Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Hall o’ Fame’ Category

Coupeville track stars Jacob Smith (left) and Danny Conlisk made sure the whole state learned their names. (Dawnelle Conlisk photo)

Sometimes, I can be a real idiot.

But, sometimes, my being a real idiot actually works out in the end. Hopefully.

As I induct people into the Coupeville Sports Hall of Fame, the biggest stumbling block is I’m a one-man crew, in charge of nominating, voting (there are some fierce battles…), and writing the stories.

Which is my way of sort of explaining why sometimes a slam-dunk inductee doesn’t go in as quickly as they should.

Cause I’m an idiot, I get busy with other stuff, and I completely space on things.

A year ago, when he graduated from Coupeville High School after compiling one of the best track and field careers in school history, Jacob Smith should have been added to my lil’ digital hall o’ wonders.

Like immediately, don’t pass Go, don’t collect $200.

So, imagine my surprise this morning when I was scanning the list of inductees, and realized, to my growing horror, that he wasn’t there.

But, my complete and utter failure sort of works out, because now, when I induct him today, he can go in along with his running mate, Danny Conlisk, in a two-for-one special.

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

It’s appropriate they go in together, because the duo pushed each other on the oval, and exhibited many of the same qualities during their times in a Wolf uniform.

They were both fast to begin, but worked relentlessly, together and apart, to rise to new heights.

Calm, easy-going, low-key, quiet leaders, they let their fleet feet do the talking for them, and made the world at large stand up and notice.

Coupeville, a cow town on a rock in the middle of the water up in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t always get the same respect as King’s or Lynden Christian or a million other “legacy” schools do.

The Wolves have to earn it, and from Kyle and Tyler King to Makana Stone and on to Smith and Conlisk, track and field has been the one arena where other schools and fan bases have had to accept that CHS can get all up in their business.

And man, did Jacob and Danny make them sit up and take notice.

The duo combined to win 12 state meet medals – six apiece – shattered school records left and right, and were as dynamic on the oval as any pair in Wolf track history.

Smith is one of just two CHS athletes to win four medals at the same state meet, doing so during his senior season.

Finishing 2nd in both the 100 and 200, he also added a leg on 4 x 100 (7th) and 4 x 400 (5th) relay teams which battled down to the wire.

Toss in a 4th in the 200 as a sophomore, and a 3rd in the same event as a junior, and, despite having the most-common last name in America, everyone knew his name down in Cheney by the time he was finished.

An explosive runner who chased down rivals as mom Deb out-shouted the rooting sections of entire schools by herself, Jacob made every race a must-see moment.

His fellow inductee, to be honest, was not someone I originally would have seen going into the Hall o’ Fame.

I have vague memories of Conlisk competing in middle school – a quiet, skinny kid loping around the track.

Did I think he would one day be a two-time state champion, hold school records in the 100, 200, and 400, and qualify for the national Junior Olympics twice?

Not a chance.

Cause I’m an idiot. Or at least a really-bad talent scout.

Once Danny found his groove, though, he became the ultimate make-good story.

What we couldn’t see, at least at first, was how powerful his work ethic was going to be, and how huge his heart was.

Whether running cross country or track, Conlisk just kept getting better and better, ending his prep career by breaking an eight-year state title dry spell for CHS.

This spring, he roared to wins in the 200 and 400 at the 1A state meet, and finished half a step from making it three titles in three races, finishing 2nd in the 100.

It was the first time since 2010 that a Wolf had stood atop the podium, with Conlisk becoming just the ninth individual CHS athlete in 119 years to earn the title of state champ.

Toss in two medals from his junior season — a 2nd in the 400 and a 5th in the 4 x 400 — and one more from his sophomore campaign (5th in the 400), and he and Smith finish tied with Natasha Bamberger and Chad Gale for the fifth-most state meet medals in school history.

But while the medals stand as a testament to their achievement, both Jacob and Danny will be remembered for far more than their hardware.

They are proof, to every current and future Wolf, that hard work and utter commitment can carry you to the mountain top, and that once there, you don’t have to back down just because someone else has a fancy uniform from a “name” school.

