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Archive for the ‘Hall o’ Fame’ Category

The real world has taken Ashlie Shank away from Coupeville, but she will always be a part of Wolf Nation. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Shank, back in the day, hanging with (l to r) Brisa Herrera, Emma Smith and Sarah Wright.

Not everyone gets the finish they deserve.

Ashlie Shank should be four days away from her first basketball practice at Coupeville High School, a season away from bouncing at the line with her relay teammates, stalking track and field glory, months from walking with them at graduation.

It’s the way it should be. But sometimes real life intrudes on the fairy tale.

You can’t fault her father, Dr. Jim Shank, for accepting a promotion and moving on to a far bigger school system. It’s the life of a Superintendent, especially one who truly makes a difference at each landing spot.

But I feel for Ashlie, who arrived in Coupeville as a middle school student and began her high school journey with the CHS Class of 2019.

Over the course of her time here, as two of her older siblings, brothers Matt and Brian, graduated from CHS, the youngest child in the Shank household made remarkable strides.

She found a band of friends, or, more realistically, sisters, and Ashlie grew into a more-confident young woman, in the sports world and outside of it.

On the basketball court, her quiet intensity paid off, as she became a go-to player for the Wolf JV – one who could, and would, step up and drill a game-winning shot at the buzzer.

Take a sec and go relive the moment at https://coupevillesports.com/2015/12/11/klahowya-you-got-shanked/

Her hustle, her work ethic, her commitment, was rewarded with a varsity jersey during her junior season, when she became a swing player.

If the Shanks hadn’t moved across the country, Ashlie would walk through the CHS gym doors this coming Monday intent on winning a full-time varsity slot. And it would have been one she earned.

In the track and field world, she made it to state in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200, winning respect from her teammates and coaches along the way.

At one point, I polled CHS coaches on the best athletes they had worked with, and this is what one had to say:

I feel that Ashlie Shank is the most underrated athlete that I coached.

This girl was a sleeper and for some reason it seemed that no one expected much from her, but she expected so much from herself and worked so hard to get to where she was before she left.

She was very consistent in her times and she continued to bring them down by working hard, harder than some of the best athletes on the team.

She was essential to her relays and amazing on her own. She knew how to push herself and find new limits every day.

I wish she could have stayed so I could’ve seen her senior season but I wish her the best for her senior year.

Other than writing about her on-field exploits, I had one other interaction with Ashlie during her time in Coupeville.

It came before a soccer playoff game at Oak Harbor’s stadium, when we both ended up in the press box during pre-game warm-ups.

It wasn’t a long conversation, but it reinforced my positive impression of Miss Shank.

She came across as a bright, well-spoken young woman, highly intelligent, fiercely loyal to her friends, with a good sense of humor and a quiet strength at her core.

What I witnessed in person matches what others have said about her, and what I observed from afar at her games.

I have no doubt Ashlie will do well, wherever she is, another winner from a family which has my admiration and respect for how they conduct themselves, and what they accomplish.

Still, a part of me wishes she could have had the chance to end her high school days where she started them. Shoulder-to-shoulder with her sisters from other mothers.

So today, I want to do something, I want to make a small gesture, to let Ashlie know how much of an impact she made while she was on Whidbey Island.

How impressed we were, and are, with the strong, intelligent, highly-motivated young woman who graced Cow Town for a few years.

To remind her that even when life takes you away, you will not be forgotten.

Induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, with a rare few exceptions, isn’t usually granted until after you graduate.

Today, we’re making an exception.

In the end, her diploma will likely come from another school, it’s true.

But, after today, when you scroll to the top of the blog and peek under the Legends tab, you’ll find Ashlie Shank’s name right where it belongs.

One of us. Always and forever.

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Cameron Toomey-Stout, Hall o’ Famer? One of the easiest calls I’ve made. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The high-flying Toomey-Stout returns to Earth.

Camtastic being Camtastic.

