Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

Denny Zylstra, planning some shenanigans.

Denny Zylstra is one of the true big-timers in the history of Coupeville athletics.

His runs as an athlete, coach, and die-hard supporter have been well-documented, and he has been a member of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame for some time.

Today, though, thanks to Charlie Burrow, we have a story about a young Denny which I hadn’t previously heard.

One day in the spring of 1958, the Coupeville High School baseball team was returning from a game in Port Townsend aboard the PT-Keystone ferry.

The players were still in uniform because the county stadium where we played in downtown PT didn’t have showers – the team suited up at the Coupeville school, then went by bus to Keystone and walked aboard the ferry.

At that time the PT ferry dock was further north than the current dock and only about a block from the stadium, so CHS saved having to pay the fare for the bus by having the team walk aboard.

Anyway, at some point after we departed PT, someone dared Denny Zylstra (CHS ’58), the team’s leading pitcher, and prankster, to jump off the ferry while it was underway.

He said he’d do it for $35.

So, when enough pledges were raised from players and supporters to meet his price, he began to strip off his uniform preparatory to making the plunge.

But, unfortunately (or, fortunately for Denny) a member of the ferry crew who’d gotten wind of the proceedings intervened and warned us that if he jumped, they’d be calling the sheriff and Denny would be arrested when we arrived at Keystone.

So much for that idea.

PS — Don’t remember who won the ball game.

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The olden days, when things were rowdier.

Everyone has a story, and this is a good one.

It comes to us from Charlie Burrow, Coupeville High School Class of ’61, and he offers it up for consideration for induction into my Hall o’ Fame.

Boom. Done deal.

And now on to the story:

Here’s a somewhat long winded item I wrote up in May 2007, on the occasion of an all-class reunion held in the old main school building that was built in 1943 and was now scheduled for demolition.

When I was in school in Coupeville (1956-61), the elementary school playfield and high school athletic fields were all part of one large undivided grassy area behind the school.

During the fall, portable bleachers were set up beside the football field, which was laid out in the west part of the area, then, in the spring, they were moved to the baseball diamond, in the southeast corner.

The entire area was used by high school students for physical education (PE) classes and as a playground by elementary school students during lunch and recess breaks.

Supervision was sometimes spotty. For example, I dislocated my wrist while playing in an illegal tackle football game during lunch break while in the 8th grade.

On another occasion, an elementary school student was severely injured when he was struck on the head by a lead shot-put thrown by a member of the high school track and field team.

A funnier incident (to some) occurred one afternoon during my freshman year, when I was out on the field during PE class.

The football coaches, Mr. Boushey and Mr. Olmstead, were in the process of digging holes to accommodate new goal posts for the football field.

But the ground was very hard and they weren’t making much progress.

So, they had obtained some dynamite from somewhere and were using it to blast out the holes.

We all stood around and watched as they cut dynamite sticks in half, then attached a fuse to a blasting cap and inserted it into one of the half-sticks of dynamite.

Then, one of them would place the stick into the hole, light the fuse, and back off to wait for the explosion.

Except, one stick didn’t explode.

So, they waited, and waited, and waited, and finally, one of them (I don’t remember which) carefully approached the hole and was reaching down when, all of a sudden, “BANG!”

Someone (who shall remain nameless – class of ’58, I believe) had set off a firecracker behind him.

I never heard so many swear words come out of one teacher’s mouth in my life!

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And yes, we already had library cards.

I grew up in libraries.

My mom was the children’s librarian in Kelso when my sister Sarah and I were younger, and we spent a lot of time in that two-story building stashed on the corner of a street next to the post office.

She got us our first library cards not long after we started walking, which made sense, as she spent her life reading.

Everyone in the family had a story about how if they wanted to find my mom when she was young, they would go searching only to find her every time, stashed away, face in book, lost to the world.

As Sarah and I were growing up, our dad was a carpet cleaner/window washer, and each year the Kelso Library would shut down over the winter holidays and our parents would clean the joint from top to bottom.

While they did that, we got the run of the locked-down library, eating at 2 AM in the librarian’s kitchen — a magical place normally off limits to anyone not an employee — and I got to read piles of Mad Magazine and Sports Illustrated while camped out in a carpet-lined bath tub that sat downstairs in the kid’s section.

This was still a time of card catalogs and before DVDs and other electronic doodads infiltrated a kingdom dominated by the written (and published) word.

Librarians working downstairs, like my mom, used a dumbwaiter to send books upstairs, an old-school touch which still fascinates me.

