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Archive for the ‘Girls Soccer’ Category

Bree Daigneault being Bree Daigneault. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Daigneault prepares to launch a serve.

Some quality time with lil’ sis Noelle.

Bree Daigneault will save the world some day.

She’s that smart, that committed, that kind and caring, that environmentally-conscious, that much of a superhero disguised as a college student.

Two years after she graduated from Coupeville High School, Daigneault is off in the world, doing her best to light a fire under the rest of us, but in a really polite, friendly way.

During her days at CHS, when I used to watch her play soccer and tennis for the Wolves, it often amazed me how chipper she could be, win or loss.

Whether she demolished a foe on the tennis court, or went down after putting up a ferocious fight, when Daigneault departed the scene of the battle, something unusual always happened.

The other young woman playing against her, often a rival she had never met before that day, would walk off the court practically floating on air.

Even when they had just spent two hours trying, and failing, to stop Daigneault from cruising to a victory.

It’s because the player rockin’ the red and black, in between whipping forehands and crushing overheads, always dispensed a constant flow of friendly banter.

Daigneault showered her opponents with compliments, and not a single one ever seemed false or calculated.

That just was, and is, her personality. Open, friendly, receptive to all, and back to the two words which I think probably describe Bree better than any others – kind and caring.

That’s ingrained in her nature, so she complimented her opponent on their shot-making ability (even when she had just short-circuited it), their style, their fashion sense, and their intelligence.

There was one moment, when she faced off with Chimacum’s Renee Woods, sort of the off-Island mirror image of Daigneault, and the universe almost folded in on itself as Compliment Bowl went nuclear.

I don’t remember who won the match, but I do remember it felt so perfect, yet so alien, from my own days smacking tennis balls back at Tumwater High School.

In the late ’80s, the T-Birds tried to paste our own teammates with well-placed shots as much as possible, leaving precious little time to even think about complimenting players from Aberdeen or Olympia.

Probably why none of us went on to cure cancer or solve the world’s environmental problems…

But Daigneault is part of a different generation, and she was always at the forefront of things during her CHS days.

She was a regular presence on the theatrical stage, adept at drama and comedy in equal measure, was a student body rep to the School Board, and finished in the top 10 graduates for the Class of ’17.

Along the way, Bree found time to run the soccer pitch and slide across the tennis court, and did both as a polished varsity vet.

While she might not hold any school records, she was a vital part of both programs, both for her skills and her temperament.

Daigneault could launch shots into the back of the soccer goal, or zing winners down the line before a rival could reverse course and get to the tennis ball.

But, ultimately, she’ll be remembered by sports fans for many of the same reasons she’ll be remembered by theater addicts and education nuts.

Bree is, has been, and will likely always be, one of those truly amazing people who makes everyone else’s lives a little better by gracing the world we share.

Highly-intelligent, graceful, funny, a strong young woman with deep convictions and a burning desire to help others, whether by complimenting them or working to improve their lives, she is a rare one.

Daigneault has pulled in her share of honors, and that won’t stop anytime soon.

Today, we swing open the doors of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and induct her into our lil’ on-line community.

She goes in for her athletic ability across multiple sports, but also for the way she played her games – with fire, with passion, and with deep love and respect for her teammates, coaches, and opponents.

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

In the grand scheme of things, this sports induction will probably be a minor honor for a young woman who will likely win all the real-world honors.

I said all of them!

She’s gonna do big things, change lives for the better.

You can take that to Vegas, bet the mortgage on it, and go to sleep with a smile on your face cause that’s as close to a sure thing as we have.

However her coming years play out, I hope that Bree, occasionally, will look back on her time in a Wolf uniform and smile.

I hope she’s as proud of herself as we all are of her.

And that she realizes with a word here, an action there, she made others smile, made them want to be better, made them want to treat others with as much kindness and care.

If people were paintings, Bree Daigneault would be a masterpiece, treasured and priceless.

