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Archive for the ‘Ranting and Raving’ Category

When high school sports contests return Thursday, athletes like Coupeville’s Ryanne Knoblich will be wearing masks, along with coaches, fans, and refs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It’s up to you.

And me.

And all of us.

In less than 24 hours, the grand experiment starts up in Coupeville, just as it has started in other cities across Washington state.

High school athletic contests, pitting the Wolves against other schools, return for the first time in a year-plus, even as we continue to wade through an active pandemic.

For a lot of people, it is the light at the end of the tunnel — something to inspire and invigorate students, something to give them hope again.

For others, it is a foolhardy decision.

I’m not here to debate politics with you, to argue over charts and “experts,” and which “experts” you each personally choose to believe or discount.

That’s between you and your family, but mainly you and yourself.

What I am here to do is to try and amplify a point raised Wednesday by Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Director Mick Hoffman.

And that point, that plea is this — if you want high school sports to remain active, and expand further, there is no debate for athletes, coaches, refs, or fans.

WEAR YOUR MASK!!

You can like it, you can hate it, you can agree with it, you can scorn those in Governor Jay Inslee’s office who have mandated masks for everyone involved in prep sports.

Cause your personal beliefs don’t matter at this moment.

Wear your mask, or this will all go away as quickly as it returns.

That is a stone cold fact.

This is not me saying so.

This is not Hoffman saying so.

This is the people who actually decide the fate of athletics in our state saying so, in very precise words.

“If people don’t wear masks, there will be consequences, trust me,” is what Hoffman reported state officials saying.

It’s simple.

Inslee’s people, the State Department of Health, and news outlets have been bombarded in the last few days with photos of athletes, coaches, and fans not wearing masks, or trying to pull a fast one by having their mask out of place.

There are those who do not want high school athletics to be played right now, and they are out there, ready to capture photographic proof to back their belief that people won’t act responsibly.

They are coming hard, and Hoffman is pleading with everyone who wants prep sports to remain active, from athletic directors down to parents, to come equally as hard.

“(If it continues), they’re gonna shut us down, and it’s not just the schools that are being reported. It’s all of us,” he said during Wednesday’s WIAA broadcast.

Coupeville track and field returns to action Thursday at home, hosting a five-team meet which will be restricted to athletes, timers, and officials.

Wolf baseball and softball play at home Saturday, with girls tennis hitting the CHS courts Monday.

All three of those latter events are open to fans who adhere to two requests — wear masks and socially distance.

The same goes for athletes, coaches, umps, and refs.

After a year of bitching and complaining, of justifiably being sad and scared, of not knowing if, or when, any semblance of normalcy would return, we are being handed a chance.

And all we have to do is follow one simple request.

The choice is yours, it is mine, it is all of ours.

We can rise above our differences, and work together, or we can splinter off into a million different directions, and kill something good before it gets a chance to thrive.

I’m not asking you to change your mind, to believe in something if you don’t want to, or to accept one person as the final and total authority on infectious diseases and how they’re spread.

You are an independent person in a country where you’re born with the right to hold your own beliefs. So be it.

But frankly, wearing a mask for two hours at a game so your kid, who is also wearing a mask, gets to play softball again, and not be stuck in their bedroom 24/7, doesn’t seem like much to ask.

We’re all going to make our own decision, in the end.

As someone who makes 37 cents an hour (if I’m lucky) writing about sports, I hope that our town embraces what we’re being offered, and makes a small sacrifice.

Coupeville can be part of the argument in favor of sports returning, or it can be part of the argument against.

If you choose the former, thank you.

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A time before masks. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Call it the never-ending story – whenever I think I’m out, they pull me back in.

Coupeville Sports is largely a one-man operation — though John Fisken and others provide an invaluable service by letting me use their photos — and, as such, it ebbs and flows with my moods.

I’ve been chugging along at it for eight years-plus now, from August 15, 2012 until today.

Though, from time to time, I have fallen off the rails.

Such as when I recently took a six-week sabbatical from late Aug. through the first days of Oct.

I was battered by the darkest timeline we all seem to be enduring, and perplexed by a lack of easily-available sports stories in the age of coronavirus.

So, I went off, and cleared some land at my sister’s.

While yelling a lot at the ungodly amount of dead, but still ferocious, blackberry canes which the former owner of the property allowed to run wild.

I also launched a side gig at https://flatbuttfilmfest.com/, where I post five new 100-word film reviews each morning, cause that sorta, kinda, keeps alive the video store days of my misbegotten youth.

And then, bam, without really meaning to, I returned to Coupeville Sports Oct. 2, and, in the blink of an eye, have published 21 articles in a week.

Since I’ve averaged three stories a day on here since 2012 — this is article #7,919 (not kidding) — that tracks.

Who knows where we go from here.

There are still no actual games until Jan., or at least that’s the plan right now.

COVID will have a lot to say about that, and there are side wrinkles, as the winner of the Governor’s office could change how the state deals with the pandemic, and what is opened or closed.

I also might wake up tomorrow and find out the movie blog is being bought for big bucks by Jeff Bezos, and then I get my indoor/outdoor swimming pool, with waterfall connecting the two sides.

Probably not going to hold my breath on that one…

But, the point is, no promises really. Cause none of us has a freakin’ clue going forward.

The one guarantee – as long as I’m writing Coupeville Sports, I will try and make it the best it can be.

And this is where you, the reader can help.

Do you know a student (of any age) at a Whidbey school (Coupeville, Oak Harbor, or South end) who has artwork or writing they’d like to see published?