You can rep Coupeville and be the best, and Smith and Conlisk are living proof of that.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Kyle Rockwell sails in and snags a rebound during his days as a three-sport athlete at Coupeville High School. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Rockwell, seen here with Wolf baseball coach Chris Smith, joins older sister Maria as a member of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

Kyle Rockwell had a senior season for the ages.

Before he graduated back in 2018, the one-time Wolf achieved a rare trifecta, pulling off the signature play of his team’s season, and doing it not once, not twice, but three times.

When you look back at Coupeville High School male athletics during the 2017-2018 season, the school’s final in the Olympic League, it would be hard to argue anyone made more of an impact than Rockwell did.

Now, I’m not saying Kyle was the best athlete in a CHS uniform. That was Hunter Smith, absolutely.

But Rockwell was a superb complementary player, the kind of durable, high-achieving support crew you need, and want.

And, given the chance, he stepped up three times, once each in the fall, winter, and spring, and made a play which will linger for a long time in the minds of Wolf fans.

For that, for overcoming every obstacle which has come his way, and for being the dude everyone cheered for thanks to his eternally positive attitude and easy-going nature, we’re rewarding him.

Mr. Rockwell joins his older sister, softball supernova Maria, in the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, and, after this, will be found at the top of the blog under the Legends tab.

Part of this honor stems from Kyle’s resiliency, as he has been blind in one eye since childhood, yet never let that slow his roll.

Rockwell has been an athlete since day one, though it took awhile for his parents, understandably, to let him enter certain arenas.

He finally got the OK to play football as a senior, and it was there he made his first big-time play.

All season long he was a … rock … on the line, but in the home finale, he grabbed the spotlight, reflected it up at himself, and sang a few bars of My Way.

Ripping through would-be blockers like a (very large) knife slicin’ ‘n dicin’ walking, talking, non-blocking pats of butter, Rockwell destroyed a rival running back as he tried to come around the edge.

Shoulder met stomach, ball flipped free.

Then, staying as calm and cool as you can after you’ve just knocked a fool out of his cleats, the guy in the Wolf uniform lunged forward and scooped the now-free football into his chest before half of the other team landed on his head.

It was a beautiful play, full of precision and fury, and yet just the start for Rockwell during his year of glory and achievement.

Skip forward to basketball season, and Coupeville pulls off the biggest upset of the season, again in the home finale.

Facing first-place Klahowya, Rockwell and Co. pull off a 59-54 thriller on Senior Night that reignites memories of former Wolf basketball glory.

Hunter Smith goes off for a career-high 35 to spark CHS, but it’s Rockwell with the clincher.

Caught in a traffic jam in the paint, surrounded by three KSS players, he flexes his biceps to create a shock wave, then rips the ball free from an Eagle, spins and powers back up for the game-clinching layup.

The Klahowya players, sprawled on the court, can do little more than bow their heads to their conqueror, as Smith, Joey Lippo, Hunter Downes, and Cameron Toomey-Stout come charging in to group hug all the air out of Rockwell’s body.

And yet, there’s more.

Spring brings with it baseball, Rockwell’s longest-running sport, and our urban legend caps his prep career with one more play, his best yet.

Coupeville, trying to win its second league crown in three seasons, spends much of the campaign in a stare-down with Chimacum.

The Cowboys win the opener of the team’s three-game season series, taking advantage of a ridiculously muddy field on the mainland.

But the Wolves hold strong, and given a rematch on the prairie, they come up with a 1-0 victory which all but clinches the title.

Rockwell, who normally operates at first base, is lurking in right field when destiny comes calling, and I’ll direct you to the game story from that day, which captures his insane, game-clinching throw in all its Spielbergian glory.

You can find it at https://coupevillesports.com/2018/04/23/magic-on-the-prairie/.

And, just to prove it wasn’t a one-time thing, Rockwell came back later in the week, playing in the third game of the Chimacum series, and laid down the RBI bunt which provided the only run Coupeville needed to win again, and make everything official.

Cause that’s what you do when you’re the author of “I Rock: The Kyle Rockwell Story.”

Which is now, and forever, the autobiography of a certified Hall o’ Famer.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Veronica Crownover had a run on the softball diamond few other Wolves can match. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The welcome committee awaits the conquering hero after a mammoth home-run.

