Archive for the ‘Hall o’ Fame’ Category

Nezi Keiper, Superstar. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The first time I saw Yetlanezi Keiper play a sport, she was busy making a boy seriously rethink his life choices.

Clad in a Coupeville Middle School football uniform, she had unloaded on a dude who thought he was going to block her, sending her rival sprawling to the grass.

Standing over him, long hair flowing from beneath her helmet, Nezi’s face was a study in calmness.

She wasn’t outwardly mad, but she also wasn’t going to smile at the fellow player she cut in half and left to (metaphorically) bleed out on a muddy patch of grass.

It was one of the most striking moments I have witnessed in three decades of on and off writing about prep sports.

Not because Nezi was a girl, dominating in a sport where girls are rarely made to feel welcome.

But because, in that moment, it was obvious she was a truly special athlete.

She showed no fear.

She asked for no quarter.

She was going to kick your butt on every play.

End of story.

Young Nezi, dominating the gridiron. (Sarah Saunders photo)

Now, over the last six years, as Nezi moved through middle school, then left football behind and played soccer and basketball during her high school days, I’ve seen a different side of her.

In her dealings with others, close friends or casual acquaintances, she remains one of the kindest people you will meet.

And one of the strongest.

Plus, and this is huge, she always answers my messages, sending me tidbits of info after games while bumping along the backroads of America in a school bus.

Whether her team wins big or gets roughed up on the scoreboard, Nezi is solid gold as a sideline reporter.

For someone such as myself, who can be a bit obsessive about wanting to get stories printed the same day a game is played, she has been invaluable.

Being hailed on Senior Night. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

On the field or court, she has never wavered, never made me rethink that first appraisal of her inner fire.

She is relentless as a soccer defender, taking on the best goal scorers in the region time and again, always making sure they will remember the time they unwisely chose to tangle with her.

Nezi is not a dirty player, by any means.

In fact, she goes out of her way not to hurt others and often shows concern for the physical well-being of those she clashes with.

But she is not going to back down. Like ever.

Capable of clearing the back line with a booming kick, Nezi believes every 50/50 ball belongs to her, and legs churning, she will not surrender her patch of turf, no matter how quick or large the foe may be.

If a collision is required, she never shies from contact.

But, at the same time, she’s just as likely, if not more so, to strip the ball and send it flying far away from her net before the shooter realizes they’ve lost control of the play.

“Get outta here!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

When she’s on the hardwood, Nezi brings the same style of play to basketball as she does to soccer.

A ferocious rebounder, when she plants herself under the hoop, good luck on moving her from her appointed position.

One of my favorite photos from Coupeville Sports is one of Nezi going toe-to-toe with a much-taller South Whidbey hoops player during her 8th grade season.

She will not be moved. You can try, but it ain’t happening, skippy.

The Wolves went undefeated that year, and Nezi was a major contributor on both ends of the floor.

Other players may have been set up to be scorers, but she showed a deft touch with the ball in her hands and could sting rival defenses.

But, as on the soccer pitch, Nezi was an absolute rock on defense and that was where she rightfully earned her fame.

Locked in from the line. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

So, here we are in early December, and she doesn’t graduate until June, and yet I’m skipping ahead of the normal schedule a bit. As you’ll see in a few moments.

Nezi chose not to play basketball this season, focusing on school, work, and life, and while her absence saddens me, it’s not about me.

If she’s happy and fulfilled, good on her. That’s what matters.

There are rumors in the air Nezi might pick up a tennis racket this spring and cap her high school days on the court or migrate to track for one go-round.

I hope it’s true, either way.

But if it’s not, Nezi deserves the peace of being allowed to make her own decision, so I’ll go be quiet in the corner after this.

As I do, however, I want to take a moment to put an official stamp on things.

Whether she still has high school sports highlights to craft or not, Nezi long ago punched her ticket to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

She is a special athlete, and an even better human being, and putting her in our digital shrine makes the joint a lot classier.

So, let’s do this now, and not wait until summer.

After this, when you slide past the Legends tab at the top of the blog, that’s where you’ll find Nezi hanging out.