Even after we moved to Tumwater when I was in the sixth grade, and then Oak Harbor when I was a high school senior (my mom finding new libraries two minutes after each arrival) we continued to go back for the holiday cleaning adventures.

The final trip came in 1990, when the first season of Twin Peaks, the defining TV show of my life, was in reruns.

By that time the Kelso Library had a TV behind the upstairs counter, where the librarians could watch it (Why? Good question…), so, in between hours of reading (and trying to do as little work as possible), I watched an episode unfold in surreal fashion.

Slouched in a chair in the dark of a closed-down library, as an eerie train whistle sounded nearby, staring out on deserted streets which looked a lot like those in the original Twin Peaks, it was one of the great TV experiences of my life.

Normally, when I watched the show at our house out at Cornet Bay, it was followed by me walking up a dark, winding gravel road next to our house to where my sister was babysitting.

As I went up that road, the same type of trees you saw mysteriously swaying on Twin Peaks were moving in the wind all around me.

Then an owl would hoot, and I would curse David Lynch, that twisted, magnificent son of a gun, as every hair on the back of my neck exploded.

Watching the episode in the shuttered-up library was just as creepy in its own way, the image of a maniacally laughing Killer BOB reflected on the window, as the train whistle crawled up my spine.

I haven’t been back to the Kelso Library since that trip, and yet, 27 years later, I can close my eyes and perfectly see every nook and cranny of my home away from home.

I’m sure a trip back there would reveal that it, like my childhood home (which I have seen) are no longer the same. Probably better to let it remain suspended in memory.

That library, and all the others I have lived in, offer deep connections to my late mother, who gave Sarah and I a love of reading and sent us on a writer’s path.

This is all coming to the surface right now, because my second book, Bow Down to Cow Town, is in the process of landing in local libraries.

Any day now the Sno-Isle library system will officially stock two copies of my collection of small town sports stories.

One book is headed to Coupeville, another to Oak Harbor, and they’re “in transit” as of this morning.

They will join Memoirs of an Idiot, which looked up at me from the biography section, sharing shelf space with a book by Nelson Mandela(!), as I strolled through the Coupeville Library yesterday.

The world has changed, certainly.

Computers, DVDs, CDs and other stuff share space with books and magazines at libraries, while card catalogs (and dumbwaiters, probably) are long gone, though Twin Peaks is back(!) and as mystifying as ever.

I know people consume a lot of their reading in non-printed form (this blog, for one), but it’s still special to me to see my book land in a library.

I don’t make any money off the transaction, and who knows how many times it will be checked out. Neither part of that really matters, though.

It’s there, words on paper, a book, and it’s in a library.

My mom isn’t with us anymore, but I know she would be immensely proud of what Sarah (who has somewhere around 237 books in print) and I are accomplishing with our writing.

Libraries are life. It’s nice to be a small part of keeping that alive.


Seriously, my books are in the library system:



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Old-school Megan Smith, ready to lay down a butt-whuppin'. (Photo poached from Smith)

   “I will break you, and they ain’t ever gonna put the pieces back together again!!” Old-school Megan Smith, ready to lay down a butt-whuppin’.

One day, one game.

Can you take an entire four-year high school basketball career and boil it down to one night and say, “This here, this is the greatest moment that player ever had?”

Well, maybe.

In some cases, there is a transcendent moment.

Kacie Kiel hitting a three-ball from the corner to cap a stunning eight-point comeback in the final minute against Sequim, or Kassie Lawson and Ian Smith banking in miracle treys to stun King’s and South Whidbey, respectively, at the buzzer.

But in the case of Ian’s big sister, Megan, the highlight show was pretty much every night.

When we discuss who the greatest Coupeville High School girls basketball player of all time might be, Megan Smith is on the very short list, with Novi Barron, Brianne King, Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby and Makana Stone.

Maybe toss Marlene Grasser, Tina Lyness, Sarah Mouw and Lexie Black into the mix, as well.

For one thing, if Mouw had more than one season in the red and black, there’s little doubt she’s in that top five.

But, while we’re arguing (people speak in hushed whispers when they talk about Novi, while Makana is flat-out the best pure athlete, in any sport, I covered live), it’s safe to say Megan Smith can put her numbers up against anyone.

Today though, thanks to me randomly leafing through old score-books, we’re going to focus on a night that took place 2,831 days ago.

Coming into the “ancient” night of Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009, the Wolves were struggling, having lost 14 straight games.

Long past were early-season memories of beating Concrete, Friday Harbor and Tenino and instead harsh beatings at the hands of ATM and King’s were now front and center.

Now, I’m taking a leap here, since I wasn’t in the stands during the 2008-2009 hoops season.

