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Archive for the ‘Ranting and Raving’ Category

Sports provided a spark for Natasha Bamberger (left), launching her to a life rich in personal and professional success. Current Wolves like Alana Mihill (center) and Catherine Lhamon follow in her footsteps. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

I believe in you.

One week from today, on the morning of Monday, August 26, a new high school sports year officially begins. And I want to see every single Coupeville student in grades 9-12 at a practice.

EVERY … SINGLE … ONE.

OK, technically, football kicks off practice five days earlier, on Wednesday, Aug. 21, but let’s not get caught up in technicalities.

Anyway, a week from today, Wolf boys tennis, volleyball, girls soccer, cheer, and cross country athletes join their gridiron compadres, and the countdown to the beginning of fall sports is fully underway.

But let’s get back to my point, which is a simple one.

If you are a student at CHS, I want to see you play a sport.

Whether you’re a life-long athlete, or have never stepped onto a field or court before, opportunity abounds in Cow Town. Take advantage.

Your school has a small student body, one of the tiniest in 1A (which is why CHS will likely move down to 2B next school year), and it’s set up for everyone to shine.

For one thing, there are no cuts at this school. You show up, you stay around, you are on the team.

You play, you — and your parents, and your grandparents, and all your Instagram followers and on and on — will see your name on the internet.

Often.

Coupeville Sports is unique in that it covers every level of athletics in this town plopped on the prairie in the middle of a rock anchored in the water in a far-flung corner of the Pacific Northwest.

You play varsity? You’ll see your name (and probably your photo).

You play JV? You’ll see your name (and probably your photo).

You play C-Team? You’ll see your name (and probably your photo).

State champion or role player? You will be celebrated, you will have something to read today, something to look back at years from now (unless the internet implodes).

Sports build confidence, they help/force students to stay on top of their classroom work (if you want to stay eligible), and they offer a unique way to interact with others.

With CHS having increased its fall sports offerings by bringing back cross country last year after a two-decade absence, there is something for everyone.

If you look at me and say “I have no skills. I can’t play volleyball, or football, or soccer, or fly through the air and do double back-flips like a cheerleader,” I would say two things back to you.

First, “You’d be surprised what you can do with no skills.”

I have seen CHS tennis coach Ken Stange take countless players, girls and boys, put a tennis racket in their hand for the first time in their lives, and transform them.

They walk on the court not knowing how to keep score, or the proper way to swing, and, four years later, they walk off with athletic letters, awards, and a confidence which has bloomed ten-fold.

Let the magic man do what he does.

And second, if you can put one foot in front of the other, or at least come reasonably close, cross country offers a safe harbor.

Of all sports, cross country and track and field offer maybe the easiest access point for someone who claims to be a non-athlete.

You essentially compete against yourself, each PR along the way a personal validation.

Whether you’re the quietest, smallest, library-lovingest young girl or boy, or the student who got an eight-inch growth spurt over the summer break who is trying to adjust to their new height, the trail was meant for you.

There’s no contact, you don’t have to suddenly learn a bunch of rules, no one expects you to digest a playbook.

You run, and you’d be amazed where it will take you.

We have had two NCAA D-1 scholarship college athletes emerge from Coupeville in the 2000’s, and Kyle and Tyler King landed at Oklahoma and U-Dub thanks to running.

No less impressive, in its own way, is listening to the kid who finished 97th in a high school race, the kid who rarely talks, light up like a Christmas tree when they realize they beat their previous-best time by two seconds.

But this conversation isn’t just for the first-time athlete.

I’m also talking to the Wolves who aren’t going to play because they want to get (or hold) a job, want to take driver’s ed, or offer a billion other “reasonable excuses.”

Don’t. Just don’t.

You will get to spend a great deal of your life working. Work is overrated.

You will get to spend a great deal of your life driving. Driving is overrated.

But you only get four years of high school sports. Twelve seasons total. It will be over faster than you expect.

At this point of your life, my words won’t mean the same as they will in 10 years, in 20, or 30.

It’s then you will have regret, then that you will wish you could go back.

