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Archive for the ‘Hall o’ Fame’ Category

Kylie Burdge, Hall o’ Famer. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Kiara (Burdge) Aguirre joins her big sis in being inducted.

They were born to be stars.

At least it seems that way, as, in all my seasons of watching Coupeville High School cheerleaders at work, few made the kind of memorable impact that the Burdge sisters did.

Kylie and Kiara, in seasons together and apart, embraced the cheer game, their coaches, teammates, and fellow students, and their community, with great fervor.

They weren’t just content to be cheerleaders, but were front and center all the way, thanks to a ton of hard work and naturally vibrant personalities.

The sister duo could be loud (when it mattered most), were always proud, and led by example, both rising to be captains in the Wolf program.

Away from the sidelines, they were brilliant students, both finishing their run at CHS in the top ten of their class academically.

You can also add in that they were as friendly and outgoing as any Wolf athletes I have ever written about, and passionate about their beliefs and convictions.

It’s not always easy to stand up and be publicly committed to your religion as teenagers, but Kylie and Kiara have always been open about their deep love for their Mormon faith, and I give them a lot of credit for that.

Whether you’re part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or not (and I’m not), it shouldn’t be hard to respect others for their beliefs, especially if they show a deep commitment and reverence for their faith, as the Burdge sisters always have.

But today, a couple of days after Kiara’s wedding day, we’re putting the focus primarily on their athletic achievements, since this blog is, technically at least, concerned with covering sports.

The debate over whether cheer is a sport should have ended a long time ago.

It’s a sport, and its athletes put in as much or more work than those in any other pursuit.

End of story.

And when we hail cheerleaders, especially those who have done their work while reppin’ the red and black of Coupeville, you have to include Kylie and Kiara.

Attend any game during their time in uniform, and it was obvious they loved cheer, and the chance to support their classmates.

Any awards they won — and there were more than a few — were well deserved, as the sisters brought a zing and a real sense of style to everything they did as Wolf cheerleaders.

They provided leadership and friendship to those around them, and were ideal role models for the young athletes coming up behind them on the youth cheer teams.

Want to know how high cheerleaders can soar in life, and all they can accomplish? The Burdge sisters are a great place to start.

So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that today we induct them into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find Kylie and Kiara hanging out up at the top of the blog, gettin’ loud ‘n proud under the Legends tab.

Exactly where they belong.

Sister superstars, on the cheer sidelines and in life. (Photo courtesy Trina Burdge)

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Uriel Liquidano sacrifices his head for the team. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

He was a new-school kid who played like an old-school athlete.

Uriel “Woody” Liquidano may have graduated in 2017, but his playing style would have made him a perfect fit back in the ’60s and ’70s.

Whether on the football field or the soccer pitch, the middle of three children (he followed big bro Oscar and preceded lil’ sis Estefanny) never left any doubt.

Uriel played hard, he played with passion, and he excelled as both an individual athlete and as a valuable link holding his team together.

Liquidano was joined by sister Estefanny, his parents, and one of his nieces on Senior Night.

The last time he walked off the Coupeville High School football field, I shook his hand and said something about how impressed I was with how he handled himself during his prep career.

Today, on his birthday, we’re following that up with something which should have happened a long time ago – we’re inducting him into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, where he will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Oscar.

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

And why not?

Uriel played like a legend, while rarely being one to beat his own chest and scream about his greatness.

Instead, he yanked his helmet down on his head, locked eyes with opposing quarterbacks, then relentlessly chased them down, usually finishing plays having wrecked anyone foolish enough to get in his way.

Plop him on the soccer pitch as well, or the basketball court during his earlier days, and Uriel was just as much of a rampaging force of nature.

Pick a sport, and he was an enforcer.

On the gridiron, Uriel was a two-way starter, anchoring the offensive line, while rumbling on defense as a linebacker.

A team captain along with fellow Hall o’ Famers Clay Reilly and Jacob Martin, he led by example, busting his tail and delivering big plays.

Of all of his games in red and black, Uriel’s biggest probably came during his senior year, when he led a fired-up Wolves squad to a 41-10 thrashing of arch-rival South Whidbey as Coupeville retained possession of The Bucket.

As I wrote in the game story that night:

Senior Uriel Liquidano was a beast unleashed, spending most of his night gently cradling frightened Falcons as he slammed them to the turf after shedding would-be blockers.

Denied!

That smash-mouth playing style carried over to the soccer pitch, where he operated primarily as a defender for the Wolves.

Bust through Coupeville’s front line and Uriel was waiting to use and abuse you, sailing into battle with a huge smile on his face and his elbows set to “Crush Mode.”

An honor student off the field, and a guy who gave you everything he had from opening whistle to final whistle, he remains one of my favorite athletes to cover from the Coupeville Sports days.

So happy cake day, Uriel, best wishes for the future, and appreciation for the past.

You are the real deal, sir. Always have been, always will be.

Liquidano, Jacob Martin (32), and Clay Reilly (2) went out as champs, thrashing South Whidbey 41-10 as seniors.

