Archive for the ‘Ranting and Raving’ Category

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:


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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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Bow your head as the “double exclamation point headline” dies a brutal death at the hands of Facebook. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Somewhere, an English teacher smiles, as the double exclamation point headlines die.

Six years, four months, and two weeks after the birth of Coupeville Sports, in the moment right before I hit 6,600 articles, Facebook has done me dirty.

Three times in the past four days, Zuckerberg’s computer algorithms have momentarily paused in their work of stealing all of our info and dispersing it willy-nilly for profit, to inform me I don’t meet “community standards.”

When this happens, Facebook, which never, ever responds to my queries, blocks the story link I’m trying to publish and makes it so I, and I alone, can see it on their website.

Which is a major pain in the tushie. And not the first time this has happened.

I’ve logged 7,579 tweets, many of them featuring links to my stories, and never once been blocked by Twitter.

But, the reality is Facebook overwhelmingly dwarfs Twitter in an ability to drive an audience to my blog.

Which is the whole point of this. Not to collect retweets or likes or shares, but to have people read what I wrote.

Facebook is where the most parents are camped out, the most grandmas and uncles, the most next door neighbors from your old hood, and where I can tag 150 people on a story if I choose.

As much as I scream and rage at my computer when Facebook refuses to work and show a photo with the story link, or any of a thousand other irritants, I need it to drive people to my work.

And I can’t do that when the links to my stories keep on getting blocked.

So I went through and looked at Facebook’s “community standards,” and laughed and laughed and laughed some more at the company’s rules, a load of sanctimonious drivel it definitely, positively does not uphold in any kind of consistent manner.

Trying to find where I was bothering their monitoring system took some work, especially, since as I mentioned, Facebook has no intention of every actually interacting with me.

And this is what I came up with.

The only one of their “community standards” I come remotely close to bumping up against is their “crackdown” on fake news.

And it’s because a computer system is flagging my links, and not an actual human.

Instead of looking at my articles, instead of reading six years worth of reporting, the system is tripping on the most basic of things – the double exclamation points in my headlines.

Facebook’s faceless cops see those eye-catchers, and immediately equate my words with the misleading headlines you see tacked on so many “stories” which are designed to, well, fool and inflame people.

Now I know why I use the exclamation daggers, and most of my readers know why as well.

And it’s not to fool or inflame people.

From day one, it was a way to interject an added layer of excitement, to set myself apart from the newspapers for which I previously wrote.

I’ve positioned myself as an alternative, with a more impassioned, more pro-Coupeville writing style than I used in my previous editorial life.

But I hold fast to many of the rules I learned from my newspaper mentors.

I don’t make stuff up, I get confirmation, I publish news.

A human being who reads my articles knows that. They might not like every story I write, but they can see I’m not some rabid nut screaming at the world from his mom’s basement, or a faceless bot trying to collect “likes.”

Sure enough, when I tested this out, simply removing the exclamation points and leaving my headlines exactly, word-for-word, the same as before, presto, no problem posting links whatsoever.

So, I face a quandary.

I can continue to be the same obstinate curmudgeon I am with most things relating to my writing, or I can, on this one small thing, be smart and accept you have to sometimes go with the flow.

Ultimately, the double exclamation point headlines are part of what makes Coupeville Sports what it is, but they don’t define it.

I can live without them, if I have to, but I can’t live without what is, regretfully, the biggest tool in driving readers to my work.

There’s a good chance you’re reading this article right now because you clicked on a Facebook link.

So fine, Zuckerberg, if it’ll get your soul-sucking bots off my case (and give them time to get back to stealing all my personal info), I can adapt.

The double exclamation points go on hiatus, at least for now.

Give a little, to get a lot.

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Avalon Renninger and Coupeville basketball kick off the 2019 portion of their season Friday in Shoreline. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The calendar flips, and who knows what awaits us?

Looking ahead at 2019, the one thing we know for sure is this – no one knows nothing.

There will undoubtedly be surprises galore, and, hopefully, they’ll fall more on the positive side than the negative side.

But here’s a few things to keep an eye on as we move ahead.



From here on out, it’s all league games for the Coupeville High School basketball teams.

The Wolf girls sit at 2-0 in North Sound Conference play, 4-5 overall, heading into “The Showdown in Shoreline” Friday, which pits CHS against King’s (2-0, 7-3) for sole-possession of first in the North Sound Conference.

Win or lose, Coupeville has seven more league clashes after that, and can punch a ticket to the postseason if it finishes in the top five in a six-team league.

The CHS boys (0-1, 1-7) are currently in 4th place, but, with nine games remaining, also control their own destiny.

Several Wolves are chasing individual accomplishments, beginning with Lindsey Roberts.

The senior captain sits at #24 on the career scoring chart, with 390 points, and is just 36 from cracking the all-time top 20.