He was the most unlikely of stars. And yet the most likely.

When Cameron Toomey-Stout was a freshman, he arrived on the football field barely tipping the scales at three digits. So, good thing 87 pounds of that was all heart.

As he grew, and outworked everyone expect maybe his own siblings, Camtastic went from being a novelty to one of the best athletes to ever wear a Wolf uniform.

So it should come as no surprise as to why we are here today, as we swing open the doors to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and welcome our newest addition.

After this, if you pop up to the Legends tab at the top of the blog, you’ll find Toomey-Stout right where he should be, rubbing elbows with the record-busters and name-takers.

On the gridiron, Toomey-Stout earned his playing time the old-fashioned way – he worked for it.

He was the point of the spear on special teams, the first man down the field and the first to light someone up, every dang time.

It wasn’t until younger brother Sean showed up, two years behind him, that Cameron finally had a teammate who could match him in hauling tail down the field on a kick or punt, and then inflicting damage on the would-be returner.

Watching the Toomey-Stout brothers race each other to the ball, two heat-seeking missiles unleashed, was one of the great pleasures of my sports-writing career.

Win or lose, in the lead or trailing by 40, the brothers made every special team play just that – special.

For Cameron, once he got on the field, he refused to come off, turning into a consistently-dangerous player on offense and defense to go with his special teams prowess.

In the backfield, he teamed with fellow Hall o’ Famer Hunter Smith to disrupt and deny the game plans of rival QB’s.

Toomey-Stout used his speed and his hops to pick off his fair share of passes while sharing space with Smith, who retired as the school’s all-time leading interception man.

Working together, they gave QB’s nowhere to throw that was safe, and always seemed on the verge of taking a pick six to the house.

As a receiver, Toomey-Stout was again the perfect complement to Smith, until injuries to both his running mate and his brother left Cameron as the last man standing during his senior season.

During the second half of the 2017 season, Coupeville QB Hunter Downes had one weapon left to deploy, and the elder Toomey-Stout fought valiantly while being double and triple-teamed.

Camtastic endured, fighting to the final play, out-leaping defenders, twisting his body into a pretzel, and pulling in pass after pass while knowing other teams had him in their cross-hairs.

If Toomey-Stout had any fears, he never, ever showed them once he pulled down his helmet and tightened his chin strap.

Throughout the history of CHS football, there are other players who, after their run was done, may have looked back and wondered what could of have been if they had worked harder, played more consistently or just been tougher.

With Cameron, when he walked off the field for the final time and hugged sister Maya, there were no lingering questions.

He truly gave everything he had, from day one to the final whistle.

And while football alone would have likely earned him his induction into the Hall o’ Fame, Toomey-Stout was a true three-sport man, one of just four from his class to play all 12 seasons as a high school athlete.

On the basketball floor, he was the glue that held things together. A hustler, a scrapper, a fight-for-the-ball-on-every play support guy who showed, late in his career, he could singe the nets when he wanted to let the ball fly.

Toomey-Stout could knock down a three-ball with a fluid shot, could zip a pass through a maze of arms and have it land right on the fingertips of a teammate, or out-muscle a rival six inches taller for control of the ball.

And through it all, through the sweat and the wear and tear, his hair remained, uncannily, the best in the biz. Which has to count for some extra credit.

When spring rolled around, Toomey-Stout, also a crack student in his small slice of down time, bounced from baseball to track and field.

On the diamond, he was a speed demon in the outfield and on the base paths, part of the first CHS baseball squad to win a league title in 25 years.

But the track, where he was joined by twin siblings Maya and Sean, offered Cameron the ideal way to flash his often-extraordinary physical skills.

Toomey-Stout closed his prep career with a burst of speed and derring-do, competing at the state track meet in three events – the triple jump, long jump and 4 x 100 relay.

He PR’d in the long jump and claimed a medal in the relay, leading off a unit which also included his brother.