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Sarah Wright, softball terminator. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Get you someone who looks at you the way Wright looks at confetti.

The Wright Express comes in hot.

“You’re running … ON ME???? Oh, you foolish child!”

A prairie legend forever.

Sarah Wright is a tornado of fun.

She blows through, rips up the joint, throws the furniture up on the roof, but leaves everyone smiling afterwards.

As I have covered her exploits through the years, from youth sports, to middle school, and then on through four fast n’ furious years of high school, she was as entertaining an athlete as any I’ve ever seen.

Talented? Without a doubt.

But with Sarah, it was always about how much fun she was having out there, whether it be a pressure-packed game at the state tournament, or a random practice on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of the season.

She worked her tail off, fought for success, screamed her lungs out, and got every last scrap of enjoyment she could from her sports.

Volleyball to soccer, basketball to her truest love of them all, softball, Wright never lost the joy little league athletes have, even when she was finally old enough to work as their hitting coach.

Whether she was threatening to eat worms while watching her JV teammates play, laughing until she could barely stand, or feeding seagulls in the parking lot in between state playoff games, running and giggling as the birds pecked at her sandwich, Sarah was, and is, pure giddy joy.

Not that she couldn’t be deadly serious, mind you.

Wright sacrificed her body, time and again, and when it was time to compete, she wanted to win as badly as she wanted to enjoy life in her down time.

As a softball catcher, she bore the brunt of long hours hunched down in the dirt.

Her hands stinging from knocking down wayward balls, her body sore from standing tall and taking the brunt of the explosion when rival players were dumb enough to try and knock her down during plays at the plate.

During her travel ball tournaments, or during Coupeville’s playoff runs, you would see Sarah walk away, looking like a (sometimes very tired) warrior.

Eye black on, smeared by sweat and dirt, her uniform streaked in dust, her mitt in one hand, her mask in the other, she resembled a gladiator coming back from the pits and you knew she left a trail of bodies behind her.

And then, two steps later, she’d suddenly start laughing, and by the time she reached the dugout she was singing in a voice which carried across the field.

I watched Sarah win big games during her career, and take some tough losses, but, in the end, whether her heart was soaring or breaking, she was happy to be in that uniform, to have that mitt and mask, to just play.

She was a solid volleyball player, a take-charge soccer goalie, a pounder in the paint on the basketball court, but she was at home on the softball diamond.

She loved it, and it loved her back.

Knowing Sarah gets to play college softball, even if it will be far away from Coupeville, makes me happy.

It means she gets to keep cracking tape-measure home runs.

Or bashing doubles that she turns into triples, legs pounding as she comes crashing into third-base in a giant cloud of dust, followed by her looking up at CHS coach Kevin McGranahan with a huge grin and saying “I told you I’d make it … Keeeeevvvvviiiiinnn.”

She’ll be zinging throws from behind the plate, sprawled out, firing off the wrong leg and, somehow, still nailing straying runners.

“Another notch on the ol’ gun belt there, Kevin, my boy!”

Sarah stepped onto the CHS softball field and was a starter at the hardest position from day one of her freshman season.

The only thing which kept her waiting that long was the silly Washington state high school rule book, which prevented her from playing varsity high school ball during her middle school days.

Swap rule books with a state like Kentucky and she would have been making rival high school coaches rip out their hair back when she was 12.

Through it all, as Wright came within a play or two of making it to state as a sophomore and junior, then got over the hump as a senior, she was a bonafide leader.

Vocal, the very definition of loud ‘n proud, whether in the dugout, face first in the prairie dust, or running through the parking lot as the Seagull Queen, she will never truly be replaced.

Yes, someone else will be behind the plate next season, and in the years to come.

Hopefully they will have strong careers, and, hopefully, they will enjoy their days on the diamond as much as Sarah did hers.

But you don’t truly replace the legends.

Whether it’s Hailey Hammer, or Breeanna Messner, or Wright, after they’re gone, you can close your eyes the next time you’re in the stands at the CHS diamond, and you will see them still out there playing.

For now, she leaves her field, her town, but she’s not truly going anywhere, because our memories of her will last.

There was never really a doubt Sarah would one day be walking (actually, sprinting while giggling and throwing sandwich bits in the air) into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

I knew it when I watched her play in middle school and little league, and nothing changed my mind as she traveled her journey.

So, after this, you’ll find her at the top of the blog, up under the Legends tab.

And, you’ll find her in the memories of Wolf fans.

Long after her last high school award, her final banquet, the last time she took off a Wolf uniform she wore with genuine pride and joy, Sarah will still be out there, gunnin’ and grinnin’ as the sun sets across the prairie.

Covered in dirt from head to toe, tackling her teammates in joy, standing on the dugout bench, batting helmet jammed backwards on her head, screaming “GET OFF HER, BALL!!!,” having the time of her life.

There is only one Sarah Wright, and we were very lucky to have her.

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Lillian Stanwood (left) is a Coupeville soccer star with a positive attitude, talent for the game, and big hopes for her future on the pitch. (Photo courtesy Amanda Stanwood)

Remember the name Lillian Stanwood.

She’s a young soccer star on the rise, one who already has a classy attitude and a deep desire to take her game as far as possible.

Stanwood, who will be a 7th grader at Coupeville Middle School in the fall, currently plays select soccer for Northwest United.

Along with other Central Whidbey booters such as Genna Wright and Chayse Van Velkinburgh, she spent the weekend in Mount Vernon, playing in the 25th Skagit Firecracker tournament.

Stanwood competes with a team which is an age group above her own.

While her squad didn’t capture a title over the weekend, the young Coupeville star got plenty of time on the pitch.

When she wasn’t playing, she demonstrated the kind of support for other players which will benefit her greatly as she progresses in the game.

“(When she wasn’t playing) she went to the lower bracket games to cheer on her fellow club members without being prompted,” said mom Amanda. “She’s an amazing young lady and constantly displays what team support should look like.”

Stanwood has big dreams for the future, which may start as early as this fall.

With the school’s football program being shuttered, Coupeville Middle School is reportedly preparing to launch a boys soccer program in its place.

So far there hasn’t been word of a similar program for Wolf girls, so Stanwood may try out for the boys team if school officials agree.

She’s also considering playing basketball for CMS (if it doesn’t conflict with her select soccer schedule), but life on the pitch is what drives her.

“She eats, breathes, and sleeps soccer,” her mom said. “She dreams of going to the University of Washington to play, in hopes of someday playing for Reign FC.”

Like I said, remember the name Lillian Stanwood.

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Coupeville’s Genna Wright (on right) helped her select soccer team win a tourney title this weekend. (Photo courtesy Christine Wright)

She’s a winner, every step of the way.

Genna Wright, who is wrapping up her sophomore year at Coupeville High School, is one of the school’s top athletes.

A ferocious goal-scorer on the soccer pitch and the #1 singles player for the Wolves on the tennis court, the youngest in a family full of athletic stars is carving out her own successful trail.

Wright’s latest accomplishment came this weekend, as she helped lead her select soccer squad to a title at the 25th annual Skagit Firecracker in Mount Vernon.

She and her Northwest United teammates finished 3-0-1 while playing in the U18 division.

After opening with a 7-1 rout of the FSC Gunners Friday, NWU nipped the Irish Gators 3-2 the following day.

Wrapping things up Sunday, Wright and Co. fought to a scoreless tie with Bremerton Force, then rebounded to beat the same team 1-0 in the tourney title game.

The toe which produced the lone goal in the finale?

It belonged, of course, to the very-efficient Wright, who knocked in the game (and title)-winning score.

Coupeville High School coach Kyle Nelson has to be happy with the way his top goal scorer is playing during the “off-season.”

When Wright returns to kick off her junior season this fall, she will start play in a tie as the #3 goal scorer in CHS girls history.

With 17 goals to her credit across two high school seasons, she sits even with Lindsey Roberts, who just graduated.