I was in the midst of my own skid, in the final months of a 15-year video store career.

The 12+ Videoville years had been awesome sauce, but a rocky run at David’s DVD Den would finally implode on Cinco de Mayo of 2009, when, not for the first, or probably last, time, I burnt my bridges in spectacular fashion.

So, I doubt Feb. 17, when I was likely fighting the non-stop croup that afflicted me through my final days in a cruddy old building, far away from the sun, offered me much personal salvation.

For the Wolves, though, it came in the form of a much-needed win, one that came on their home floor and one that was inspired by one of the best performances put up by their shooting star.

Facing off with league rival Friday Harbor for the second time, Coupeville came out hot, and balanced.

Smith dropped in five in the first quarter, but so did Lawson, while Cassidi Rosenkrance added four (the trio all hit a three-ball) and CHS built a 14-6 lead after one.

The long-range game, and the balanced scoring, continued in the second eight minutes, as Kendra O’Keefe nailed a pair of treys and Smith tossed in five more (included a shot from long-range).

Lawson added a free throw and the Wolves went into the locker room up 26-15.

Something changed in the second half, though (and again, I’m going off a seven-year-old score-book and not first-hand knowledge) and Smith apparently decided it was time to drop the hammer.

She poured in 20 of her team’s 25 second-half points and Coupeville held off a late Friday Harbor rally to snap the skid with a 51-44 victory.

Smith banged home four baskets in both the third and fourth quarter (including her third trey), while also netting her first free-throws of the night.

Nine points in the third gave her a modest 19 (the total she finished with in the games before and after this one), before 11 down the stretch rounded out her game-high 30-point assault on the bucket.

Lawson backed Smith up with eight, while O’Keefe (6), Rosenkrance (5) and Mandi Murdy (2) also scored.

Katie Smith, Courtney Boyd, Jessy Caselden, Taylor Sherman, Marie Hesselgrave and Amanda Manker all saw floor time as well, while Courtney Arnold is on the roster, but appears to have been a (surely enthusiastic) sideline supporter that night.

Few Wolves have ever put the ball in the bucket more consistently than Megan Smith.

In the three score-books I have from her prep career, she broke double digits in an uncanny 51 of 67 games played.

But that 30-point night ranks as her best scoring performance (again, I’m missing a book for one of her seasons).

And you’d have to think, based on where the Wolves were and how much they needed a win at the time, it went down as one of the best nights Smith (and her teammates) had on the court.

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Bob Barker

Bob Barker, old school style. (Photo courtesy Jeff Stone)

Curt Youderian

Modern-day Curt Youderian, with daughter Corynn. (Photo courtesy Corynn Youderian)

Bob Barker spent 31+ years at Coupeville High School, working as a teacher, coach and Athletic Director, affecting countless lives over the years.

A 1959 grad of what would become Western Washington University, he led baseball and basketball (both boys and girls) teams at CHS, taking three to state.

Hailed by his former players as “the best coach I ever had” and “one of the three or four people who shaped who I am today,” his impact lingers long after his retirement.

In this series, Barker responds to my questions as only he can, eloquently and passionately.

Today’s question: “If you had to pick a highlight from your coaching career, what would it be and why?”


In response to your final question:

I have already mentioned several highlights, concerning championships, district tournaments, and state tournament entries, etc.

However, there is one that I have not yet mentioned and it concerns the boy’s 1973 – 1974 basketball team.

Out of the 12 years that I coached boys varsity basketball, it is the only team that lost more games than it won. 

Now, one might make the assumption that it was a year and team, that as coach, I would be most likely to forget.

Actually, just the opposite of that is true as I have fond memories of that team and take great pride in its accomplishments.

The team consisted of four seniors, Steve Bisset, Les Jacobson, Rick Keefe and Curt Youderian.

If my memory serves me, Curt had dropped out of sports for a couple of years and decided that as a senior he would like to give it another try. 

At 6-foot-1, Curt was our so called “big man.” 

Junior Scotty Franzen was probably our most experienced player. 

In addition we had three sophomores, Randy Keefe, Bill Jarrell and Mark Bissett, who all would later play big roles in getting Coupeville entries into state basketball tournaments in 1975 and 1976.

We knew at the beginning of the season that scoring was not going to be our strong point so we spent a great deal of time on practicing our defensive schemes. 

There isn’t a lot of glamour to defense and it takes a lot of hard work and effort. 

But defense kept us in most games and due to the positive leadership demonstrated by the aforementioned seniors and the development of the sophomores I found this to be one of my most enjoyable years in coaching.


Bob Barker

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