But, as we mentioned at the start of this article, Cameron was always about more than just results.

It’s true, he put up some nice numbers, across all of his sports.

What we will remember him most for, though, is how he did it.

The way he pushed himself, every day, getting quicker, stronger, more efficient. The way he conducted himself, attacking with the same intensity in wins and losses.

Rival players, coaches and fans respected him as much as Wolf Nation did, the ultimate testament to the impact he made in his four years in a Coupeville uniform.

He carried the Toomey-Stout name with pride, always, but he fully earned the nickname Camtastic.

If you have a young son or daughter, a student/athlete with dreams of accomplishing great things, have them study Cameron’s career. Then have them emulate his passion, his will, his drive, his class, his style.

Model yourself after the best, to be the best.

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William Nelson was a four-year star in tennis and soccer during his days at Coupeville High School. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Consistency.

That was the trademark of William Nelson, and it was a trait he displayed on the tennis court, the soccer pitch and in the classroom.

Before he graduated last spring, the long ‘n lanky one was money in the bank for Coupeville High School sports teams.

Need a big play, or maybe just a small, but very significant, one?

Nelson was the go-to guy, never prone to thumping his chest or screaming about how great he was, just the ultimate cool professional who did his job (and everyone else’s) game in, game out.

There was a moment, a very brief moment, during a super-tense match as seniors, when he and lifetime doubles mate Joey Lippo tapped tennis rackets with 2% more enthusiasm than normal after winning a tough point.

It was the equivalent of another player ripping their jersey in half, then mooning the fans while sprinting around the court, waving a flag, screaming “U-S-A, U-S-A!!!”

Most times, Nelson was content to slightly arch an eyebrow or smile a half-smile after he had decimated his foes.

He knew he had reached into their chest cavity, ripped out their heart and shown it to them, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom“-style, and they knew it, too.

So, half-smile, nod and move on to the next thing on his to-do list.

If he had only played one sport, either soccer or tennis, Nelson would likely still be receiving induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

But, since he played both, and excelled so thoroughly in two very different worlds, it’s a slam dunk.

So, after this, when you travel up to the top of the blog and peek under the Legends tab, you’ll find Nelson there, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Wolf greats of yore.

And there is little doubt he deserves the honor.

As the heart and soul of the CHS soccer squad, Nelson was a four-time First-Team All-Conference player as a midfielder.

He combined deft moves, smooth speed and a willingness to get down and dirty while scrapping, and could be a solid goal scorer, a superb set-up man for other Wolf gunners, or a bit of both.

More more than most players, Nelson was quick to adapt his game to fit best with the skill sets of his teammates.

As players came and went during his four-year run on the CHS pitch, he adjusted how he played to better mesh with each new star, and never seemed to care whether his name was the one in the spotlight, or theirs.

What mattered most to Nelson, or at least that’s how it always seemed from the outside, was putting his team in a position to win.

He was an ideal captain, well-respected, a leader both by action and words, and his calmness carried over to many of his running mates.

Nelson wasn’t a pushover, at all. Exactly the opposite.

Try and elbow him, or kick him, or mess with his teammates, and he subtly responded, making sure you didn’t do it twice, while rarely drawing the wrath of the officials.

His quiet toughness carried over to the tennis courts, where he and Lippo (who will likely join him in the Hall o’ Fame in short order) perfectly synced up for a four-year run as doubles partners.

Two tall players with rock-solid hitting styles, who held their emotions largely in check while picking apart foes, they came within a point of making it to state as seniors, while anchoring the Wolf lineup day after day, year after year.

Longtime Coupeville tennis coach Ken Stange described Nelson as “silky smooth” and “pretty unflappable.”

Will and Joey played so many big matches through the years,” he said. “And they often drew a crowd when they played, which says a lot because tennis usually does not draw a crowd.”

Matinee idol, big game ace, serene superstar – they all describe Nelson.

And now you can add Hall o’ Famer to the list.