Was there ever a doubt?

No, no there was not.

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Jessica Boling, one of the best and brightest ever to walk the Coupeville High School hallways. (All photos poached from Miss Boling’s Facebook)

In a world of stars, Jessica Boling is the bright, blazing sun.

A talented athlete (and sometimes Videoville renter in her early days), the Coupeville High School grad has gone on to a truly impressive post-Wolf career.

Two college degrees are just the start, as Jessica earned a bachelor’s and master’s from renowned universities.

The first degree, which came in Social Work with a focus on International Development, is from Seattle University.

Her Master’s in Social Work, with a focus on Community Organizing, Policy and Administration, was issued by Boston College.

Ready to unleash volleyball excellence.

While some of us were content to hang around small towns renting DVD’s, Jessica journeyed to Cameroon, where she completed a Fulbright Fellowship.

From there, she’s spent years making Wisconsin a better place.

I mean, go down a list of her accomplishments, which includes her current position as Assistant Deputy Executive Director for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

Jessica is also the co-chair for the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Coalition of Wisconsin, which allows her to help others embrace and celebrate their cultural heritage.

With Coupeville’s superstar driving the train, the AAPI launched “a first-of-its kind statewide coalition to amplify the AAPI voice, build awareness, lead advocacy projects, and raise funding for key initiatives.”

Jessica and Co. also worked to achieve their goal of seeing the Wisconsin Association of School Boards develop an AAPI history and culture curriculum for the state’s public schools.

And we can keep going and going, as Jessica seemingly fills every one of her hours with work in her community.

The former Wolf is a member of the Governor’s Equity and Inclusion Council.

A commissioner for the City of Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission.

A board member for Doyenne, a nonprofit that provides professional development for female entrepreneurs.

Plus, she’s a board member for the National Association of Asian American Professionals and was previously the Director of Operations for an “angel investment” group which helped secure investments for Wisconsin-based startups.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Jessica has been at the forefront of fighting for voter rights and has provided a strong voice in advocating for more help as anti-Asian hate crimes have risen.

The bright, super-talented young woman who once suited up for CHS volleyball and tennis squads has gone on to reach success in the real world that is truly astounding.

That her life’s work has been for the benefit of others is even more impressive.

Coupeville might have been just a small slice of Jessica’s story, but we can still claim her as one of the best to ever grace our community.

Induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame — a digital shrine which exists largely in our minds — will probably rank fairly low on the awards meter compared to some of the hardware she has rightfully earned.

But it’s what we have, a way to let Jessica know we still remember her and we’re very, very impressed watching from afar as she soars.

It’s also a way to put Wisconsin on notice — better appreciate what you have, because what you have is the absolute best.

After this, in our digital world, you’ll find Jessica at the top of the blog, hanging out under the Legends tab with others inducted over the past decade.

Back in the real world, look for where positive change is being made on a daily basis, where all cultures are embraced, and where committed souls fight for a better world.

That’s where you’ll find Jessica Boling.

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Brian Casey and the Golden Locks of Destruction. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Let’s talk about Brian Casey for a moment.

When we do, it’s not all about the gridiron stats — though those were pretty good.

Now certainly, some of our conversation will be about the hair.

Wolf Nation has rarely seen TV commercial-ready flowing golden locks like those which adorn Brian’s head.

Pouring from beneath his football helmet, they were a force of nature onto themselves, capable of making middle-aged men cry tears for the long-lost hair of their own youth.

Doff the helmet, let the man mane tumble loose, and audible gasps echoed throughout the stadium.

So maybe we just induct Brian’s hair into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and leave it at that…

But no, because then we would be leaving his heart behind, and we can’t have that.

Because that’s what makes him truly special, makes him a player Wolf football fans will remember long after memories of the games he played in fade.

Keeping an eye on the action. (Deb Smith photo)

Those who saw Brian work, saw him fight to overcome injuries, saw him offer up every last little bit of effort, sweat, toil, and love for the game, will nod in agreement.

On the field, he was invariably to be found in the middle of the pile, straining always to move his guys forward.