You’ll be stuck in traffic on a freeway somewhere, on a way to a job you don’t want to go to, and it will hit you then.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When you’re sitting in that car, on the way to that job, you could instead reflect on all your memories from a better time, a time when you were a high school athlete.

You are young right now, somewhere in the 13-18 age group.

The decision is yours to make. Choose wisely.

There are a million reasons to play sports during your high school years. Find the one which means something deeply personal to you.

But play. Just play.

I believe in you. Believe in yourself.

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Coupeville fans await the start of a new school year. (David Svien photo)

The calendar turns to August, and the countdown begins.

As we sit here Sunday morning, there’s 17 days until the start of fall football practice (Aug. 21), with cross country, volleyball, tennis, cheer, and soccer all officially ramping up Aug. 26.

The Coupeville High School booters are first to take the field, with a jamboree in Oak Harbor Sept. 5, while the Wolf football squad gets the first official game a night later at home against Port Townsend.

After that, we’re fully into the 2019-2020 school year.

Coupeville Sports turns seven years old Aug. 15, so this will be the eighth school year in the history of a blog which has already run 7,111 articles (as of this one).

If you’re new to this, here’s what to expect, based on the last seven years.

If I stay focused, I’ll produce 75-100 articles a month going forward, covering all CHS and Coupeville Middle School teams, as well as local community sports.

This will be a mixture of game and feature stories, and I try and report on every game either the same day it happens, or by the next morning.

Our unwritten agreement is that when you get up in the AM, and have your coffee, or cold cereal, or your coffee in your cold cereal, if it’s that kind of morning, you’ll be able to read about everything which happened the night before.

Sports-wise, at least.

I operate on my own and am NOT EMPLOYED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.

If you have an issue with anything I write, you’ll get much further by talking to me than by harassing administration and/or coaches.

Email me at davidsvien@hotmail.com, message me on Facebook or talk to me at a game.

The same works if you have a story idea.

Coupeville Sports, unlike the local newspapers, operates without a pay wall.

Always has. Always will.

If you want to read for free, so be it. But, if you like what I’m doing and want to be part of my support group, even better.

If you want to help keep my fingers pounding away into the wee hours of the morning, donations are greatly appreciated and can be done in person, by mail (165 Sherman, Coupeville, WA), or through PayPal.

Here’s a handy-dandy link:

https://www.paypal.com/paypalme2/DavidSvien

I’m not a non-profit, but I don’t make much profit. And I’m fine with that.

So, onward we go, into a new school year, the second, and, most likely, final one in the North Sound Conference.

Will CHS, one of the smallest 1A schools in the land, be granted its freedom by the new classification counts and return to 2B after many years?

Who will be the CHS Athlete of the Year winners? My money is on Maya and Sean Toomey-Stout pulling off a family daily double.

There’s a thousand other questions lingering — some big, some small — all waiting to have their answers documented on the bloggiest blog in all of Cow Town.

Here … we … go.

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I may use a different style than the reporters and editors at these publications, but I stand with them.

If you look at the ads here on Coupeville Sports, you may have a slight surprise.

Go take a look – on a computer they run down the right side of the page, while on a phone they’re camped out below the five stories on my main page.

The first three ads are for me personally – a PayPal donation button, a “buy my book” appeal, and a connection to my Twitter feed.

After that, starting today, are ads for the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record, which most people would tend to think of as my “rivals.”

Which, for those who have followed my sometimes-rocky relationship with the papers, the bigger of which I worked at as a freelance writer, mail room/press room roustabout, and, eventually, Sports Editor, may seem a bit odd.

Which is why I want to be very clear about a few things here.

First, they aren’t paid ads. I chose to put them up there, and, when you click on the ads, it’ll kick you to each paper’s web site.

I get nothing from this, financially or quid pro quo in terms of advertising.

I approached them, not the other way around.

Secondly, I’ve (mostly) mellowed over the years, and see little reason these days to view Whidbey’s papers as rivals.

Two of my biggest mentors, News-Times Sports Editor Jim Waller and Publisher Keven R. Graves, continue to fight the good fight, day after day, and I have nothing but respect for what they do and how they do it.

Crime reporter Jessie Stensland, who has been at the paper since almost before Deception Pass Bridge was built, is a righteous heir to Mary Kay Doody, the late bulldog reporter who carved out a legend relentlessly chasing the truth, slamming her phone against the wall which (barely) separated our desks when I was fresh out of high school.

With this blog, which is about to hit seven years in August, I sort of run parallel to the path set by the News-Times and Record.

With a lot of jerky-jerky moves along the way.

I’m more biased (call it being pro-Coupeville), I’m more prone to hyperbole (and a lot of exclamation points, at least back in the day) and my stories often are a mix of news and personal opinion.

But I don’t hide any of that from my readers, and I try and stay fairly close to the journalistic ideals I was taught by Fred Obee, Lionel Barona, Kasia Pierzga, Geoff Newton, Ellen Slater, and others.

If you come to Coupeville Sports, there is no question who is producing this, why they are producing this, and just where you can find me if you want to praise me, bribe me with cookies, or throw a royal snit fit about something I’ve written.

And the reporters, editors, and publisher of the News-Times and Record are just as open, just as transparent.

Whidbey’s newspapers are owned by Sound Publishing, which is a subsidiary of Black Press, and it takes no time at all for anyone to know that.

Yes, Canada ultimately pays the bills, but these journalists live here, in the communities where they report.

Which is a long way of getting around to why I chose to offer those ads to the News-Times and Record, and why now.

Because I want my readers to know without a doubt I stand with the journalists at those papers.

We may come at it from slightly different directions, we may have differing opinions on things such as pay walls, but I respect what they do, and I respect that they do it without hiding their identities or agenda.

Unlike, it would seem, Whidbey Buzz.

If you spend any time on Facebook, you’ve likely seen their broadcasts over the past two months.

A honey-voiced anchor, operating in front of a digital screen, wearing an assortment of well-tailored suits, offering a slightly off-key assortment of “stories” over the course of four to five minutes.

No reporters, little actual footage shot on the Island, just the soothing tones of Steve Schorr, your play-by-play man offering up what amounts to a series of re-hashed press releases.

It looks slick. It sounds slick. It feels slick.

And, even if you wonder why the southern end of our very-large Island doesn’t seem to exist in their world, why Coupeville is mentioned less often than Camano or Skagit County, and why he keeps saying “in Whidbey” instead of “on Whidbey,” it goes down fairly easy.

Mainly because 99.2% of people won’t do any follow-up after watching the broadcasts.

Which Whidbey Buzz may appreciate, because, if you pull up the curtain even an inch, you start to have serious questions.

There’s a web site which has no info, and has covered up even who owns the domain.

Other than links to their broadcasts, there’s a small paragraph at the bottom of the site which says “learn how you can become a community sponsor and support the Whidbey Buzz.”CONTACT US TODAY!

However, they have yet to respond to my email about just how I can join the favored few. And I had $5 burning a hole in the pocket of my shorts.

Check out the Whidbey Buzz Facebook page or Facebook group and you find little beyond links to the broadcasts.

There’s an out-of-state phone number (which goes to Vegas), and a “team member” listed — Rick Manning, who owns Rigel Studios, a TV production company in Vegas.

After a little light needling, that company’s Facebook account responded to me, then declined to speak about Whidbey Buzz, citing an NDA.

I got a little more from the Buzz Facebook page, with an emphasis on little.

The unseen page admin was loathe to answer questions, though they did offer to send me a “VIP invite” to a meet-and-greet with Schorr they publicized, while nimbly sidestepping where, when, and if, said meeting would actually go down.

Leaving the spelling mistakes as they were posted by the admin, I was informed “most of the crew are long time residences of the island,” (they’re houses? – I kid, I kid…) but that they were “gathering bios will be on the web site.”

Cause that’s how news operations work, posting bios months after the web site goes live, said no news director ever.

And what crew, asks the man watching a man sitting in front of a digital projection, offering virtually nothing which proves anyone involved has come within two states of Whidbey Island.

To give them some small credit, there is this on the Facebook page, which comes complete with odd uses of capitol letters and the distinct feeling of listening to someone talk without ever really saying anything.

We Know here at The Whidbey Buzz, that many people are asking questions about who were are. As a non-profit News Operation we Pride ourselves in providing reliable, nonpartisan , deeply rooted thoughtful journalism. At our core is the truth and facts of stories. We look only to support the community, and as a non-profit newsroom we rely on donations and sponsorships to support our work. We don’t sell advertising but rather hope the community seeks to support what we are doing. We just thought you would like to know.

As a writer who survives in just that way – community support – my first, last and only follow-up question is, so how do you not have a donate button on Facebook, or your web site, or any place?

Oh, and there’s a Whidbey Buzz Instagram account, which only follows celebrities. As you do.

Now, I’m a sportswriter, not an investigative journalist, but a few more minutes on the internet reveals Schorr is deeply involved in his community … in Vegas.

He worked for Cox Communications there for many years, has an elementary school named in his honor, and is involved in about 2,000 active businesses.

LinkedIn lists Schorr as the President/CEO of Vegas Life TV, Chief Strategy Officer of LV.net, and Founder/President of Consulting Nevada, and that’s just the start for what seems like a very hard-working man.

Oh, and he also hosts Under the Vegas Sun.

There have been hundreds of episodes of that show, in which Schorr gets out and about, conducting interviews with movers and shakers and Vegas strip entertainers in one-on-one chats held at the house Liberace once owned.

I watched a couple of episodes on YouTube and it’s clear Schorr has a deep personal connection to what he’s doing … on that show.

On Whidbey Buzz, I’m not sure I feel the same love coming through.

Professional, slick copy-reading, yes.

But how many times can he refer to it as “in Whidbey, in Oak Harbor, and surrounding communities,” and wonder if he’s forgotten Whidbey is an Island, which means you’d be ON it, not IN it.

The show uses virtually the exact same opening graphics, intro, and style as another show Schorr helped anchor, Newsline America, produced by Rigel Studios.

There’s also The Now Report and the debris of several other shows still lingering out there in the corners of the internet, a veritable web of Vegas-produced shows which seemingly came and went.

Except for Under the Vegas Sun, which again, tip of the hat. That’s the one place I feel a genuine love for what’s being crafted.

But how does a bonafide Vegas dude end up anchoring a slick, yet sort of empty, broadcast focused on a mostly-obscure Island 1,150 miles away in Washington state?

Mr. Schorr, when I spoke to him (or his Facebook admin, cause who really knows for sure on Messenger) said, “I have friends and family that live there.

“Over years I have been there many times just wanted to be able to provide an independent voice for the community. It’s as simple as that. I have great contacts there have had for some time and feel I can provide important information to residents and it doesn’t matter where I hang my hat.”

When I asked him if maybe including that on his web site would be helpful, his response was “I will talk about that when I get up there within the next two weeks. Promise.”

Though he also studiously avoided my question about the when and where of such an in-person meet-up.

But, you know, I want to believe him.

I watch Under the Vegas Sun and I see a man with talent, a man good at his job, a man who could sell you just about anything.

So, maybe this doesn’t play out the way some have suggested.

Maybe the first, and only, sponsor Whidbey Buzz gets isn’t the backers of a proposed housing development here on Whidbey which has been denied numerous times and is in need of positive publicity.

Maybe, as the show shifts to include “rants,” as Mr. Schorr promised it would to a Whidbey Facebook community group which lives and dies for such activity, those rants won’t beat the drum for that development while bad-mouthing a different one on the other side of town.

You know, small-town people with their conspiracy theories…

But maybe I need to be more open and trusting, and buy into the dream that a bunch of shy Vegas residents just want to come promote our Island in their own way.

Like I said earlier, I stand with journalists who operate in the sunshine, who put their names and faces to their work, who offer their readers (or viewers) a chance to interact with them in a legitimate manner.