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Lauren Rose, baby whisperer, standout athlete, academic genius and all around remarkable young woman. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Rose comes up firing while patrolling the infield.

To know Lo is to adore her.

I have watched countless athletes play in my years as a sport writer, but Lauren Rose lands on a very, very small list as one of the best I have ever witnessed.

For her athletic ability? Absolutely. For her work ethic and commitment? Positively.

But also because she is simply one of the best human beings to ever pull on a Wolf uniform. Ever.

Lauren and twin sister Kayla are two of the most gracious, kind and caring, intelligent, personable young women I have met.

When you add in Lauren’s amazingly consistent, often inspired, athletic performances during her four-year run at Coupeville High School, and there is no doubt whatsoever she has long deserved inclusion into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

So, after I get done gushing about her in this article, you’ll find her enshrined up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

The supremely serene superstar, whether she was being hailed as Mouse, Munchkin or Keebler Elf, had the stats, the SportsCenter highlight plays, the big wins, and all the All-Conference awards.

But, most of all, she had a heart that was unmatched. She might not have been as tall as some of her teammates, but she played like a giant every dang day.

Pick a sport — volleyball, basketball or softball — and Rose delivered, steady, calm and collected, yet burning with desire to get better, work harder and fight longer.

She once snapped off 20 consecutive points on her serve in a varsity volleyball match against Chimacum, almost running a complete set by herself, and every serve was pure perfection.

Rose, who may have missed two or three serves in her entire four-year run for the CHS volleyball program, lashed winner after winner, putting a slightly different spin on each serve as she continually hit a target only she saw.

The Cowboys weren’t a bad team, and the match itself was competitive, but when Rose was twirling the ball and launching elegant missiles, they might as well have just sat down on the bench and enjoyed the show, cause they had no answers for what she was dealin’.

And that’s how she was in all her sports, whether finishing among the state leaders in assists as a nimble-fingered setter, harassing rivals to distraction on the basketball court as a ballhawk, or being uniformly superb at whatever position her softball coaches asked her to play.

Rose did a stint behind the plate as a freshman, waiting for Sarah Wright to arrive from middle school and take over the catching duties, then moved out to anchor the team at short and third in later years.

And it’s in the world of softball where The Keebler Elf delivered what I believe to be her most inspired moment.

Coupeville had a road game in Sequim rescheduled at the last second, which put Rose in an unexpected sticky situation.

As the leadoff hitter for the red-hot Wolves, she wanted to be in the lineup, and yet she also had an important SAT test she couldn’t miss.

Strong athlete, strong student, trapped in a no-win situation.

Except, she made it work.

First, Rose blitzed her way through the test, using a #2 pencil like a sword to defend her academic rep.

Then she bolted across the street, hurdled into a waiting car driven by a teammate’s parents and hauled tail for the ferry, not even stopping to change into her uniform.

“I’ll do it on the ferry!”

“Do you know how dirty ferry bathrooms are??????”

“I’ll move faster than the germs!!”

With the clock ticking against her, Rose (and her ride) made it to the field in Sequim with mere moments to spare, at which point she catapulted herself from the back seat of the still-moving auto, juggling her mitt, bat and snacks as she sprinted towards her coach, who was pacing madly, one eye on his watch, one on the ump.

“Oh, sweet lord, my heart…”

“Told you I’d make it,” Rose whispered to her coach as she flung her mitt and snacks over her shoulder, bouncing them into the dugout on a dime.

Never breaking pace, she sprinted to the plate, nodded to the ump, hefted her bat, glanced at the pitcher for a split second (or less) and promptly smacked the first pitch of the game, driving the ball to straight away center for a standup double.

Legendary.

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Clay Reilly may have hung up his jersey, but his legend still lives large. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Clay Reilly was a gamer.

Baseball or football or basketball (the latter in his younger days), the Coupeville High School grad was one of those rare athletes who never, ever seemed to give less than his best effort.