Part of that was due to Brian living large as a lineman.

But a bigger part of that was his burning desire to always be in the thick of the action, to stand tall in the fiery crucible.

He seemed to treasure every moment he had on the field, likely realizing how the violent nature of football often keeps players from getting as much time as they deserve.

But when his body did betray him, Brian didn’t sulk, didn’t choose to sit far away from his teammates, didn’t act too cool for school.

Instead, he was a whirling dervish on the sideline, pounding on his friend’s shoulder pads, bear hugging them as they came off the field, his words of encouragement — raw and full of emotion — spurring them on regardless of the score.

The son of a coach, a member of a family steeped in football lore, Brian earned his shot at gridiron glory, then marinated in the moment.

Through big wins and heartbreaking losses, he always had the look of a young man who was having the time of his life, a battle-hardened gladiator who NEVER asked to come off the field.

Brian could deliver crushing hits, bodies flying in his wake, but he didn’t prance around after a tackle with his team trailing by 20, didn’t do sack dances, didn’t showboat.

Instead, he pulled his helmet back into place, dropped back into position, and hit the line one more time, relentless and committed.

A coach’s son honoring the example set by his dad Brett — one of quiet intensity and ultimate class.

Celebrating Senior Night with the parental units. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Late in his career, in what would turn out to be the next-to-last game of his senior season, Brian led the charge in a muck-encrusted three-overtime loss to Friday Harbor.

The defeat — coming on its home field in miserable weather conditions in which rain poured down like Noah was one of the refs — ended Coupeville’s playoff hopes.

Not that you would have known it from the way Wolf fans kept hollering from the opening kickoff to the moment when a final-gasp fourth-down-and-everything pass fell short.

At the center of things, Brian stood resolute, mud and grass caked from his shoes to his helmet.

By the end, he and fellow linemen like Isaiah Bittner and William Davidson were limping, ragged breath staining the night.

Yet they kept dropping into position, kept churning, kept surging forward, each small battle won another notch in the gun belt.

Brian always played for the name on the front of his uniform, for his teammates, coaches, family, and friends, and never disappointed.

Welcome to graduation city. (Photo courtesy Brett Casey)

While football was his ultimate calling card, it wasn’t his only outlet, with a season of high school track to his name, where he threw the shot put, discus, and javelin.

He was also a man of the stage, appearing in performances with the school’s drama club.

In simple, Brian was (is) a well-rounded dude, and one with a bright future ahead of him as he heads off to pursue post-high school opportunities.

Before he goes, we want to welcome him, as we hinted above, into our little digital shrine for the best and brightest to come through Cow Town.

Today, for his skill, but even more for his heart, we welcome Brian Casey to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find him hanging out with his contemporaries at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

He’ll be easy to spot — just look for the guy with the best hair in town.

A man of many talents. (Photo courtesy Stefanie Ask)

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Caleb Meyer drains another bucket. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Man came back around.

Finishing his prep school days where they began, Caleb Meyer returned to Coupeville just in time to pen the final two chapters in a tale of athletic success.

Videoville, my home away from home for 12 years, may not exist anymore, but for six months it was reborn in our memories as the last heir to Miriam Meyer’s VHS kingdom once again flourished in Cow Town.

Caleb was already a star during his days at Coupeville Middle School, when he was bounding across the basketball court and dominating on the baseball diamond.

He was part of a tight-knit group of young Wolves who were friends off the court and clicked as a unit when repping the same uniforms.

But life has its twists and turns, and Caleb — owner of the curliest locks in Wolf Nation since his uncle Mike kept the shampoo companies flush with cash during his own teen years — ventured away from Whidbey after 8th grade.

Caleb attended Jackson High School in Mill Creek from the first day of his freshman year until early in his senior campaign, though often came back to Coupeville to visit his friends.

And then one day early this past winter, cue his entrance music, because the gang was back together.

Caleb’s return, just in time for the start of basketball season, was like manna raining down from the heavens.

