B League, the Wolves will play boys and girls soccer during the same season.

Kyle Nelson previously led both programs, but decided to step away from the boys job to focus on the girls team.

 

To apply for a job, pop over to:

https://www.applitrack.com/coupeville/onlineapp/default.aspx?Category=Athletics%2fActivities

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After a long run as Coupeville High School coaches, Amy and David King are still adjusting to “retirement.” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They finally got a real vacation.

When Coupeville High School girls basketball coaches David and Amy King resigned last winter, it brought at least a temporary end to their run as coach “lifers.”

The duo, who put in seven seasons with the CHS hoops program, had also worked with high school softball, baseball, and volleyball, as well as community programs and individual player coaching.

All told, the Kings had been coaching for close to two decades.

That meant celebrating their wedding anniversary at the gym – since it fell during basketball season – and juggling their coaching gigs with real-world jobs.

Now, they’re footless and fancy free (mostly), are coming off their first real vacation since 2001, and are adjusting to a new lifestyle.

As they marinate in a world of possibilities, they took a moment to reflect on life without a clipboard or basketball in hand.

Cause they may be free, but they can never really escape my emails.

So, straight from casa de King:

When we announced our coaching retirement at the end of this last season, it was amazing how many people asked us “how’s retirement?” within a few weeks of that retirement date.

We also had to tell them, we still have our day jobs…

In reality, when a season ends, we (we all know Amy does the majority of the work) take care of inventory, putting things away, turning in our paperwork and locking things up for the off-season.

For basketball, there is a good month between the season ending and the starting of planning for the Hoop-A-Holics fundraiser and team basketball camp.

This year, we still helped with the Hoop-A-Holics fundraiser – making sure the new coaches understood what needed to happen and in what time frame, and we still participated, as the weekend is a lot of fun.

We knew we had retired only because we didn’t have to harass our players and parents for participation and food.

It still didn’t sink in though. It still just felt normal, but with extra help.

Normally, basketball camp would be the week following Hoop-A-Holics.

So the time and effort that would normally go into planning which camp we were going to and getting all the players set to go, arranging transportation and lodging, fundraisers, etc., went into working on a personal vacation towards the end of the summer instead.

We missed going to the camp, but not necessarily all the planning and organization that goes into that week.

Team camp has always been a favorite activity for us, spending time away from the school with the players, working on the team bonding and playing against teams that we would not normally see.

It is so much fun to spend camp time getting to see the girls goofy and together outside of the school season, along with seeing where we need work once the season starts.

Having the incoming players get their feet wet with the returning players and of course them learning about us and us about them.

After camp, there is normally an off time as the gyms are closed for refinishing the floors; but, there is the weight room time and planning for open gyms we would be involved with.

This is probably the one area that we saw a difference.

In years past we would go to work, get off and either head to the gym or home and then to the gym.

This year it was work and to home. No more afternoons/evenings being disrupted by stopping what we were doing to head to the gym.

During summer, we typically would start to review drills to teach skills and what kind of offenses will we think about running during the season, etc.

So, this summer, that extra time has been put into creating a new garden area that deer and rabbits can’t get into, David getting more time on his tractor and making paths in the woods and just a lot of normal day-job work.

We really have been so busy, that we have not had time to miss open gyms.

For me personally (David) I miss the time spent evaluating our teams’ strengths and weaknesses, along with evaluating the teams in our leagues.

The coaching part and seeing growth in the players are high on my favorite things about coaching.

Right up there with that for me is the strategy side of things and providing the tendencies of our team and our opponents. Hours would be spent on this stuff.

So, how is retirement?

😊

We really don’t know yet. It really won’t hit us until October when we aren’t gearing up for the season.

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Amy King first coached Makana Stone in middle school volleyball. “She was all about team and doing her best, even then.” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mckenzie Meyer (front) played many sports, but unfortunately never landed on a high school team coached by King.

I’ve worked with a lot of coaches, but found only one thinking of doing a post-game write-up in poetry form.

Amy King, who has worked with the Wolf volleyball, softball and basketball programs, could be doing a bang-up job writing her own blog.

You know, if she wasn’t already busy with coaching, her real-world job, family life and the million other things she accomplishes while I’m still trying to wake up.

On the road or at home, win or loss, she always delivers crisp info, filled with insight, and this time is no different.

Coupeville’s third-longest tenured coach (trailing just Randy King and Ken Stange), she arrives today to break down the best Wolf players she’s worked with.

So, let me step away and give her the floor.

Aside from being a little busy, I’ve been mulling things over in my head – so many players!

Plus it’s tough coming in from the JV side of things too – many of my people and thoughts matched (husband) David’s.

Best player I’ve coached is, of course, Makana Stone. I echo everything David said about her.

Of course my first experience was the one year she played 8th grade volleyball.

She and Miranda Engle went to camp and when she hit the floor it was all so natural that it was like she had played her whole life.

Great attitude and all about team and doing her best even then.

Which athlete do I wish I could have coached? This is a tough one; I’m thinking McKenzie Meyer.

She ended up being our manager in middle school volleyball, but helped out when we had odd numbers.

She studied what was being shown and just came out and performed during practices. She is very athletic and had better skills than some of the girls who were out there playing.

When it came to high school I had high hopes she would join a team I was coaching.

Most underrated athlete I’ve coached – I have two on this one.

A lot of this comes from who you are playing with — you have those athletes like Lexie or Brittany Black, who stand out, so others are important to the success of a team, but did not always get the glory.

These two didn’t really care about the glory though.

Shawna West and Vanessa Davis are my two.

Both were posts and played hard. They worked hard and were no-nonsense types of players.

Shawna was our original bull in the china shop player. She rarely talked off the court, but her game said it all.

Vanessa was the same; stronger than she might have looked, shy and didn’t talk a whole lot, but without her game, the team would not have gone as far as they did.

Characteristics/intangibles/commitment is by far the easiest question, answered the same as my husband –Breeanna Messner.

She was in the first group of kids I coached in Coupeville, 7th grade volleyball.

Coached her since then in multiple sports, it was all the same. Dedication, hard working, great attitude and the kind of athlete any coach would be happy to have on their team.

Regardless of the sport or who was coaching; she would change positions without question; play where needed.

She was involved in all off-season functions she could participate in and always helped pick up gear; set up gear and never brought or fed into drama.

She had that no-quit attitude, fight and desire in everything she did.

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