While Roberts has the biggest story-line, there’s also senior Ema Smith, who needs a bucket to reach 150 career points and sophomore Chelsea Prescott, who is a three-ball shy of 100 career points.

Prescott would be the 98th CHS girl between 1975-2019 to break triple digits, joining Roberts, Ema Smith and junior Scout Smith (103 points) as active players in the exclusive club.

On the boys side of the ball, junior Mason Grove is the top active scorer, with 95 career points to his name. Net five more and he becomes the 162nd Wolf male in the modern era to hit 1-0-0.

Hot on his heels is freshman Hawthorne Wolfe, who leads Coupeville with 84 points in eight games.

He’s trying to become just the fifth Wolf boy in 102 seasons to toss in 100+ varsity points during his 9th grade season, and has his eyes on Mike Bagby’s frosh boys scoring record of 137.

While the CHS hoops squads return to action, they’ll soon be joined by the Coupeville Middle School girls.

The biggest moment of the winter, however, will play out off the court.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association meets Jan. 28 to vote on amendments which could toss everything topsy-turvy.

There’s a ton of moving parts, but here’s the simple breakdown.

If the biggest amendment on the agenda is approved (and it’s heavily favored), the WIAA will change how it classifies schools for athletics.

Instead of trying to keep things relatively balanced, by forcing a similar number of schools to fit into each level (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B, 1B), there would be set numbers.

Under that set-up, if you have 105-224 students, you’re 2B. Count 225-449 bodies and it’s 1A, and so on.

While final numbers for each school are still in flux, as the WIAA also works on a formula to aid schools which give an above-average amount of free or reduced-price lunches, the change could benefit Coupeville.

It’s very possible CHS, one of the smallest 1A schools for many years, would slip back to 2B under the new counts.

If so, the Wolves would ditch the new North Sound Conference after one year and head back to the Northwest League and old-school foes like La Conner, Concrete and Friday Harbor, beginning next fall.

Then again, if things go like they have in the past, Coupeville will miss the new count by half a body and be locked into being the smallest school in 1A for all eternity.

Only time will tell.



Coupeville exited the Olympic League with a splash, winning five league titles (baseball, softball, girls and boys track, girls tennis) last spring, before adding a district title and 5th place team finish at state for boys track.

With new foes and new players in key roles, all of those teams face new challenges, but a few Wolves are primed to make runs at records.

On the soccer pitch, junior cousins Derek and Aram Leyva can make an assault on the boys soccer career scoring record, held by Aram’s big brother, Abraham.

Abraham scored 45 goals over three seasons before graduating, while Derek set the Wolf boys single-season mark of 24 in his first go-around last year.

Aram, with 19 tallies (six as a freshman, 13 as a sophomore), isn’t far behind, and the duo could join Abraham, Mia Littlejohn (35) and Kalia Littlejohn (33) in the 30-goal club.

On the track oval, seniors Roberts (100 hurdles) and Danny Conlisk (400) are coming off 2nd place finishes in Cheney, and would love to break Coupeville’s state title drought.

The last Wolf to stand on top of the podium was Tyler King, who claimed a cross country championship in fall 2010. Several months before that, he won a pair of track titles, as well.

Roberts has claimed five competitive state track meet medals, earning at least one each year, and is tied with Yashmeen Knox for third all-time among Wolf girls.

Makana Stone (7) and Natasha Bamberger (6) are the last two for her to catch.

Joining an exclusive club, Conlisk used his performance in the 400 to become just the 23rd Wolf to collect a third competitive medal.

With every medal after this, the club just gets more and more exclusive.



Will Coupeville jump to 2B (boys and girls soccer together in the fall, and a lot less private schools), or dig in and plow ahead in 1A?

Can middle school football, which shut down two games early this past fall, be saved?

And most importantly, will I still be able to walk after months more of working on my sister’s homestead, Never Free Farm?

Well, like someone once said – no one knows nothing.

But I do know this – next fall brings a new class of talented freshmen to the high school, while “The Chosen One,” basketball whiz kid Savina Wells, enters 7th grade and gets to finally lay waste to middle school foes.

So, that’s a big something, something right there.

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   I spent three springs playing tennis at Tumwater High School. That’s me, third from the left.

In less than 24 hours, spring sports begin.

Which means I am here, once again, to poke, prod and needle those who are sitting on the fence.

A lot of Wolf athletes will show up tomorrow for the first practice, whether softball, track, baseball, tennis or soccer is their sport.

But a fair amount won’t.

There will be the usual excuses offered, some sincere and some not so much.

So be it. It’s your choice.

Though, ultimately, that is what will nag at me personally the most.

Not that you want to go work, or study, or drive, or hang out with friends, or violate the athletic code without impunity, or any of a million little reasons you will offer for why you’re not playing a sport this spring.