After she eases ahead of her former teammate, Wright can turn to chasing down the only Wolf girls ahead of her on the career chart.

That would be the now-departed Mia and Kalia Littlejohn, who punched in 35 and 33 goals in their CHS careers, respectively.

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Nezi Keiper (middle) gets mugged in broad daylight, but refuses to surrender the basketball. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Keiper is one of the most promising athletes headed to Coupeville High School this fall.

Nezi Keiper is going to be a star.

Let’s just start there, with a little editorial comment.

There’s a strong group of athletes headed to Coupeville High School this fall, especially on the girls side of things, and Keiper, if she wants it, could be the kind of athlete people talk about long after her prep playing days are done.

She’s a standout on the soccer pitch, and a far better basketball player than she might think, one who showed tremendous growth from 7th to 8th grade.

Her time on the gridiron — she more than held her own while playing for the CMS football team — prepared her for the sometimes-vicious battle awaiting her down in the paint, and she showed a nice scoring touch for an 8th grade hoops team which went undefeated.

As Keiper prepares for her freshman year, she’s dead-set on following her love of soccer as far as it will carry her.

“I’ve been playing soccer since third grade,” Keiper said. “Soccer is my favorite sport because it was the very first sport I played.

“My mom got me into it at a young age and I continued to love it,” she added. “I only want to get better at soccer and I think I have a pretty good chance at being a starter on varsity this season if I give it my all.”

Keiper plays shut-down defense, and is a player not afraid to stand up to any foolhardy rivals who dare to crash into her side of the field.

“I’ve heard that I am a good defender and I will risk any body part to stop the ball from going into the goal, except my hands … that’s illegal,” she said.

“Soccer is also something I turn to when I’m not feeling myself, to remind me of who I am and what I am meant to do, be a good athlete and follow my dreams.”

Those dreams include playing on the soccer pitch beyond her high school days.

“My main goal is to make varsity for soccer and be a starter,” Keiper said. “I want to play soccer all four years and hopefully get into a college with a scholarship for soccer.”

As she progresses in her own sports career, she also continues to give back, helping keep the circle of life going for Coupeville sports.

“Being an athlete has its perks if you’re good,” Keiper said. “I’ve heard many people tell me they look up to me when it comes to soccer and I enjoy being able to help younger kids who want to learn how to play.”

While she’s firmly entrenched in the soccer world, she’s wavering a bit on basketball, intending to play her freshman year and then see how it goes.

When I hear Keiper say, “being an athlete includes getting respect from others and from older people if they think you are good,” I agree.

So, here’s another quick editorial comment.

As one of those older people, and one who has seen all your middle school basketball games, and a lot of other games before you hit CMS, let me say one more time — you are a far better basketball player than you may think.

I hope you don’t give up hoops, because with your combination of inside power, ferocious rebounding skills, and a surprisingly light scoring touch, you, Nezi Keiper, can be a star in two sports.

End of editorial comment, cause every young woman (or man) needs to choose their own path, what will make them personally happy, so, whatever route Keiper takes, good on her.

The bright, outgoing soon-to-be-a-high-schooler has a great mind-set (“I have a good attitude when it comes to what I love; win or lose I still have fun”) and is a star in the classroom, as well.

Language arts is her favorite class, she has her heart set on getting into AP English, and writing stirs her soul.

“Writing is something I really enjoy doing,” Keiper said. “I like to write essays about historical events or even just a story about something stupid.

“I do it a lot in my free time and I’m proud of my language arts grade; being able to write essays good is a big part of it.”

On or off the field and court, Keiper knows there is one person she can always look to for guidance and support.

“My mom has definitely helped me become the person I am,” Keiper said. “She has a strong personality and doesn’t give a crap about anything people say or think about her and I respect that and I want to be able to be like that one day.

“I look up to her when it comes to sports because she was a star athlete when she was my age,” she added. “She inspires me and I will need her to get through high school.”

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