Send it to me at davidsvien@hotmail.com and we can make it a reality.

Have a story idea — doesn’t necessarily need to be sports — or want someone to be inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame?

Let me know.

Lastly, this blog, from article #1 to article #7,919 to article #10,000(?) has always been, and will always be, free to read.

No paywalls, ever.

I understand why many sites have gone that route, but I made my choice in 2012.

If you choose to read for free, good on you.

If you like what I’m doing and want to help, however, the easiest way is to click on the link below.

Should you choose to do that, for $5 or for the full price of that mythical indoor/outdoor pool with waterfall, even better on you!

 

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

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Is this the face of a man who can change? We’ll see. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

We have a problem.

And by “we,” I fully include myself.

Over the eight years that Coupeville Sports has existed, I have, on many occasions, written less than flattering things about various refs and umpires who have worked Wolf games.

Some of that was based on truth, or, at the least, what my admittedly biased brain believes to be the truth.

I’ve witnessed bad calls. Atrocious calls, even.

Occasionally seen what I believe to be bias at work.

Wondered how on Earth a human being can move down the field, or the court, or the diamond, with their head stuck so far up their nether regions.

While I haven’t screamed at the men and women in the stripes, I have used my bully pulpit — this blog — to share my thoughts on the subject.

Sometimes I have been funny about it. Or at least amused myself.

Other times I have been confrontational, rude, or far worse.

I don’t scream at the refs and umps, maybe, but I stoke the fire. I know that.

Oh, I will tell you I do it less today than I did two years ago, six years ago, or eight years ago, which is supposed to show growth. And it might.

But I still do it.

And I really shouldn’t.

People scream at games, and many say things which they hopefully regret later.

There’s a line between being involved, caring deeply, being protective, and just being rude asses.

It’s a line parents seem to be crossing more and more lately, and I see and hear it from Wolf fans at a level that wasn’t there in the past.

We are dangerously close to being the fans of the school other fans and schools talk about, and not in a good way.

I’m no innocent here.

My words, while initially not as loud as a parent swearing at a ref, ultimately last a lot longer, as they go into print, and live forever on the internet.

That’s probably worse.

There are rules for people who write for newspapers, rules I once lived under during a different part of this career.

Here, on my own blog, where I, and only I, edit my words, I have a great deal of freedom.

Freedom to be much more colorful in my writing style.

Freedom to cover what I want, when I want, how I want.

And, also, freedom to be an ass in a way I couldn’t be if my bylines were still running in the Whidbey News-Times or Skagit Valley Herald or Coupeville Examiner.

There is a guy deeply involved in sports in this town, a man who has seen the game from every side, as a player, a coach, a teacher, an administrator, and when he speaks, I do try and listen.

He made a good point recently, and he said it with a smile, but also with great seriousness.

That point is that, at a time when we are experiencing an unfortunate surge in parents being, frankly, asses, at their children’s games, especially in terms of what they scream at the refs and umps, I bear my share of the responsibility.

If I encourage that behavior, if I fan the flames, I’m as much of the problem as the person firing F-bombs like they’re manning an anti-aircraft gun.

I give the griping, the venting, the anger, an air of legitimacy. I celebrate it, and keep stoking the embers.

Coupeville Sports has, I don’t know if you’d call it “power,” but an ability to help shape the conversation.

It’s read by enough people, in the right demographics, and it continually surprises me how far out there in the universe my words travel on these here interwebs.

And I have to do better.

None of us here in Coupeville want to be thought of as ignorant hicks; we don’t want to be the town no one wants to play, not because of our skill, but because of our rudeness.

I’m not telling you not to protest when something seems wrong.

I’m not telling you not to support your team, your school, your town.

I’m not telling you to back down.

I want you to be as loud, and vocal, and supportive as possible.

But I am asking you to look down on the field, as you prepare to scream profanity at the refs and umps, who are being paid very little to make sure your children get to play competitive games, and think for a second.

Think about how the deluge of verbal crap is driving a large chunk of those men and women to quit.

I do.

There are refs and umps I have written harsh things about on this blog who I don’t see on the field anymore.

Were my words the final straw? It’s possible, and it’s deeply troubling.

Think about how the deluge of verbal crap affects your children.

Their coaches, their teachers, the school administration, are asking them to play hard but fair, to show respect for the opponent, their teammates, the refs, and the game itself.

And then their parent is screaming at the ref and asking him or her to do something anatomically impossible.

It’s amusing, until it’s not.

Or I’m bad-mouthing the same refs and umps, calling their integrity into question, giving them ample reason to think of me as a douche bag, and my town as a place they’d rather not work.

It’s amusing, until it’s not.

There will always be bad calls, though, as any reasonable person knows, “bad” often depends on which team you support, and whether the call went against that team.

We live in an angry world.

It may be naive to hope that one small slice of it — sports played by teens and pre-teens — can provide an oasis.

But, for that to even be a possibility, we all have to do better.

For my part, I’m going to try and change one aspect of my writing, by focusing less on the perceived failings of refs and umps.

There are days when it will be a struggle, I’m sure, but it’s something I need to do.

If nothing else, writing this blog, and getting input from people far more in tune with themselves, is sort of like going to therapy. Hopefully some of it sinks in over time.

I hope others, specifically CHS parents, join me in looking inward and trying to find a better balance as well.

It’s simple. We can be supportive, without being asses.

Towns should fear the arrival of Coupeville because they know its teams will dominate on the field, not because their school officials will have to debate chucking our fans out the side door, while banning me from the premises.

We are better. We just need to prove it.

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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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