Along with being a terror on offense, she was a nimble, sure-handed defender at first-base.

She was feared, respected, and loved, which makes for a pretty potent mix.

Once she got out of middle school, leaving volleyball and basketball behind her, Veronica Crownover tackled softball with a laser focus, becoming one of the best to ever wear a Coupeville High School uniform.

During her four-year run on the prairie, which came to a close this spring, the first-baseman was an integral part in back-to-back league titles (the second and third in 41 years of Wolf softball) and the program’s first win at the state tourney since 2002.

Along the way, she became the first Coupeville softball player I’ve ever seen receive multiple intentional walks in one game.

South Whidbey coach Brad Jaeger looked across the field at Crownover bending her bat in half while waiting in the on-deck circle and said, “No, ma’am, no sir, no how, no way.”

And he was probably right, as Crownover had torched Falcon ace Chanel Sterba in a previous game, bashing a grand-slam which bounced up the street towards Prairie Center.

As impressive as that cannon shot was, it wasn’t even her biggest blow of the year.

Of the five over-the-fence home runs she unloaded as a senior, Crownover’s Pièce De Résistance came in the year’s most-satisfying win.

Given a chance to face next-door neighbor Oak Harbor for the first time in maybe forever, the lil’ 1A Wolves stunned the 3A Wildcats 8-4 on their own field.

The hottest hitter in that game was Crownover, who launched an epic RBI single, smashed a moon shot for a two-run double, was intentionally walked, and, oh yes, cleared the towering left field fence for a game-deciding three-run home run.

To appreciate the full fury of her day, and the joy it brought Wolf nation, pop over to https://coupevillesports.com/2019/03/16/big-hearts-big-win/ to once again marinate in the moment.

But, as awe-inspiring as her performance was that day, it was just one small slice from a career which can stand with any put together by a CHS softball player.

Crownover, hot off a little league run which also included a trip to state (and a brief trial-run as a pitcher), had an immediate impact as a Wolf freshman.

She was selected as a First-Team All-Conference player by Olympic League coaches after bashing the snot out of the ball.

In particular, she was the first Wolf to turn the tide against Klahowya’s Amber Bumbalough.

In the early-going of the league, the Eagle hurler dominated, but then Coupeville turned the tide on the eventual D-I pitcher, beating KSS six straight times.

Jae LeVine and Tiffany Briscoe came through with unexpected, big-time blows against Klahowya during that stretch, while Katrina McGranahan and Sarah Wright upheld their reputations as all-world offensive threats.

But it was Crownover — swinging a bat she should have called “Thunder,” because it made a ferocious rumble every time she connected with the ball — who proved the Wolves could terrorize high-level pitching.

And they did it against other teams, as well.

South Whidbey’s Mackenzee Collins is also now a D-I pitcher, but Crownover tore her pitches to pieces, and the Wolves never lost to the Falcons in the four years Veronica wore the uniform.

By the time she was finished, Coupeville’s titan of swat had been tabbed to three All-Conference teams (and robbed one other time) and piled up stats which compare to any Wolf.

Everyone’s enduring image of Crownover will be of her crushing home-runs, yanking doubles off the top of the wall, or slicing wicked liners that whizzed an inch past a startled pitcher’s face on their way to RBI nirvana.

But she was also a top-level defender, the glue which often held the Wolf infield together.

Crownover had a slick glove, was often surprisingly nimble around the bag, and was a cerebral player, making the smart play time and again.

Her combination of providing a superior target, always being ready, and being capable of pulling off quick tags allowed Wolf catcher Sarah Wright to frequently whizz pick-off throws at unexpected moments, and the duo erased a pleasing amount of runners.

Through it all, from the little league days to her final moments on the field at the state tourney in Richland, where she and her teammates upended highly-ranked Deer Park, Crownover was the same easy-going, fun-loving, deadly-efficient slugger.

Today we induct her into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, where she joins others diamond greats such as Sarah Mouw and Breeanna Messner, and it’s an honor she more than deserves.

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

She’ll be easy to spot.

Just look for the player who has to pull a cart behind her, because she collected too many home-run balls to just carry them in her arms.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »