Archive for the ‘Olympic League’ Category

   Jake Pease and the rest of Coupeville’s underclassmen will jump to a new league next school year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Change is in the air.

After a very-successful four-year run in the 1A Olympic League, in terms of wins, titles and confidence restored, Coupeville High School is swapping leagues.

Now the question is which direction CHS goes in — down to 2B, where it thrived for many years, or to a new 1A league formed out of the smoldering ruins of its former home in the Cascade Conference.

Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith confirmed Wednesday the school would leave the Olympic League at the end of the 2017-2018 school year and outlined the wide-open future.

In his words:

Coupeville has decided to leave the Olympic League (high school) and North Olympic League (middle school) for the following reasons:

**Out of class time for students: we are very often leaving the school at 11:00-12:00 and not returning until 9:30 at night.

During district tournaments the return times are often much later, as the majority of the tournaments are in the Tacoma area (and this year fast-pitch will be traveling to Lacey to play their tourney) requiring us to take the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry at a much later time.

**Cost: we were over our transportation budget by over $15,000 last year due to the use of the ferry for every away league game in HS, every away game in MS, many non-league away games with the 2A’s of the Olympic League, travel to/from district events in Tacoma, and staying overnight for district tournaments that were two-day tourneys that played on back-to-back days.

**Scheduling: we have to schedule games around the PT/Keystone ferry schedule. Neither the ferry or reservation system works as consistently as we need and we had multiple re-schedules as well as cancellations due to ferry-related issues.

In addition, the 1A’s were planning on reducing the number of league games we played each from three to two, which would result in trying to find an inordinate amount of non-league games for each season.

As an example: in a 20-game season (basketball, baseball, fast-pitch) we would only have 6/20 league games and trying to find 14 non-league games to fill the schedule.

The resulting schedule would not be consistent in days we play, number of games per week, and more importantly, in meaningful league games.

So what’s our path?

We are at the end of the first two years of the WIAA four-year cycle, which means we can apply for two things: re-classification or joining another league; we are doing both.

Our current grades 9-11 enrollment is below the 2B cutoff and we are in process of appealing to the WIAA to move into the 2B classification.

We will not find out their decision until January 28th.

If approved, we would then apply to join the Northwest 2B League (Concrete, Darrington, La Conner, Friday Harbor, Orcas Island).

We don’t know what the WIAA will consider as significant change in enrollment, as this is the first time the WIAA has ever had to render these decisions.

Neither myself or WIAA representatives can really speak to whether we have a legitimate chance of winning the appeal but we are appealing.

We have had a long history of playing all of these teams and play them in non-league games on a regular basis, so it’s not really a stretch for us to move in this direction.

We have also inquired and have begun the process of looking into joining the newly formed 1A North Sound Conference, which currently consists of Sultan, South Whidbey, Granite Falls (appealing to drop from 2A to 1A), King’s, and Cedar Park Christian.

We have had a long history of playing the majority of these teams and play them in non-league games on a regular basis, so it’s not really a stretch for us to move in this direction.

It’s a 1A only league, which we have not been in for over 10 years.

Nothing, other than exiting the Olympic League at the conclusion of this year, is set, and even that needs approval from District 3, District 1, and the WIAA, which should happen, but is not always 100%.

There are a lot of documentation, hearings, and legwork that is currently being done, and will continue to be done before anything firm happens.

I would like to add that I have nothing but positive things to say about the Olympic League and its Athletic Directors.

They brought us in and re-worked an entire league in order to make it happen for Coupeville at a time when we desperately needed a change.

It helped our programs get healthy again, kids turning out, and we have had a lot of successes in the Olympic League.

But, and very importantly, it comes down to what is best for our schools and our kids.

The amount of time and school our kids miss coupled with the reality of the costs has really made us (coaches, administration) look at where we were at and a change was something that needed to occur.

Prior to bringing in four 1A schools in 2014 — Coupeville, Klahowya, Port Townsend and Chimacum — the Olympic League was a 2A conference.

In the three-plus seasons of the 1A division, Coupeville has won 11 league titles and claimed 153 varsity wins against its three 1A foes.

Girls basketball and tennis, which have yet to lose a league contest, each own three titles. Volleyball (2), boys tennis (2) and baseball (1) also have added to the school’s Wall of Honor.

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   Coupeville vs. South Whidbey. Choose the right path, Falcons, and this could be a regular occurrence. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Boom goes the dynamite, indeed.

The 1A/2A Cascade Conference, Coupeville’s old home, is no longer dying, it’s 99.2% dead.

First, everyone refused to play ATM in football.