No, what will bother me, personally, the most, is you have the choice to play, and you still choose to walk away.

Because I never had that choice.

For someone who makes their meager living off of writing about high school and middle school sports, I came at the job in somewhat of an odd way.

I grew up playing outside 24-7, whether it was basketball, baseball, football, churning through the neighborhood on my battered bike or waging a constant war with a neighbor kid, who, at the time, seemed super annoying.

Now, looking back, I’m pretty sure I was just as annoying, if not more so.

But what I’m saying is, I was, like most kids in the late ’70s, early ’80s, a natural athlete.

And also rail-thin. But no beard … at the time.

Playing sports was what I lived and breathed for on a daily basis.

If no one else was around, I’d play basketball myself, the Trail Blazers vs. the ’76ers, Jim Paxson knocking down jumpers over Maurice Cheeks all day long.

My dad wouldn’t put up a backboard and rim?

I used a tree with a thick, low-hanging branch, which caused weird ricochets on the rebounds and made me a better defensive player.

During this time, I was miffed my dad wouldn’t let me play little league baseball, but, since basketball was my #1 sport, I let it go without too much arguing or thought.

There weren’t any SWISH-style youth basketball options in our town back then, but, as soon as I hit middle school, I would be able to play organized basketball.

I might not have been crossing days off the calendar, but it was close.

In sixth grade there were three players on the playground who were picked 1-2-3, in fluctuating order, day in and day out, for every game.

We were all wiry guards, with similar games, builds and skills, and it was actually more exciting to be the one who got picked #2, which meant you would have to fend off the other two as they worked together.

Lee and Larry went on to play middle school and high school ball, with Larry making the high school varsity as a freshman.

I did not play in middle school or high school.

It wasn’t my choice, and yes, it still bothers me greatly to this day.

And please, do not for a second think I believe I was destined for greatness, for college or the NBA.

I was a super-skinny kid who topped out at a shade under six-foot and liked to drive people batty on defense. No one was ever gonna give me money for my hoops skills.

But man, I wanted desperately to play organized basketball, and I will always be left to wonder what my experience would have been like.

And why didn’t I play, you ask?

Growing up, I was part of a family which belonged to a rather rigid religious sect, and my father, for many years, was one of the leaders in our local branch.

Organized sports were seen as preparation for military life, something also not allowed by this group.

So, the thinking as best I understand, was why allow children to do one thing, if it was merely leading to something else which also wasn’t going to happen?

We had discussions, my father and I. We had arguments. Nothing changed.

My sister was far more vocal, while I tended to react as passively-aggressive as possible. Which meant I have sulked ever since.

It was only late in my sophomore year, after my father had stepped down from his leadership role in our church, and after I had come within 99.29% of dropping out of school, that he relented a small fraction.

Desperate to find some way to keep me in school, my mom convinced my dad to allow me to play tennis — and only tennis — and I got most of three seasons on the court.

Tennis wasn’t my first choice, my second choice or my 37th choice, but I enjoyed my time playing for Coach Barona.

I was the kid who went full-tilt every practice, then always stayed after practice to keep playing until it was so dark we couldn’t see the tennis ball anymore.

On weekends, I would bike down to the courts and play for hours more.

I still have my racket, a framed team photo from my senior year, my Tumwater High School letter and a second-place trophy from a summer tournament.

The trophy isn’t that impressive, pretty much a run-of-the-mill tennis one, and parts of it have come a bit loose over the years.

But, every time I look at it stashed away on top of a bookshelf, I remember upsetting one high school teammate, James, in the semifinals, then battling my high school doubles partner, Ari, for three-plus hours in the final.

It was a very hot day and by the end, after repeatedly trying to slug the ball off of each other’s faces, and much yapping back and forth, our coach decided we might need a change.

Suffice it to say, I played singles as a senior. Which was probably best for all involved.

That trophy stands as a perfect testament to how drive and commitment can help you achieve anything, while also offering a stark reminder that maybe I’m not the easiest person to get along with.

A fact to which many newspaper editors can attest.

During those three seasons of tennis, I came back at my father often with pleas to play basketball, but he never bent. Ever.

As an adult, I’m no happier with his choice, but time does tend to take some of the edge off of our hurts.

I don’t hate my dad.

Didn’t while he was alive and certainly don’t now that he has passed. In almost every other way, we had a great relationship.

I don’t agree with all the decisions he made, but I know he genuinely wanted the best for me at all times.

But I still wish I had been given the chance to play. And I probably always will.

So, to the Wolf athletes who sit on the fence on this Sunday night, trying to decide whether to play or not — it’s your call, not mine.

But whatever you choose, to play or sit, just be thankful YOU get to make that choice.

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