On his way to making a deposit. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

He was that last missing piece for Brad Sherman’s hoops squad — a ballhandler who didn’t flinch under pressure, a tough rebounder, a big-game scorer, and a guy who slapped every butt and bearhugged every teammate as he provided emotional leadership.

In a season where the pandemic altered the roster seemingly from quarter to quarter, much less game to game, Caleb was back with his middle school buddies.

Reunited with X, Hawk, Grady, Logan, and Miles, playing for each other and for the memory of Bennett, the friend they lost too early.

Something magical clicked from the first moment of opening night, with Caleb bringing the ball up-court against Oak Harbor, laughing at the Wildcats futile efforts to play bully ball.

The 2B Wolves stuffed their 3A next-door neighbors, flexing and popping their uniforms as the CHS gym imploded with noise, launching the best season the CHS boys hoops program has seen in decades.

Every night a different hero.

Every night a gym which got progressively more stuffed with bodies, until the rafters shook with the joy.

The first league title since 2002.

The first district crown since 1970.

The first trip to state since 1988, with the Wolves heading to the big dance boasting a 16-0 mark.

District champs! (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Through it all, Caleb was integral.

Vocal and passionate, he never left a teammate on the floor, and never missed an opportunity to lead by example and word.

Hawthorne Wolfe would drain a three-ball and Caleb was there to tousle his hair.

One of the young guns like Alex Murdy or Cole White took an elbow to the face, and Caleb was there, arm thrown around his teammate’s shoulder, simultaneously plotting revenge while also calming down the aggrieved player.

On a team where five or six guys could be the go-to scorer, Caleb finished #2 in points, while taking great delight in being the dude who made the picture-perfect dish to set up a different guy scoring.

In a season where it truly seemed to be about team over self, he walked the walk, talked the talk, and marinated in the joy.

That continued as Caleb and Co. headed outside for track and field, where he spent much of the season ranked among the best in 2B in multiple events.

“We have launch!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

He competed in six events as a senior — three sprints, two relays, and the high jump — and went out on an emotional high.

Teaming up with Dominic Coffman, Reiley Araceley, and Aidan Wilson, Caleb closed out his high school days at the state meet in Cheney, running a leg on a 4 x 100 relay unit which claimed 2nd place.

That helped the Coupeville boys finish 7th in the overall team standings.

Kings of the oval. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

And now, the school year is done, sports are on vacation, and Caleb has made the graduation walk side-by-side with the kids he grew up with.

Like big sis McKenzie, the path to future success is wide open.

Caleb, while a splendid athlete, is a better human being — a whip-smart, kind yet strong young man.

Why, he could be the Meyer who one day brings Videoville back to its former glory!

Hello, hello, is this thing on…

But anyways, back in reality, we’re here today to induct Caleb into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, where he’ll join McKenzie inside our hallowed digital shrine.

They’ll be up there at the top of the blog, hanging out with Uncle Mike and Aunt Megan, under the Legends tab.

Everyone has a different journey, and while Caleb ended up only putting in two seasons in a Coupeville High School uniform, it was plenty of time to have the kind of impact worth honoring.

Quality over quantity every time.

Caleb and Hawthorne Wolfe exit in style. (Morgan White photo)

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Xavier Murdy, the modern-day gold standard. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Now, it’s very likely Xavier Murdy knew what his personal stats were.

He just didn’t seem to waste much time obsessing over them.

What mattered most to the Class of 2022 grad was whether his team came out ahead in the end.

That was what earned the biggest of his grins, as he basked in the afterglow of everything he and his friends accomplished.

Like Coupeville all-timers such as Hunter Smith and Sean Toomey-Stout before him, Xavier has the kind of mentality which would allow him to be a star in any decade.

Old-school guys, whether they hail from the ’70s or the ’50s, would appreciate his utter commitment to putting team above self, to the way he works his rear off, and the way he always stops to acknowledge his fan base.

Xavier’s young cousins, and their friends and teammates, all clambered for his attention.

Like The Man himself, Keanu Reeves, does on an international basis, the lanky Wolf superstar always gave of himself, even when at work.