Then Lakewood pulled up stakes in the middle of the night and fled to the Northwest Conference.

Finally, South Whidbey asked for, and was given approval, to play football as an independent for an undetermined time in an attempt to rebuild its fractured program.

All of that mere cracks in the crust, leading up to the earthquake which erupted Thursday, when news surfaced that King’s and Cedar Park Christian applied to transfer to the Emerald City League.

What was an eight-team league, with four 1A schools and four 2A ones, is one small AD vote from being a five-team league, with just two 1A schools in South Whidbey and Sultan.

One of whom doesn’t play football against league foes.

If King’s and CPC bolt, the Cascade Conference likely splinters for good, something the league’s president, Jason Frederick, acknowledged in an interview with The South Whidbey Record.

From the outside, I see this as a huge positive, not a negative.

The Cascade Conference was always an unwieldy Frankenstein mish-mash.

You had small, rural 1A schools (Coupeville, South Whidbey, Sultan) trying to compete with ginormous 2A schools like Cedarcrest and private schools (ATM, King’s and, recently, CPC) who are allowed to operate under a different set of rules.

Private, religious-orientated King’s and CPC joining the high-end Emerald City League, which currently houses nine Seattle schools which are all, wait for it, private and religious-orientated, is tailor-made.

And the likely collapse of the Cascade Conference gives South Whidbey AD Paul Lagerstedt a perfect opportunity to do what former Coupeville AD Lori Stolee did four years ago — rewrite their school’s destiny.

I’ve said it before and I will say it a million more times (I’m obnoxious like that). The Falcons need to fly the coop and come home.

Mr. Lagerstedt,

Join Coupeville in the Olympic League starting next year and be the AD who made South Whidbey relevant again.

If the Cascade Conference doesn’t die today, it will die tomorrow. You know that deep down in your soul.

There’s a slim chance you could try to join the jump to the ECL, but that makes such little sense I’m not going to even entertain the notion.

I’ll just be back here rolling my eyes until they disappear into the back of my skull.

What you want is a stable league, one which offers SWHS a fighting chance in every sport. An opportunity to be the big dog in some and scrap in the rest. To play other similarly-sized PUBLIC schools.

The Olympic League is what you want. The Olympic League is what you need.

Heck, bring Sultan along if you like. Pounding on the Turks is always a good time.

Do it for a better playing field. Or just do it for the money.

You reinstate your greatest rivalry — Coupeville vs. South Whidbey, Cow Town vs. Hippie Land, Wolves vs. Falcons — in a meaningful fashion, with two 1A schools which sit just 25 miles apart fighting for league supremacy, you make the cash registers ring.

Rivalry games bring in the biggest bucks, and I absolutely guarantee you more cash hits ticket-taker hand for Wolves vs. Falcons than any random game you play against Granite Falls or some obscure Canadian team.

If we’re back in the same league, that’s 10 gates for the sports which charge (the annual football clash and likely three contests apiece in girls basketball, volleyball and boys basketball.)

What do you want? Four paying customers traveling here from the wilds of Granite Falls or a steady stream of cars surging up (or down) the Island?

Heck, you’ll get more fans from Port Townsend and Chimacum (whose fans travel well, and are closer) than you will from schools in Seattle and Everett.

A renewed rivalry, with more at stake. Increased money. And topping it all off? A chance to compete for league titles.

Face it, you have not been putting up championship banners in the Cascade Conference, any more than Coupeville did when we were in the same boat.

Join the Olympic League and you’ll be the second-biggest school (after Klahowya) in terms of student body size. That’s a huge boon.

And, by removing ATM and King’s, you instantly put your good programs back in the title picture and you give your weaker sports a fighting chance to rebuild.

Winning titles is huge.

Having a realistic shot, where every day every one of your programs feels genuinely competitive, is even bigger.

Now, you are guaranteed nothing.

Coupeville and Klahowya are not going to surrender without a fight (good luck trying to dethrone the state title-winning Eagle soccer dynasty), nor will Chimacum softball or Port Townsend track and field, for that matter.

But you instantly go from a constant battle for third-place to a constant battle for first-place, which builds morale, which builds numbers, which circles back around and builds pride.

You think you’re hot stuff?

Good, come prove it against schools similar in size and mentality, and stop bashing your brains out while the private schools play (legally) by their own rules.

And yes, I hear some trepidation about having to catch the Coupeville to Port Townsend ferry if you join the Olympic League.

Small potatoes.

When Coupeville catches the Clinton ferry and travels to Silverdale to play Klahowya (comparable to South Whidbey hopping over to PT or Chimacum), game times are adjusted and varsity often plays before JV.

Small ways to work around the fact we all LIVE ON AN ISLAND in the first place.

You need us. We need you.

It makes sense in every way possible.

So be brave. Be forward-thinking. Be the AD who makes South Whidbey High School sports relevant again.

We’re waiting for you (with a can of whup-ass at the ready),

Your Coupeville friends

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Makana Stone snatched Olympic League MVP honors while leading the Wolves, who won all nine league games by double digits. (John Fisken photos)

  Makana Stone snatched Olympic League MVP honors while leading the Wolves, who won all nine league games by double digits. (John Fisken photos)

Aaron Curtin, state caliber.

Aaron Curtin, state caliber.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

The first year of the all-new, all-exciting 1A Olympic League is all but done — softball is mid-way through its season and all the other sports are in the postseason, but all league games have been played for 2014-2015.

So, how did Coupeville High School do?

Let’s just say quality beats quantity.

Despite being the smallest of the four schools in the league (with just half the student body of Klahowya), the Wolves more than held their own in the 10 sports in which they compete as a team.

For this exercise, we are looking at football, volleyball, girls and boys soccer, girls and boys tennis, girls and boys basketball, softball and baseball.

Golf doesn’t count, as Christine Fields (who just won the Olympic League postseason tourney by 10 strokes, I might add) was a one-woman team.

She played against 1A/2A Cascade Conference competition during the regular season, when she trained and traveled with South Whidbey.

We’re also not counting track, which is largely an individual sport inside a team one.

With most meets involving multiple teams from 1A and 2A (and, sometimes 3A), team wins and losses have little meaning.

Seriously, go look at the Olympic League website and try and figure out how they compute track team records. It makes no sense.

P.S. — If we go by their convoluted computing, Coupeville is the 1A girls’ regular season track champs.

But all anyone really looks at is how individual athletes (and relay teams) do at the state meet, so we’re not adding track into this team tally.

The stats:

Student body size (WIAA numbers at start of the school year):

Klahowya (455)
Port Townsend (327)
Chimacum (237)
Coupeville (225)

Total league wins across the 10 sports:

Klahowya (52)
Coupeville (40)
Chimacum (23)
Port Townsend (20)

League titles:

Klahowya (5) Volleyball, girls soccer, boys tennis, baseball, boys soccer
Coupeville (2) Girls basketball, girls tennis
Chimacum (2) Boys basketball, softball
Port Townsend (1) Football

Best league record:

Coupeville girls basketball (9-0) **Wolf JV also went 9-0**
Klahowya baseball (9-0)

State titles (so far):

Klahowya girls soccer

More positives for Coupeville, you ask?

The Wolves may have lost the regular season boys’ tennis title, but they stormed back to dethrone Klahowya in the postseason league tourney.

Plus, unlike Chimacum and Port Townsend, they garnered at least one league win in every one of the 10 sports, just like Klahowya.

In the end, what can we take away from all this?

One, Klahowya is good, especially in soccer, but didn’t really dominate across the board as much as you might have expected with its size advantage.

It is not ATM or King’s, and the Wolves can compete with the Eagles in almost any sport, any night.

Two, the numbers back my feeling that we are back in a golden age for female athletes at CHS.

Both of the new league title banners going up on the gym wall come from feminine sweat, grit and hard work, and Wolf girls accounted for 60% (24 of 40) of Coupeville’s league wins in year one.

Now, the gentlemen had their moments.

The Wolves were the only team to beat league champ Port Townsend in football and senior netter Aaron Curtin is going to state as a singles player.

In the end, take this — year one was a very good start. Year two, if the Wolves, girls and boys, believe and work, should be even better.

You know what the league is now. Go take control of it, in every sport.

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Malia Henderson

Malia Henderson

With Coupeville leaving the 1A/2A Cascade Conference and joining Port Townsend, Chimacum and Klahowya in the 1A Olympic League this fall, now is a great time to learn a bit about some of the players who will face off with the Wolves in the future.

Malia Henderson doesn’t mind being in the crossfire.

The Port Townsend senior anchors both of her teams, playing goalie for the girls’ soccer squad and catcher for the Redhawk softball team. Both positions put her in the heart of the action, something she openly craves.

“I like positions that involve strategy and quick responses,” Henderson said. “I like the strategic aspects of playing team sports; it’s amazing to watch the cohesiveness of the team come together throughout the season.”

While she enjoys both of her sports, it’s soccer, where Coupeville will see her for the first time, that ultimately captures her heart.

“Soccer is my favorite sport,” Henderson said. “I like how physically demanding being a goalkeeper is; the position requires a great deal of focus and I love the adrenalin rush I get when the other team is shooting at me.”

