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Archive for the ‘Everything changes’ Category

Coupeville High School softball coach Justine McGranahan and grandson watch action unfold during a pre-season intra-team scrimmage. (Photo courtesy McGranahan)

They’re back.

Less than a week after saying it wouldn’t participate in sports until students were back in class, Orcas Island High School has returned to the playing field.

Coupeville athletic Director Willie Smith confirmed Tuesday that the Vikings had “approval to begin athletics.”

That means Wolf softball and baseball regain four games on their combined schedules.

The CHS diamond queens get back a home game March 13 and a road doubleheader March 23, while the diamond men pick up a single road game March 23.

Coupeville softball now sits with a 14-game schedule, the maximum it can have under Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules during this shortened pandemic season, while Wolf baseball has 11 contests.

Both teams open play this Saturday, March 6 with home games against Friday Harbor.

Baseball plays at 11 AM, with softball hosting a doubleheader with games at 11 and 1 PM.

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Coupeville High School girls basketball guru Scott Fox is among the coaches who will work with Wolf middle school athletes as they participate in intramurals during the pandemic. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Sports, uh, find a way.

While Coupeville Middle School athletes will not compete against other schools during the 2020-2021 school year, they will get a chance to stay active.

Athletic Director Willie Smith has pulled together a plan under which CMS students in grades 6-8 will be offered a variety of intramural options, with a mix of clinics and games.

“We are trying to offer our middle school students an opportunity to experience/participate in sports that are offered by us or in our community,” Smith said.

“Our high school coaches have partnered with either our middle school coaches or are working with our community programs to provide a clinic type atmosphere with some games thrown in each week.”

In some sports where CMS does not normally field a program, the school is working with groups such as Central Whidbey Little League or the Central Whidbey Soccer Club.

There is no cost, and students can participate in more than one sport in a season.

The plan calls for each sport to run 2-3 days a week during its season, with one day devoted to games.

“It is a great opportunity for our middle school students to get out and get exposed to some new, fun activities that in a regular year, they may not get to,” Smith said. “We really want this to be successful and have great attendance.”

 

The plan (with coach contacts):

 

SEASON ONE
(March 1-April 3)

Cross Country — Elizabeth Bitting — ebitting@coupeville.k12.wa.us — (**XC starts March 8**)

Flag Football (coed) — Marcus Carr — mcarr@coupeville.k12.wa.us

Girls/Boys Soccer — John Fowler — vicepresident@centralwhidbeysoccer.com

Volleyball — Cory Whitmore — cwhitmore@coupeville.k12.wa.us

 

SEASON TWO
(April 5-May 8)

Boys Basketball — Brad Sherman (bsherman@coupeville.k12.wa.us) and Jon Roberts (jroberts@coupeville.k12.wa.us)

Girls Basketball — Scott Fox (sfox@coupeville.k12.wa.us) and Fred Farris (ffarris@coupeville.k12.wa.us)

 

SEASON THREE
(May 10-June 12)

Baseball and Softball — Gordon McMillan — centralwhidbeyll@gmail.com

Track and Field — Elizabeth Bitting — ebitting@coupeville.k12.wa.us

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Out of 10 Wolf track stars to compete at the 2019 state meet, Ja’Kenya Hoskins is the only one still at CHS in 2021. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Chelsea Prescott is one of five current Wolf softball sluggers who was on the varsity squad when Coupeville last played — at the state tourney May 24, 2019.

650 days.

That’s the gap between May 25, 2019 and March 4, 2021.

The first date is the last time a Coupeville High School spring sports team competed, and the second is the day the Wolf track team is scheduled to host a season-opening meet, signaling the return from the COVID-19 shutdown.

Spring sports were the first major casualty when the pandemic shut down schools in 2020.

Instead of a swan song for Wolf stars such as Scout Smith, Emma Mathusek, and the Toomey-Stout twins, Maya and Sean, fields and ovals remained silent.

While fall and winter sports have not been played in their traditional spots this school year, the hope is that spring 2020 will be the only truly empty season.

Coupeville, and its new mates in the Northwest 2B/1B League, started practice Monday, and spring sports are scheduled to run, with pared-down schedules, from February 22 to April 3.

Fall sports will go from March 29 to May 8, with winter sports expected to cap the 2020-2021 school year from May 3 to June 12.

By the time fall 2021 rolls around, will we be back to “normal?”

No one knows for sure, and, if they tell you they do, they don’t.

But, hope is back, as, masks in place, Wolf athletes return to Coupeville’s ballfields, tennis courts, and track ovals.

Way back on the weekend of May 24-25, 2019, CHS was having a pretty dang good time, with its softball and track teams competing at the state championships.

The diamond dandies, making their third trip to the big dance in 41 years of competition, put together the second-best showing in program history.

The Wolves put up a strong fight against eventual state champ Montensano, came back to thrash highly-rated Deer Park, then fell in a donnybrook with Cle Elum, a play shy of advancing to day two of the tourney.

Nine Wolves collected a hit at state, with 13 girls seeing action.

Mathusek paced the squad with six base-knocks, including three doubles, with Sarah Wright (5), Chloe Wheeler (4), Smith (4), Veronica Crownover (3), Chelsea Prescott (3), Mollie Bailey (2), Nicole Laxton (1), and Coral Caveness (1) all collecting hits.

Izzy Wells, Audrianna Shaw, Mackenzie Davis, and Marenna Rebischke-Smith also played for the Wolves.

Five of those 13 are still eligible nearly two years later, with Prescott, Bailey, and Caveness now seniors, while Wells and Shaw are juniors.

While CHS softball was rockin’ in Richland, Wolf track stars were shining in Cheney.

Coupeville’s Danny Conlisk won state titles in the 200 and 400, just missing the trifecta when he finished second in the 100.

Smashing school records in both of his winning events, the then-senior became just the fifth Wolf to win multiple titles in the same season, joining Natasha Bamberger, Jon Chittim, Kyle King, and Tyler King.

Coupeville also claimed a 2nd in the 400 (Mallory Kortuem), a 3rd in the 100 Hurdles (Lindsey Roberts), and a 3rd in the 4 x 200 relay (Ja’Kenya Hoskins, Maya Toomey-Stout, Roberts, and Kortuem).

Roberts, after taking home three state meet medals in her senior campaign, closed her stellar prep career with eight, the most of any girl in program history.

Of the 10 Wolves who competed in Cheney in the spring of 2019, only one remains at CHS.

Ja’Kenya Hoskins was just a freshman that season, and the upcoming March 4 meet will officially kick off her junior year.

With no state tourney planned for 2021, though, she will have to wait until 2022 for a possible return to Cheney.

Coupeville’s other three spring sports teams fell short of state in 2019, but all had big moments along the way.

The Wolf girls tennis team wrapped things May 14, when then-juniors Avalon Renninger and Tia Wurzrainer were eliminated at the bi-district tourney.

The deadly duo were early favorites to nab a bid to state in 2020, but the pandemic had other ideas.

Wolf baseball closed its season May 4, a 3-2 loss at bi-districts to Overlake the final game (it turned out) for coach Chris Smith.

Coupeville had opened the season with a somewhat-deceptive 0-12 mark, as its hardball squad was a run here, a run there from being above .500.

Things finally clicked into place late in the season, when the Wolves stormed to seven straight wins, including handing arch-rival South Whidbey the loss which prevented the Falcons from earning a league title.

Two starters from the team are still around in 2021, with Daniel Olson now a senior, and Hawthorne Wolfe a junior.

The final CHS spring sports team in ’19 was boys soccer. With the move to 2B, that program now plays during the traditional fall season.

Two years ago, the Wolf booters saw their season also end May 4, after suffering a 3-1 district playoff loss to Meridian.

Coupeville hung tough against the #1 seed from the Northwest Conference, though, especially since injuries had decimated the Wolves.

Players responsible for scoring 31 of the team’s 34 goals were sidelined against Meridian, while starting goalie Dewitt Cole was also unable to play.

The lone Wolf to hit the back of the net against Meridian that day was then-freshman Xavier Murdy, and he’s one of three goal scorers from the 2019 squad who could return in 2021.

Sage Downes and Tony Garcia are also still at CHS.

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Coupeville High School athletes such as Logan Martin (right) can return to action February 22 — a year-plus after COVID-19 shut down prep sports. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Sports are returning to Coupeville High School.

Thursday afternoon, on the one-year anniversary of the last time a CHS team played a game, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee announced five regions will move to Phase 2 next week in his reopening plan.

That includes the North region, which mashes Island County together with Whatcom, Skagit, and San Juan.

With that move, which goes into effect Monday, Feb. 15, all seven schools in the Northwest 2B/1B League will be eligible to play athletic contests.

The NWL plans to start with spring sports — track and field, baseball, softball, and girls tennis — Feb. 22.

A six-week season will run through April 3, with fall (March 29 to May 8) and winter (May 3 to June 12) sports scheduled to follow.

Fall sports for CHS are football, volleyball, girls and boys soccer, cross country, and boys tennis, while basketball traditionally plays in the winter.

NWL Athletic Directors are working on scheduling and transportation, and expect to release schedules for spring sports next week.

At the same time, they will also address whether fans will be allowed at games.

