Archive for the ‘Hall o’ Fame’ Category

Alita Blouin, talented and tough. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

She’s one tough young woman.

Coupeville High School senior Alita Blouin has natural athletic talent, a strong inner drive, and a rock-solid support crew in her family and friends.

But what has always impressed me over the years, as she has gone from the world of youth sports to high school games, is her toughness.

Not that she goes out and slugs rival players in the face or anything like that — though maybe don’t get between Alita and a loose ball or you just might taste her elbow.

A shooter supreme. (Andrew Williams photo)

Alita’s toughness comes in several forms.

One, in being able to fight back through injuries, whether it’s a busted ankle or a balky back.

Nothing keeps Alita down for long, and, each time, she returns to the floor just as committed and just as scrappy.

But her toughness also shines through in how she approaches each aspect of being an athlete.

Some players bring effort in games. Others turn up the intensity in practice.

Few have been as competitive in warmups as Alita, however.

Way back, a long time ago — OK, it was during her 8th grade volleyball season — I wrote about a small, but very important, moment I noticed during pregame exercises.

As CMS went through warm-ups before a volleyball match, the spikers started to run laps around the floor.

Alita, a team captain, was out in front, serious and locked-in. No coasting.

At which point, one of her teammates, Lucy Tenore, who is considerably taller, and has a much-longer stride, tried to pass her friend.

Alita was not playing that. At all.

Lucy, smile growing bigger and bigger, tried a second time, then a third, but couldn’t get by.

That’s because Alita, legs pumping, elbows ever at the alert, fended off her teammate at every turn, her face locked in a death mask of concentration.

Lucy, fully laughing at this point, finally relented, only to see Alita kick it up a notch to a sprinter’s run to finish the final curve, one eye looking over her shoulder just in case anyone else wanted to get foolish.

June and Shawn’s daughter brought that same intensity to the floor every night as she played volleyball and (when her body allowed it) basketball.

Hanging out with the parental units. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

As a libero, Alita was invaluable, capable of filling up the stat sheet, but worth far more to the Wolves as a leader, joining Maddie Georges at the forefront of the CHS attack.

The duo earned a major honor at the end of their prep volleyball careers, invited to play in the 1B/2B/1A All-State games.

It was a fitting reward, and a testament to what both brought to the Wolf spiker program.

In a perfect world, Alita would have been able to suit up for Coupeville’s basketball team all four years.

While injuries prevented that, with a broken ankle suffered during pregame player introductions her junior season a nasty surprise, when she was on the floor, she made the net jump like few others.

Alita can rain down three-balls from anywhere on the floor, yet also showed a willingness to slice through the paint and tangle with the tall trees camped around the basket.

She was only on the floor for 23 high school hoops games — two as a junior before the injury, and 21 as a senior — yet still rattled the rims for 215 points.

That puts Alita #56 on the all-time CHS girls scoring chart, for a program launched in 1974, and her 204 points this past season marks the first time a Wolf girl topped 200 in a season since 2016.

Toss in appearances on the honor roll, and the fact she was elected Homecoming Queen as a senior, and Ryan’s big sister has left a substantial mark on her soon-to-be alma mater.

Royalty, on and off the court. (Angie Downes photo)

Talent, toughness, inner drive — Alita has it all, and wherever she goes after high school, one thing is for certain. She will be a winner at anything she does.

Now, as she and her classmates work their way towards graduation, let’s take a moment to bestow another honor on her.

Today, in a move which you could see coming a long, long time ago — at about the moment she hip-checked Lucy Tenore into the stands — we welcome Alita Blouin to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find her hanging out at the top of the blog under the Legends tab, a fitting destination.

When entering the digital shrine, however, don’t try and pass Alita.

Cause she don’t play that.

“You can compete with me. You can’t beat me!” (Brian Vick photo)

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Maddie Georges, the best at what she does. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Maddie Georges always sets others up for success.

Across her four-year run as a varsity high school athlete, the Coupeville senior has always put team first.

Part of it is the positions she plays — setter in volleyball and point guard in basketball.

But Georges rises above the constraints of her role, putting her own distinctive spin on each play, each game, each season.

Like others from her generation, she didn’t get her full time on the floor, as a worldwide pandemic carved away games and practice time.

Instead of focusing on what could have been, though, or complaining about also having to fight through injuries, Georges seized every moment she was given.

An All-State volleyball player and an All-League basketball star, she proved to be one of the best to ever wear a Wolf uniform.

Facing off with high-powered La Conner, Georges won this tip battle. (Jackie Saia photo)

On the volleyball court Georges flicked passes left, right, forward, and over her shoulder, mixing up her set-ups to keep the defense always on edge.

What she didn’t do was confuse her own teammates, as she almost always placed her big hitters into position to spray kills, slicin’ ‘n dicin’ hapless rivals.

Coupeville’s primary stumbling block the past couple of seasons has been La Conner, which has collected four straight 2B state titles.

Few teams have toppled the Braves, but, led by Georges, the Wolves came as close as any Northwest 2B/1B League program.

Regardless of the score or opponent, Coupeville’s primary setter never conceded a point, keeping the offense flowing while also racking up great gobs o’ service aces, and even a few kills when the moment dictated.

Georges put a bow on her high school volleyball career by joining Wolf teammate Alita Blouin at the All-State event after her senior season, following in the footsteps of older brother Alex Evans, an All-State baseball player back in the day.

Sharing All-State honors with Alita Blouin. (Suzan Georges photo)

On the basketball court Georges was a cold-blooded assassin, capable of drilling three-balls from all angles, while also a master at crashing to the hoop for hard-earned buckets.

She finished her hardwood run as the #24 scorer in CHS girls’ hoops history, rattling the rim for 407 points.

And yet, if Georges was a bit greedier, she could have been much higher on the list, which launched in 1974.

It’s to her credit that she never simply accepted life as a gunner, however.

Put in charge of Coupeville’s offensive attack, Georges was a largely pass-first player, always looking to get others involved and keep the defense guessing.

A strong passer, a deceptively talented rebounder, and a master at drawing offensive charges after scrambling back into position, she played the complete game, making her team far better for it.

Everyone enjoys hearing the ball splash through the net, but the smart player, the complete player, knows when to rain down shots, and when to sacrifice for the growth of the team.

Georges, always, was the smart player.

Putting a cap on a stellar prep hoops career. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

As she wraps up her high school days, putting a final stamp on academic life this spring, Georges should be in the mix when the school tallies its Athlete of the Year votes from coaches.

Before then, though, let’s take a moment to give her a different honor.

With no spring sports on her schedule, now is a perfect time to welcome the selfless one to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, when you slide past the Legends tab at the top of the blog, that’s where you’ll find Georges, fulfilling a destiny I foretold years ago.

A mere young gun, but already a hardwood killer. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

From her days as a precocious young star to her time as a seasoned vet, she has been at the forefront of Coupeville athletics seemingly since her arrival in the world as a baby already rockin’ legendary red hair.

Georges was a softball sensation during her little league days, and could have been a tennis ace, if she had ever given in to my pleas.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Celebrate Maddie for what she chose to accomplish, and how she chose to reach those goals.

Serene on the outside, even when rolling massive side eye at her fan section from time to time, but fiery on the inside, with a burning passion which few can match, she is a great example to young athletes coming up behind her.

Play for the name on the front of the jersey and walk away at the end knowing you truly gave everything you had.

Every school, every town, every team needs a Maddie Georges, but you don’t always get what you deserve.

We did, as Coupeville hit the jackpot with her.

She’s something special, both as an athlete and a young woman, and I hope she knows what a positive impact she made.

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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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