When she steps into the net, Henderson goes in expecting to be at her best, and a large part of that is based on the hard work she and her teammates put in between games.

“I am a good leader and have a good work ethic and take practices seriously,” she said. “I am a strong strategic player; I’m always thinking a play ahead.

“I like to size up each team we play and know the other teams strengths and weaknesses,” Henderson added. “I play very aggressively and go into each game thinking we are going to win.”

A big fan of backpacking and mountaineering (she and her dad climbed Mt. Rainier this summer), Henderson splits time between PTHS and Peninsula College, where she participates in the Running Start program.

As she prepares for her final year at Port Townsend — she moved to town in the 3rd grade — Henderson will face new challenges, from different league foes (“I have never played against Coupeville before, but I am ready to see them on the field”) to a school mascot change.

After 88 years as the Redskins, Port Townsend students voted to retire that mascot and become the Redhawks starting with the 2014-2015 season.

“I fully support the change of the mascot, and I am looking forward to becoming a Redhawk for my last year at Port Townsend High School,” Henderson said. “My goal for my last year is to play my absolute hardest and leave it all out on the field.

“I want to enjoy my last year at the high school and my first year as a Redhawk!”

During her final months as a high school athlete, Henderson will continue to turn to the people closest to her for support.

Her family and a string of coaches have been a reliable rooting section, helping guide her into becoming a successful young woman.

“My parents have always been huge supports with my interests,” Henderson said. “When I first came to Port Townsend, Liz and Kevin Coker were my first soccer and baseball coaches. They have always been my biggest supports in my extended family.

Steve Shively gave me one-on-one coaching during my first two years at the high school,” she added. “I have two wonderful coaches in Colin Foden and Tom Gambill, and I love all my teammates. I couldn’t do any of this without them!”

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Chimacum's most famous export.

Chimacum’s most famous export.

Small talk. It’s a big game.

As Coupeville prepares to move into a new league this fall, you may find yourself face-to-face with fans from new schools, trying to find a common ground.

Of course, you want to be prepared, ready to pepper your conversation with little tidbits of info that make the person on the other side think you know their town inside out.

You might be bluffing, but they’ll never know.

So, here we go, some meaningless facts on the three towns which will send schools into the new 1A Olympic League to vie with your Wolves for athletic supremacy.

You’re welcome.


*Despite the town being named for the American Indians who once occupied the land (the Chimakum tribe) the school mascot is … the Cowboys. Awkward.

*Author Betty MacDonald grew up on a local chicken farm and turned her childhood into a best-selling book, “The Egg and I.” Later, the book was transformed into an Oscar-nominated film in 1947 starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert.

Ma and Pa Kettle, who were supporting characters in the original film, spun off into their own series. Nine movies were produced starring Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, and the series was so popular it saved Universal Studios from bankruptcy.

Given second life, the studio went on to release “Jaws,” “E.T.” and “Jurassic Park” in later years and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012.

*’70s folk singer Linda Perhacs, who worked with Daft Punk on their 2006 film “Electroma,” recorded a song called “Chimacum Rain.” You can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb59WCJTs_Q

Port Townsend:

*Forget about Cowboys. The school nickname for 88 years was the Redskins, until a change (amid much heated debate on both sides) this year.

During the search for a new nickname, one of the finalists was Sasquatch, but it wasn’t to be, as the more mundane Redhawks won out.

*Legendary sci-fi writer Frank Herbert (“Dune“) and mountain climber Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mt. Everest, both called the town home at one point.

*Glass, a progressive rock trio that played in the ’60s and ’70s, including at the first Jimi Hendrix Memorial Concert, consists of three PTHS grads (Jeff Sherman, Greg Sherman, Jerry Cook).

After being bumped out by disco and punk, they vanished for a bit, then resurfaced in time for Y2K and are back at it again.

To sample some of their recent work, which has a “Twin Peaks” goes to church vibe, try: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su_5AEpSuy0


*Officially known as the Klahowya Secondary School, and servicing grades 7-12 in Silverdale, the school was a 2A school up through last year, and just slid under the cutoff to drop to 1A when the new counts were taken in the spring.

*The youngest of the four schools which will call the Olympic League home, KSS was opened for the 1996-1997 school year, and claimed a 2A state title in girls’ soccer in 1999.

*”Klahowya” is Chinook for “Greetings” and the name is currently plastered on an 800-passenger, 87-car ferry that plies the waters in the San Juans. It also graced a sternwheel steamer that operated on the Columbia River from 1910-1915.

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