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The ever-irrepressible Ally Roberts is the seventh member of her extended family inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.com)

Also inducted today – older sister Madeline, a true one-of-a-kind star on the softball diamond.

At this rate, we might want to think about adding a Sandy Roberts wing to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

The man himself is already well-established in our lil’ digital hall of wonders, inducted for his stellar work as both a Wolf athlete and coach.

Toss in two sons (Jon and Jay Roberts), a daughter-in-law (Sherry (Bonacci) Roberts) and, as of today, three grandchildren (Lindsey, Madeline, and Ally Roberts) also camping out there, and the family is well-represented.

While we wait for the construction of that wing, though, we have a bit of business to take care of, and that’s the induction of grandchildren #2 and #3, sisters Madeline and Ally.

They went their own ways when it came to choosing their athletic pursuits, but they were similar in always shining brightly in whatever arena they participated.

Madeline made her name on the softball field, a slap-hitting speedster who anchored the top of the lineup for the CHS softball squad.

A four-year letter winner, she was a First-Team All-League pick at shortstop during her senior season in 2014, a time when Coupeville faced off with big bads like Archbishop Thomas Murphy and Lakewood in the 1A/2A Cascade Conference.

That was the season the Wolves shocked folks by putting together a late-season run which carried them all the way to Eastern Washington for the state tournament, their first return trip to the big dance in a decade-plus.

In addition to All-League honors, Madeline ran away with the team award for Best Offense when Wolf coaches David and Amy King held their annual season-ending shindig.

Not content with merely being a high school standout, Mad Dog made the jump to college ball, as well, and with a twist.

She played two seasons on the diamond for Shoreline Community College, facing off a few times against former CHS teammate Hailey Hammer, who did her college time at Everett Community College.

But Madeline also surprised everyone when, after not playing basketball in high school, she opted to play a campaign with Shoreline’s hoops squad, acquitting herself quite nicely.

Her younger, but ultimately taller, sister was also a multi-sport athlete, juggling the equestrian world with volleyball.

On the court, Rally Ally was a ferocious hitter, ripping off knee-quaking spikes and flinging her body to the floor with wild abandon to save wayward shots.

Playing for the Wolves during a time of transition, when several coaches moved through the system, Ally saw her role change often, but she always adapted and never stopped fighting during every second she was given on the floor.

When she wasn’t in the gym, Lisa Edlin’s youngest daughter could usually be found astride a horse, winning medals and ribbons while tearing up the rodeo circuit.

It was a sport which carried Ally through both high school and college, where she was the captain of Western Washington University’s equestrian team.

She won a regional championship in Advanced Western Horsemanship in what turned out to be her final time in the saddle, before being denied a crack at nationals when COVID-19 shut down college sports.

That disappointment, while sad in the moment, will ultimately be just a small footnote for Ally, who like her big sis, has much more ahead of her left to accomplish.

As they move forward, they’ll also hang around, joining their family members under the Legends tab at the top of the blog.

They were stars during their school days — two bright, shining supernovas full of talent and skill who added bold new chapters to the tale of one of Coupeville’s most-successful athletic families.

Out in the real world, Madeline and Ally will be equally unstoppable. Of that, I have no doubt.

And when they do hit it big? We can say we knew them back when.

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Tia Wurzrainer: three sports, 1000% effort. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Numbers don’t always tell the full story.

And that’s why, to fully appreciate what Tia Wurzrainer brought to Coupeville High School athletics the past four years, you needed to see her play in person.

From a distance, she didn’t score a staggering amount of goals on the soccer field, and didn’t net a record-busting number of baskets on the hardwood.

But watch Tia play in person, whether it was soccer, basketball, or tennis season, and you would quickly gain an appreciation of why she was so valued by coaches, and so beloved by her teammates.

The young girl who once sat quietly eating her sandwich back in a corner at her family’s restaurant, Christopher’s on Whidbey, emerged as one of the hardest-working, far-tougher-than-expected athletes to ever pull on a Wolf jersey.

Tia did the dirty work, and then asked for more, always with a smile.

On the soccer field, she sacrificed her body game after game, a defender who seemingly feared no scoring ace, and wasn’t gonna take no crap from no one, no matter how fancy the rival school might be.

She protected her side of the field with a burning intensity, slamming into frays, chasing down breakaways, fighting for every 50/50 ball, making life considerably easier for the CHS goalkeepers who camped out behind her.

Give her a chance to score, and she could, but Tia made her name holding down the backline, where she netted All-Conference honors and earned mad respect from anyone foolish enough to challenge her.

As fall faded into winter, she would move from the pitch to the basketball court, but her persona as a quietly tough-as-nails roustabout never changed.

Tia slices to the hoop for a bucket in a big win over arch-rival South Whidbey.

The kind of “glue” player every coach needs, she was that rare teen athlete who not only accepted her role, but openly embraced it.

Need a lock-down defender?

A hustler and a scrapper?

A pass-first player who could help keep her team flowing under big-time pressure?

A staunch supporter of each and every one of her teammates?

