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Kiara Contreras, a freshman at 1A Coupeville High School, could play her final two seasons in 2B. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Five Wolves seen in this photo could be playing for CHS during the 2020-2021 school year, when sweeping changes to the state classification system take affect.

The earthquake hit, and now the aftershocks will play out over the next 20 months.

As expected, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Representative Assembly passed two amendments Monday at its Winter Coalition meeting in Renton.

Now, the biggest question for locals becomes, will Coupeville continue to be one of the smallest 1A schools in the land or will it finally return to 2B for sports competition.

From 2007 to today, the WIAA has attempted to keep the number of schools in each classification (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B, 1B) balanced, which has often meant forcing schools such as CHS to remain a slot above where their student body count would dictate.

That changes now, as the first amendment passed Monday returns the state to using hard-number caps, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.

At that point, the new, set-in-concrete numbers will be:

4A — 1,300+ students
3A — 1,299-900
2A — 899-450
1A — 449-225
2B — 224-105
1B — 104-1

The counts, which cover students in grades 9-11, happen during the 2019-2020 school year.

After a school makes its count, the second amendment could reduce the number of students it has to claim.

Any schools who serve more free and reduced lunches than the state average (currently 43%), will shave their enrollment numbers equal to the percentage they are over.

So, if, say, 51% of a school’s lunches are free and/or reduced, that school will take 8% off its enrollment number before being classified.

Schools can only drop down one classification.

Current 2B and 1B schools are not covered by the second amendment after they argued it “would negatively impact competitive balance in the state’s smallest schools,” according to a Seattle Times article.

Both amendments, which had considerable support, are aimed at improving competitive balance between the “haves” and “have not’s” in the state.

Similar arrangements have been used in states such as Oregon, Minnesota, and Ohio.

The lone argument in recent years for forcing each classification level to have virtually the same number of schools was it gave schools equal access to qualifying for state championship tournaments.

Under the hard caps, if one division ends up with, say, 20 more schools than another, that could be an issue.

To deal with that, the WIAA is drawing up plans to expand or contract the standard 16-team state tourney based on how many schools are in a given division.

More schools, you could have a 24-team field.

Less schools, a 12 or eight-team draw, or divisions could be combined, as is already done for sports such as tennis, where 1A, 2B, and 1B compete in the same tourney.

While it’s not guaranteed Coupeville drops to 2B, it has been well under the 224-student barrier in both recent counts and future projections.

For now, the rest of this school year and the 2019-2020 school year are set, with CHS remaining in the 1A North Sound Conference with South Whidbey, King’s, Granite Falls, Sultan, and Cedar Park Christian.

In the last official student count, which set classifications for 2016-2020, Coupeville trailed four of those five schools by 120 or more students.

Cedar Park had just a 22-student advantage over CHS in that count, but, as a private school, it, like King’s, plays by a separate set of rules from public schools and can bring in student/athletes from outside its boundaries.

Once the new classifications are set, they will be in place for four years, running from 2020-2021 to 2023-2024, with schools being able to appeal their placements after two years.

Things could get wild across the state, if numerous schools move up or down, which could cause multiple leagues to crumble, expand, contract or be born.

If Coupeville moves back to 2B, where it lived for decades, it would likely return to its old home, the all-public school Northwest League.

That conference currently houses 2B schools La Conner, Darrington, Concrete, Friday Harbor, and Orcas Island, as well as 1B Mount Vernon Christian.

Top the 224-student limit and life as the smallest, scrappiest 1A school will continue, though the landscape could be altered.

Of Coupeville’s current league mates, Granite Falls was a 2A school just a second ago, and could have to return.

A preliminary version of the free and reduced lunch amendment would have forced swanky private schools such as King’s and Cedar Park to automatically add a certain percentage to their student counts.

That would have likely carried them up to 2A, but the wording was changed before the amendment was passed, and private schools will operate the same as public schools.

On this one thing, at least.

The Olympic League, where CHS just ended a four-year run, could crumble with the new numbers.

The 2A division has several schools expected to now be 3A, while the 1A division could completely disappear.

Of the three 1A schools the Wolves left behind, Klahowya is expected to move back to 2A after just slipping under the limit in recent years, and then there’s Chimacum and Port Townsend.

The former is close to being 2B like Coupeville, but there has also been talk the two schools, who already have agreements for sports such as tennis, wrestling and, starting this spring, softball, will unite for all athletic competition.

If they did, they would have to add both student bodies together and likely compete at the 2A level.