A smile to the stands, a high five delivered to his coach’s young sons, a hug and a conversation for his niece — a generation of Coupeville kids will head into their own athletic heyday having learned being a good dude is the way to be.

Across the past six years, and numerous teams, Xavier carved out a considerable body of work — one appreciated by coaches, teammates, fans, and even rivals.

There was football and tennis for a moment, and then the three sports he settled on.

On the soccer pitch he was a calm and composed team leader who earned First-Team All-League honors, his impact felt both as a scorer and as a guy willing to do all the dirty work to make sure teammates such as his brother Alex reached their full potential.

First to the ball, always. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

When spring rolled around, Xavier anchored the Wolf baseball team as a tough-nosed catcher who always had a good word for everyone, but also wasn’t afraid to stand in the line of fire and absorb pain while blocking the plate from incoming runners.

He swung a solid stick, was a smart base runner, and again received notice from league coaches when it came time to tally up year-end honors.

But it was on the basketball court where Xavier soared the highest.

Part of a tight-knit band of Wolf players who worked their way up a daunting hill to achieve greatness as seniors, he was the guy who did everything.

Ready to attack. (Mandi Murdy photo)

Xavier could torch the nets, three-balls droppin’ like manna from the heavens, but it wasn’t until his senior season, when Covid threw things asunder, where he really showcased his offensive skills.

He finished his prep days with 482 points, putting him #51 all-time for a program which began play in 1917, his scoring totals going up each season.

But his game was always about much more than just making the nets flip.

Xavier seemed determined to snatch every rebound in sight, come up with every loose ball, take on the toughest defensive assignment, and do all the nitty, gritty little things which are often the difference between wins and losses.

The Marauding Murdy boys delivered 32 minutes of defensive Hell, giving rival ballhandlers PTSD as Xavier and Alex forced turnover after turnover to spur the high-flying Wolf attack.

“You shall not pass!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

X faced off with guys who were taller, guys who outweighed him, but none who were as mentally and physically tough.

Sliding his wiry body into tiny gaps, he had an uncanny knack for always getting to the ball, and once the orb was on his fingers, rarely would he lose control of it.

A smart passer who often seemed to take his greatest delight in setting up others for buckets — especially if the guy slapping the ball home was his brother — Xavier is a case study in what it means to be a selfless player.

Fighting through a pandemic, with multiple Covid tests, masks, and players often yanked from the lineup at the last moment, Murdy and Co. crafted a hoops season for the ages this past winter.

The checklist is impressive.

The first league title for a CHS boys basketball team since 2002.

The first district crown since 1970.

The first trip to the state championships since 1988.

Marinating in the moment. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Xavier earned well-deserved MVP honors from Northwest 2B/1B League coaches and became the first Coupeville male hoops star to be tabbed for the All-State game in a decade-plus.

His performance at that all-star contest, where he rattled the rims for 10 points thanks to offensive rebounds, steals, and hustle plays, was vintage X.

A few of his big-name All-State teammates seemed to be preening for the cameras after every shot — even when they clanked the ball off the front of the rim.


One of the few guys on the floor playing full-out defense, taking advantage of every bit of floor time awarded, and earning respect from coaches, who, prior to the game, couldn’t have told you where Coupeville was even located on the map.

As Wolf boys basketball builds a new legacy of success, evoking the play of legends who strode the hardwood in the ’70s, Xavier provided a template for the players coming up behind him.

You might not all become a two-time CHS Male Athlete of the Year like he did, but you can strive to reach for the high bar of success he set.

Hard work isn’t always fun, but making the Coupeville gym rock again for the first time in years makes the toil and sweat worth it.

Be like X.

Play your heart out. Play for team. Play for the name on the front of the jersey.

Doing that has carried Xavier to a destination known as the Coupeville Sports Hall of Fame, and the decision to grant him entry to that hallowed digital shrine is a remarkably easy one.

After this you’ll find him hanging out at the top of the blog under the Legends tab, awaiting the likely arrival of his brother a year from now.

You make the joint classier for your presence, Xavier.

Sharing Homecoming honors with Noelle Daigneault. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

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