Tia was the answer for all those needs, and she always seemed to play with the same intensity and effort regardless of whether she was starting or coming off the bench.

Proving she was a true three-sport star, she never skipped a season, joining Avalon Renninger to form a deadly doubles duo on the tennis court each spring.

Always a deadly assassin on the tennis court.

The pair meshed almost flawlessly, both in playing style, and with the grace and drive they exhibited match after match.

Team leaders, captains, and stellar competitors, the duo were on the fast track to make it to the state tourney, only to see their senior season derailed by COVID-19.

While Tia and Avalon didn’t get the chance to make a run at glory in Eastern Washington, that shouldn’t detract in the slightest from what they accomplished when given a chance to play.

While reflecting on their net careers, CHS tennis guru Ken Stange marveled at what Wurzrainer had brought to his program.

Tia … calm, cool, and collected.

“She would probably argue with me, but I think Tia is perfect.

“Kind, intelligent, intuitive, and hard working. I don’t think I ever heard a single negative word pass through her lips.

“Her work ethic was second to none. Anyone would be happy to have her as a partner, me included.”

Some athletes get a chance to put up big numbers, making it easy for people in far-off states or other countries to have at least a loose idea of what they accomplished.

But it’s those like Tia, the ones you need to be camped out in the bleachers, or on the bench, or out there on the floor with her, to really appreciate, who make an impact which can’t be matched.

If you know, you know.

And, if you don’t know, you really, truly missed out.

Today, we swing open the doors at the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and welcome Tia to our hallowed digital hideaway, where she is reunited with Avalon, her tennis doubles partner.

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

All in all, a very appropriate choice of words to describe two of the best, as athletes and as people, to ever emerge from Coupeville.

Wurzrainer and Renninger? They were kind of a big deal.

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Mason Grove, here to entertain. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mason Grove would make Alexander Hamilton proud, cause the former Wolf never, ever threw away his shot.

Instead, the 2020 CHS grad spent most of his days in the red and black making the net jump, three-ball after three-ball falling from the skies.

Grove feared no rival on the hardwood, and played basketball in the style of a Damian Lillard, letting fly from any angle, any spot on the floor, at any point in the game.

From a scrappy, undersized youngster to a confident elder statesmen and team leader, his journey on the basketball court was a thrilling one to watch for hoops fans.

Not that Grove was a one-sport guy, as he also excelled on the tennis courts and baseball diamond.

Grove always seemed to enjoy his time as an athlete, even after a collision with teammate Matt Hilborn left him with a smashed-up nose. (Chris Smith photo)

He made an especially-strong case for himself with a racket in hand, where he meshed often dynamic shot-making skills with a nice bit of attitude.

Paired up with James Wood, Grove was a top doubles ace for Ken Stange’s Wolf tennis squads, and the duo thrived in the spotlight of being Coupeville’s #1 team.

But, while he was a jack of all trades on the baseball diamond, and a throwback to a better, grittier time on the tennis court — unlike most modern players, Grove wasn’t afraid to drill a rival player with the ball, something which makes ’80s tennis players such as myself nod in approval — it’s basketball which dominates his resume.

“You will not score! I will … a lot … but you won’t!!” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Grove loved to shoot, and, while he developed as an attacker as he matured, getting to the free throw line more often, the three-ball was his prime weapon.

His shot was always a little bit different than a lot of other players, as he would rear back and fling the ball from over his shoulder.

And it worked, big time.

Since he snapped off his shots, Grove almost always got the ball up before defenders could adjust, and the resulting heaves were rainbows caressing the roof of the gym.

When he got hot, it seemed like he would never miss, shot after shot rippling the net, while Grove, slight smirk hiding behind his mouth guard, ambled away like a gunfighter after another successful shoot-out at high noon.

Early in his CHS hoops career, he was on pace to be the highest-scoring JV player the Wolf boys program had ever seen.

In one game against Port Townsend, Grove rained down 10 three-balls on his way to 34 points, and the only reason he didn’t catch Allen Black for the single-season JV scoring mark was because his JV playing time became limited as varsity coach Brad Sherman started using him as a go-to gunner.

Once he made his mark at the varsity level, immediately stroking long-range shots and opening space for older teammate Hunter Smith to rumble, Grove never looked back.

He was the #6 scorer on the varsity team as a sophomore, despite playing in just a handful of minutes, then jumped to #3 as a junior and #1 during his senior season.

When he walked off the court for the final time at CHS, after a season and prep career-ending playoff loss, Grove had rung up 414 points in varsity games, which puts him #54 all-time for a program which has played for 103 seasons.

And the numbers are nice, definitely.

But it’s how he played which fans will remember.

In all of his sports, Grove was just flat-out entertaining, capable and willing of putting on a show.

He always got the most out of his talent, and seemed to enjoy every moment he had on a court or field.

So, for the numbers, and for the style, and for the way he would stand off to the side, talking and smiling with a rival player, while free throws were being shot, and then, bam, two seconds later, drill a three-ball right in that guy’s face, he joins big sis Lauren in the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

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

Right where they belong.

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