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If Coupeville moves down from 1A to 2B, only one of these athletes, freshman Xavier Murdy (right), could still be playing when it happens. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Change may be coming, but we’ll have to wait a bit for its full impact to hit.

When the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association meets Jan. 28 for its winter coalition, the group’s 53-member Representative Assembly will vote on two amendments which could radically alter how schools are classified for sports competition.

Rule 4.2.0 will “establish hard line numbers for high school classifications” while rule 4.3.0 “adjusts enrollment figures based upon percentage of free and reduced lunches.”

A 60% “yes” vote is needed to pass, and all indications are both amendments will easily clear that threshold.

If that happens, it could be huge for Coupeville High School. As one of the smallest 1A schools in the state, CHS could likely move down to 2B, where it resided for many decades.

But, and this is important, the WIAA confirmed this week that any changes to the classification system will not take effect until the 2020-2021 school year.

What does that mean for CHS athletes?

If you’re a current senior or junior, you will finish your prep athletic career in the 1A North Sound Conference. No one and done, it’s our home for at least two school years, this current one and the next.

After that, everything is in play.

The next classification count happens this year, either way, with each school tallying up students currently in grades 9-11.

If the second amendment passes, administrators will look at the state average for free and reduced lunches, and see how their school stacks up.

In an effort to better balance the field between rich (often private) schools and ones who struggle financially, schools above the state average would get to reduce their student body count by the same percentage.

That could allow some schools to drop down a classification, though they can’t jump more than one level.

After that, if the first amendment passes, the WIAA will no longer try to balance the number of schools in each classification, as it has for the past decade-plus.

That’s huge for Coupeville, which had 2B numbers during the last count in 2016, but was pushed back up to 1A in the effort to keep balance between the divisions.

CHS, after losing 10% of its student body in two years, appealed in 2018 to drop down, but was denied.

If hard line numbers are used, this is how the classification system will look in 2020:

4A — 1300+ students
3A — 900-1299
2A — 450-899
1A — 225-449
2B — 105-224
1B — 1-104

Once a school does its count, and uses the adjustment for free/reduced lunches (if above the state average), they will know where they sit, and no longer have to wait to see if they are bumped for “parity.”

Those classifications remain in effect for four years, and schools can appeal their status during the second year.

Schools can still opt to play up a classification, such as Archbishop Murphy currently does, competing as a 2A school while having a 1A-level student body count, but can’t opt down.

If CHS lands between 105-224 students, which appears possible, it would likely return to the Northwest B League in 2020, rejoining Concrete, La Conner and other foes it faced on a regular basis up through the ’80s.

If not, the 1A North Sound Conference, which Coupeville joined in 2018 after four seasons in the 1A Olympic League, will still be there waiting, though its current six-team look could change.

Granite Falls only recently slipped down from 2A to 1A after an appeal, while King’s and Cedar Park Christian, as private schools, won’t be helped by the free/reduced lunch amendment, and could actually be hurt.

There has been discussion about going the opposite way with private schools, automatically adding a certain percentage to the student body count. Whether that will become a reality is one of many things to keep an eye on if the amendments pass.

While going with hard line numbers seems like an ideal choice, the WIAA resisted for some time because of the likelihood some classifications would become substantially bigger than others.

If one classification has, say, 20 more schools than another, than it’s harder for each school at the more-crowded level to earn a berth at a state tournament.

The compromise is, if the amendments pass, state tourney fields will no longer have to be the same size at all levels.

If we’re operating under hard line numbers in 2020, here’s how it breaks down:

84+ schools in a classification = 24-team state tourney
69-83 schools = 20-team state tourney
53-68 schools = (traditional) 16-team state tourney
37-52 schools = 12-team state tourney
20-36 schools = 8-team state tourney
19 or less schools = combine with the division above for state tourney

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A new concession stand at Mickey Clark Field is behind that window, replacing the old snack shack seen on the other side of the field. (Scott Losey photos)

Wolf fans can enter to the left of the building, instead of walking around the back and using a side entrance.

Work was also done on the elementary school and the entrance to the new stadium, along with permanent bathrooms being added.

So, faster than the stadium.

A new concession stand/ticket booth, permanent bathrooms and main entrance to Mickey Clark Field have been finished, and will be in use for Friday night’s Coupeville High School Homecoming football game.

Instead of wandering down the backside, weaving past the elementary school and coming in through a side entrance, as fans have done at the first three home games this year, you can now walk in straight off the CES parking lot like in the “olden” days.

Only now, you won’t have to walk clear across the football field/track to get to the snack shack, and the Porti-Potties are an afterthought, and not your only choice.

CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith confirmed the change Friday morning, using a surprising amount of exclamation points (for him). The influence of Coupeville Sports grows.

“Yes, we are good to go to use the main entrance this evening!!” he said in a short press release, then bounded away to deal with the other 10,000 issues on his schedule.

Konni Smith, who runs the concession stands, which benefit CHS Class of 2019 students like daughter Emma, was equally thrilled to make the jump from the old snack shack to her new digs adjacent to the home stands.

“I loaded up with food! Wahoooo!!”

Then she bounded away to deal with the other 10,000 issues on her schedule.

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A fraction of the athletes who have powered Coupeville Sports over the past six years.

Best part of a blog anniversary? Getting a giant cookie from your supporters.

It’s still the middle of the summer.

That was the first sentence to be published here on Coupeville Sports, way back in the Mesozoic Era, or Aug. 15, 2012, if we’re being precise.

And now, here we are, six years and 6,258 articles later.

I’ve survived being temporarily banned from the CHS press box, attacked by a South Whidbey blog which belly-flopped and floated away after publishing two whole articles, and twice flirting with bringing this whole endeavor to a premature end.

Fueled by countless tasty goodies offered up from faithful fans, transported by “the car that wouldn’t die” (until it did last week…), I endure.

And fight on, from world headquarters on the shores of Penn Cove, publishing random articles at 2 AM, while using a computer powered by three imaginary hamsters on a treadmill (Thaddeus, Leopold and Lil’ Skippy).

If you look back at the history of Coupeville Sports, it began in anger, but has (hopefully) morphed into something bigger and better over time.

I was cheesed off in Aug. 2012.

The Coupeville Examiner, where my words appeared for 15 years, through thousands of movie columns and sports stories, had just sold itself to a Canadian behemoth which already owned the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record.

Shortly after that lil’ bit of journalistic seppuku, all of my Examiner articles forever disappeared off the internet.

Having been paid very little for my freelance work (which was fine and my choice, because at the time I bought fully into the idea we were fighting the “Evil Empire”), my by-lined stories were all I had.

And then poof. They were gone, short of tracking down and buying a print copy of every back issue of The Examiner.

Whether it was a truly accidental data entry error, or an intentional, thought-out middle finger from a giant corporation, doesn’t really matter.

It was enough to goad me into launching my own news outlet, and, at least in the early days, keep me hammering away at my keyboard.

I was much chippier in the earlier days of Coupeville Sports, starting tiffs with athletes, coaches and supporters from South Whidbey, ATM and King’s, to name but a few.

Some of it was entertaining, much of it was good for fueling readership growth, but ultimately, it wasn’t the path I needed to be on.

There’s a reason other local blogs like Island Politics have vanished from the scene. If all you pump out is bile, eventually you’ll choke to death on it.

And, while Coupeville Sports was, at worst, .02% of an equal to the slimy cesspool the IP morons created in their basement/dungeon, I’ve tried to go in more of a positive, constructive direction as I (slowly) mature.

Most days, anyway…

Now we’re heading into year #7, and league #3. From the Cascade Conference to the Olympic League and now on to the North Sound Conference, at least for a bit.

Coupeville is among the smallest 1A schools in the state and there is a solid chance the Wolves will be on the move again shortly, most likely down to 2B.

For at least one year, though, it’s reunion time, as CHS links back up with former rivals South Whidbey, King’s, Granite Falls, Sultan and new foe Cedar Park Christian.

Football practice kicks off today, with all the other fall sports set to open this coming Monday. Middle school sports start soon after.

A new school year brings with it the possibility of new stars, new story-lines, new surprises.

Having gotten past a slight bump in the road recently, I am recommitted and re-energized, and, as always, deeply appreciative of my readers.

Your support, both financially and emotionally, is what drives me to keep going, documenting the ever-unfolding story of athletics on the prairie.

Coupeville Sports, from day one to wherever that finish line may be, will remain free to read. No pay wall, ever.

And while I may be the one writing the blog, it remains very much a community effort.

The more info you pass on to me, the more complete my coverage can be. If there is ever a question, “Should I tell him about…” the answer is always “Yes, you should.”

When it comes to what appears on Coupeville Sports, if you like something, say something. Maybe just as importantly, if you don’t like something, say something.

Praise or criticism, free food or angry glares, it all provides me with a compass to use as I chart our journey.

Where the path we’re blazing is going to end up, none of us know. But it should be interesting getting there.

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Gaze upon the logo for Coupeville’s new league. (Photo courtesy Scott Sifferman)

We’re going home again. In a way.

After four years in the 1A Olympic League, Coupeville High School is reuniting with four old rivals (and one new one) to launch the 1A North Sound Conference when the 2018-2019 school year begins this fall.

The new league is comprised of refugees from the imploded 1A/2A Cascade Conference, where the Wolves spent eight years from 2006-2007 to 2013-2014.

Gone are the 2A schools (Archbishop Thomas Murphy, Lakewood and Cedarcrest), so on with the (slightly) more-balanced party.

Coupeville reunites with South Whidbey, King’s, Sultan and Granite Falls, while coming face-to-face with the school which replaced it in the Cascade Conference, Cedar Park Christian-Bothell.

But, since no current Wolf athlete ever played in a Cascade Conference game, it might be a good idea to offer a refresher on just who Coupeville’s new league mates will be.

The new league:

http://www.nscathletics.com/index.php?pid=0.60.0.0.200

 

Cedar Park Christian-Bothell

Location: Um … Bothell

Public or private: Private

Student body count (2016 WIAA counts): 249.38

Established: 1982

Mascot: Eagles

Colors: Blue and gold, purple, yellow

Team state titles: Girls Soccer – 2001, 2002, 2003; Softball – 2003

Fast facts: The main campus for a private Christian school (preschool-12th grade) which also has sites in Everett, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Mill Creek; affiliated with the Assembly of God church; one-year tuition for high school student – $9,992; hired former Bellevue football coach Butch Goncharoff, who won 11 state titles before a Seattle Times investigation forced WIAA to (very briefly) punish Bellevue for numerous alleged improprieties.

 

King’s:

Location: Shoreline

Public or private: Private

Student body count (2016 WIAA counts): 354.38

Established: 1950

Mascot: Knights

Colors: White, red

Team state titles: 51 spread across multiple sports. I’m not listing them all.

Fast facts: Before turning to education, site housed a tuberculosis sanitarium; rumors abound that “some of the damp tunnels connecting buildings are still haunted by the ghosts of TB victims;” was known as King’s Garden until ’79; one-year tuition for high school student – $15,950; 98% of its students go on to higher education, while other 2% are no longer welcome home for Thanksgiving.

 

Granite Falls:

Location: Um … Granite Falls

Public or private: Public

Student body count (2018 WIAA appeal): 367.25

Established: 1896

Mascot: Tigers

Colors: Black, orange

Team state titles: Baseball – 2006

Fast facts: Known as “The Gateway to the Mountain Loop;” originally used by Native Americans to portage their canoes between fishing grounds; had a gold rush in 1889; had runs as both a mining and logging town; celebrates Railroad Days first Saturday in Oct.; former Coupeville assistant Alex Heilig coached GF football for one season in 2015, went 1-9.

 

South Whidbey:

Location: Langley

Public or private: Public

Student body count (2016 WIAA counts): 358.38

Established: 1981 (*previously Langley High School)

Mascot: Falcons

Colors: Blue and white

Team state titles: Boys Cross Country – 2000; Girls Golf – 2016

Fast facts: Has lost four of last six football games to Coupeville, with one former Falcon coach (a two-time loser) purposefully denting The Bucket, the trophy which is held by the winner; the snarky chant “Drive home safely,” directed at rival fans after South Whidbey wins, is both kind of annoying and kind of funny; the part of the Island where all the weird murders happen (seriously, go do a Google search); admittedly, a pretty nice school, with several athletes and coaches who have been very generous to me — Maia Sparkman, Oliana Stange, Kody and Hayley Newman, Tom Fallon, Mark Hodson, Mary Zisette and Lewis Pope to name a few.

 

Sultan:

Location: Um … Sultan

Public or private: Public

Student body count (2016 WIAA counts): 347.13

Established: 1888

Mascot: Turks

Colors: Navy, white, Columbia blue

Team state titles: Girls Soccer – 2002

Fast facts: Town named (sorta) for Snohomish Indian chief Tseultd, whose name was changed to Sultan John by white settlers; hosted the Sky River Rock Fest and Lighter Than Air Fair in 1968, which brought Richard Pryor, The Grateful Dead, Santana and “20,000-plus hippies” to town; former Turk basketball player Cooper Beucherie, he of the white boy dreadlocks, once kicked a chair into about the 12th row of the stands after being ejected from a basketball game at Coupeville. I miss the dude – he was entertaining.

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