Maybe Whidbey Buzz will do that. You never know.

I’ll even give the Vegas brigade some incentive.

Embrace transparency, let us into your world, pull back the curtain and let the sun shine in, give us a reason to believe.

Do that, and I’ll give you a free ad the same as I did our local newspapers.

I have a larger readership than you may think, and just imagine all the positive … buzz.

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Like the Wolf cheer squad, which made me this t-shirt, you can support Coupeville Sports.

I believe “Coupeville Sports” is unique in the state of Washington, as I have yet to stumble across a blog, newspaper or magazine which matches my output.

We’re talking:

*6,674 stories in six years and five months, an average of three stories a day, every single day.

*Knowing, without a doubt, weekday or weekend, when you sit down for your cold cereal or coffee, I stayed up until 2 AM so there would be a story on EVERY game played the night before, fresh ‘n ready for your peepers to scan before you head to school or work.

If that means some athletes get to read about their game while still on the bus ride home, even better.

*Extensive coverage of JV, C-Team, middle school and community athletics to go along with high school varsity, plus coverage of drama productions, Science Olympiad, band and other non-sports topics.

*Side projects including the creation of the school’s Wall of Fame, revamping the football record board, and last year’s 101-year anniversary shindig for Wolf boys basketball.

*A guarantee there will NEVER, EVER, EVER be a pay wall on the blog.

My business model obviously makes no sense, but I have been able to pay my limited monthly bills thanks to the goodwill of my readers, including some who root (or play) for schools other than Coupeville.

If you want or need to read for free, no worries.

But, if you want to be one of those saints who keep my fingers clicking in the pre-dawn hours, while YouTube pumps out a mix of Daft Punk, Queen, and Glen Campbell, and I scream at Facebook for repeatedly blocking my efforts to tag parents on links to my stories, there are several easy ways:

1) You can buy an ad – $100 and it’s good for the life of the site. Which could be another 25 years or another 25 minutes. Still better odds than the lottery.

2) Join the “Blueberries for Bloggers” initiative, a probably entirely made-up thing where you keep your local writer from contracting old-school scurvy by tossing fruit my way.

Maybe “hand” and not “toss” would be a better plan…

3) Donations, whether it’s a pile of sticky, pre-licked pennies (thanks and … ewwwww) or whatever number feels right.

And hey, if someone donates $5,000, essentially paying my four core bills for a year, I’ll attach advertising for your business to my soccer mom van and conveniently leave it parked/abandoned in public view as often as possible.

So, call my bluff, Black Press, the Canadian-based conglomerate which owns Sound Publishing, which runs the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record.

For $5,000 (one wax job on one of your owner’s yachts, probably) you can continue financing local journalism, while making me publicly advertise the very newspapers which are technically my rivals.

Oh, sweet irony.

 

Want to donate?

Hit me up in person at a game, mail me at 165 Sherman, Coupeville, WA 98239 or use this handy link:

https://paypal.me/DavidSvien?locale.x=en_US

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After busting through a chain to gain access to Rhododendron Park, someone tore up Central Whidbey Little League ball-fields.  (Christi Messner photos)

Tire marks dot the infield.

The deeper the tread marks, the fewer brain cells the driver owns.

A broken chain gave the driver(s) access to the fields.

Mark of the morons.

Morons being morons.

Someone, or several someones, recently broke through a chain to gain access to the Central Whidbey Little League ball-fields at Rhododendron Park.

The mouth breathers then spent some time ripping up the area, taking advantage of soft grass to leave a variety of peel-outs.

Why? Because they’re morons, and when their little pea-sized brains jiggle around in their otherwise empty heads, they momentarily forget how much of a loser they are in every part of their life.

And, if you’re the ones who did this, and you’re offended at being called morons, idiots, simpletons, or the kind of people who give lead paint lickers a run for their money, there’s an easy way to deal with it.

Step forward and accept responsibility. Claim credit.

Course, if you do, I kind of hope a bunch of little leaguers line up and repeatedly knee you in the crotch.

But that’s just me.

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