Under current State Department of Health guidelines, athletes in all four spring sports will be required to wear masks while playing.

Cross country and gymnastics are the only sports where athletes are currently allowed to go mask-less while competing, with harriers allowed to drop masks after leaving the starting line.

Inslee’s decision to advance five regions forward means seven of the state’s eight regions will be in Phase 2 as of Feb. 15.

The only region which will remain in Phase 1 is the South Central one, which encompasses Yakima, Kittitas, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, and Columbia counties.

To advance, a region needed to meet metrics showing a decreasing trend in COVID-19 case rates, coronavirus hospital admission rates, ICU occupancy, and positive tests for the virus.

As a state, Washington averaged 2,894 new cases per day as of Jan. 8.

That dropped to 1,327 new cases per day as of Jan. 30, according to figures from the State Department of Health.

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Coupeville gunner Mollie Bailey lofts a shot near the end of the 2019-2020 basketball season. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wolves (left to right) Hannah Davidson, Tia Wurzrainer, Avalon Renninger, and Scout Smith join coach Scott Fox on Senior Night.

You never know.

A year ago today, the Coupeville High School girls basketball team was eliminated from the playoffs, KO’d by a barrage of three-balls off of the fingertips of hot-shooting Meridian players.

As the players and fans departed the CHS gym, until just Wolf coach Scott Fox was left standing in the half-darkened building, it seemed to be a time of transition.

February 11, 2020, said the calendar.

Winter sports were done, with the Coupeville boys hoops team having been similarly knocked out of the postseason a few days before.

It was the end of the road for Wolf seniors Scout Smith, Hannah Davidson, Tia Wurzrainer, and Avalon Renninger — a group which had played together since middle school.

“We fought really hard,” Fox said in the half-light. “Our seniors played their hearts out. They were our backbone and our leaders. I couldn’t be more proud of those girls.”

But, even as basketball faded from sight, the promise of spring sports helped pick up the mood.

Wurzrainer, who had celebrated her birthday that night, earning a huge roar from the crowd with a late-game bucket, was set to join Renninger for a final season of tennis.

Smith would return to the diamond, where CHS was primed to make a run at a second-straight trip to state.

There was even a chance Davidson, who had played softball in little league, might be talked into joining her for one last fling.

The Wolves needed a first-baseman, and she fit the bill — if Scooter could pull off the sweet-talk.

One season ends, another lurks on the horizon. It has been ever so.

As I left the gym, walking across the parking lot on a crisp evening, I coughed a couple of times.

Something I had done for much of the winter, as flu and cold season mixed with sitting crammed into gyms with other Wolf fans — a perfect breeding ground for my annual rite of “gym cough.”

There had been a few news articles about a new virus building in a place called Wuhan, but on Feb. 11, 2020, that was less than an afterthought.

Sports roll on, as they always have, and always will, and going outside to freeze during spring sports would ease the tickle in the back of my throat.

It was ever so … and then it wasn’t.

Very few people alive in the world the night of Feb. 11, 2020 were also alive when the Spanish Flu did its dirty work, so COVID-19 is a new experience for most of us.

The thought which was never present — that a girls basketball playoff loss to Meridian would be the final live high school sports event in Coupeville for a year — came at us fast.

The virus erupted.

Schools closed.

Spring sports vanished without being played.

There were a handful of middle school basketball games played after Feb. 11, before the CMS hoops season was also shut down, but high school sports ended that night.

And now, here we are on Feb. 11, 2021, and they haven’t returned. At least in Coupeville.

There have been some practices, as the COVID rules have shifted over the months, but no seasons, no games, no return to play.

Plans are in place for CHS and its partners in the Northwest 2B/1B League to restart Feb. 22 — just a week and a half from now — with spring sports first up.

Whether that happens depends on a number of factors, including whether Island County continues to get shafted by being lumped together with Whatcom County under Governor Jay Inslee’s new regional reopening system.

In a best-case scenario, a Coupeville High School sports team will compete against a rival at some point this month, whether it’s Wolf baseball, softball, girls tennis, or track and field which draws the first game on a schedule which hasn’t been made public yet.

Worst-case scenario, things drag on, and we lose the entire 2020-2021 school athletic year, tacked on to the loss of spring 2020 sports.

I have no clue, and neither do you.

Unless you’re a NWL Athletic Director like Coupeville’s Willie Smith, to pretend otherwise is pointless.

But at least we know both options, best-case and worst-case, are possibilities, as well as some middle compromise.

Which makes it somewhat easier to deal with. Sort of.

The night of Feb. 11, 2020, we left the gym, headed to our vehicles, wrapped in blissful ignorance.

It was just another game. The end of one season, and the start of another.

Until it wasn’t.

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