Every game I watched him play, Reilly went down fighting until the final out, the final second ticking off the clock, regardless of the score. And I saw the majority of the games he played at CHS.

And yes, Amanda Fabrizi’s lil’ bro (in age, at least) rocked some of the most impressive hair this side of a shampoo commercial, but it was his locked-in attitude, and not his flowing locks, that we will remember him for the most.

The 2017 grad left an indelible mark on Wolf Nation, and, for that, we induct him today into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, where he joins his sister.

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

Where to start with Clay? At the end, I think.

His senior season of baseball, the final sport of his prep career, ended with an agonizing playoff loss at home. It was a game he personally played very well in, but he and his teammates just couldn’t get past their private school rivals.

As many of the other Wolves stood aimlessly around the dugout, or chatted with fans and friends, Reilly walked out to the fence in the deepest part of the outfield and stood alone for a bit.

I can’t tell you what all was going through his mind at the time, and, while I could guess, I wouldn’t ask, then or now.

I understand why sports reporters stick tape recorders and notebooks in athlete’s faces moments after they’ve taken season or career-ending losses. It’s part of the job and yet it’s not fair to the reporters or the athletes.

Sometimes it’s better to just let a person have room to breathe, a moment to themselves to begin to absorb everything they’ve gone through, the highs and lows of years of sweat, hard work and dedication.

While there was obviously sadness, I hope, that in that moment, and in the time since, Reilly also dwelled on the positives of his season and career.

Of all he accomplished, of all those he inspired and impressed with his ability, his drive and his commitment.

He was a standout on the diamond, a dude with a rocket for an arm, fleet feet and a dangerous bat, and he played a key role on the first CHS baseball team to win a league title after 24 years of wandering in the wilderness.

That came during his junior season when Reilly, CJ and Hunter Smith, Cole Payne and Co. swept to the crown in the Olympic League, accomplishing something no Wolf diamond squad had achieved since 1991.

While the Coupeville football team didn’t win any league titles during his run, Reilly, who rose to be a captain by his senior season, provided Wolf coaches with multiple options.

He could run, slashing through the line. He could snag passes, pulling in bombs while being blanketed. He could size up a guy and drop his rear on the turf, wherever you played him on defense.

And, maybe most memorably, Reilly could kick the ever-lovin’ snot out of the ball.

A dangerous return man on special teams, he became Coupeville’s kicker and punter in the latter stages of his career, quickly becoming one of the deadliest booters in the entire state.

Reilly nailed 20 of 21 PAT kicks during his senior year, while racking up nearly 1,200 yards as a punter. Coming in a season where the Wolf offense struggled at times to find a rhythm, his foot was often their best way of moving the ball.

One punt, in particular, will live long in the memories of Wolf fans.

CHS had sputtered out and was pinned deep in its own half of the field, when Reilly, dodging incoming defenders, let loose with an epic kick.

It sailed high, straight and true through the lightly foggy fall evening, arcing and tumbling ever so slightly, then came down behind the would-be returner, tore off a chunk of grass and took a perfect bounce, arcing towards the end zone.

With Wolf special team players in hot pursuit, the opposing team had no chance to return it, and no willingness to backpedal and chase after the rapidly-fleeing football.

By the time a Coupeville player downed the ball, it had traveled, with kick, and well-timed bounce, some 70+ yards, and remains maybe the single most awe-inspiring kick I have seen in a high school game.

Later that same season, while on the road and camped out in a rival team’s press box, I watched Reilly launch moon shot after moon shot on his kicks, earning actual ooh’s and ah’s from an opposing coach camped out a few feet away.

“Lordy, that kid is killin’ us!!,” he wailed into his head set, and then he stopped, rubbed his forehead and sighed deeply.

It was the ultimate sign of respect for one of the ultimate competitors to ever wear a Coupeville jersey.

Your prep sports career may be over, Clay, but you will always live large in our collective memory.

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