Archive for the ‘Ranting and Raving’ Category

Logan Downes has two more years to slap home buckets. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Gaze into our cracked crystal ball.

Looking ahead at the 2022-2023 school year, we can make some educated guesses as to which storylines will dominate conversation in the prep sports world.

Then again, there’s always surprises, whether it’s a worldwide pandemic suddenly surfacing or a team (or athlete) catching fire in an unexpected manner.

You need to stay nimble, remain on your toes, and be ready to have things crash apart in unforeseen ways.

That’s life.

While we wait for those sudden veers, however, here’s some guesses on things which I think will be part of the conversation, stretching from fall out to next spring.

1 — There will be at least one new head coach at Coupeville High School, as Bennett Richter takes the reins of the Wolf football program.

The former CHS Defensive Coordinator, who’s also getting hitched to Wolf girls basketball coach Megan Smith this weekend, replaces Marcus Carr, now calling the shots at Inglemoor.

Richter is the sixth Wolf head gridiron coach in the past 13 seasons, after Ron Bagby retired in 2009 with 26 campaigns in the record book.

2 — Meanwhile Cory Whitmore enters his seventh year as CHS varsity volleyball coach.

He’s posted a winning mark each time out, and his teams have nabbed at least 11 wins in every season except 2020 — when Covid limited the schedule to just nine matches.

Whitmore can post some milestones this time around, as he’s 66-30 at the helm of the Wolves.

His 100th match on the CHS bench is all but guaranteed, a 75th win very likely, and a second trip to state the goal.

3 — Ken Stange is the current dean of Wolf coaches, with long runs with the school’s two tennis programs.

But the pandemic and Coupeville’s move from 1A to 2B, which sent boys soccer from spring to fall, has made it difficult to field a boys tennis team.

After two years of the Wolf male netters being AWOL, will the program return, or will the competition for athletes with cross country, football, and soccer remain a stumbling block?

4 — Helen Strelow, Claire Mayne, and Mitchell Hall will chase a second-straight trip to state once cross country hits the trail, while Strelow also looks to defend her individual Northwest 2B/1B League title.

As year five of the harrier rebirth dawns, what new heights will the Wolves reach?

Alex Murdy (left) and Aidan Wilson sandwich a rival. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

5 — With boys and girls soccer sharing the same field in the same season, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to watch pitch action.

Will I ever stop being a heathen and develop a greater appreciation for the “beautiful game?”

You never know…

6 — Winter means basketball, AKA God’s chosen sport, and the return to the hardwood should have storylines aplenty.

Wolf girls coach Megan Smith will be in season two at the helm of the program she once played for, and the Class of 2023 — which went undefeated as 8th grade hoops stars — get a final run.

It’s a deep, talented, tight-knit group, but point guard Maddie Georges gets an extra bit of hype since she’s got a chance to crack an elite group.

The fiery three-ball ace has tossed in 253 points in three seasons of high school ball and sits at #43 on the all-time scoring chart for a program which launched in 1974.

Depending on how much of the scoring she takes on as a senior, Georges has a solid shot at finishing in the top 20, where Maureen Wetmore (438 points) is currently holding down the final slot.

On the boys side of the court, the Wolves are coming off their best season in decades, opening 16-0, winning league and district titles, and advancing to the state tourney for two games.

Head coach Brad Sherman lost a large senior class, though young(er) gunners Logan Downes and Alex Murdy can return.

Downes (224 career points through his sophomore year) and Murdy (206 through his junior season) are #127 and #134 all-time for a program which began in 1917 and are primed to make large leaps up the scoring chart.

Will either one rise as far as the recently departed Hawthorne Wolfe (800) or Xavier Murdy (482)? Only time will tell.

Sluggers (l to r) Jada Heaton, Mia Farris, and Taylor Brotemarkle are part of a bright future for CHS softball. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Heaton)

7 — Wolf softball is the King Kong of NWL softball, but Kevin McGranahan and Co. are aiming bigger and want a return to the state tourney.

Izzy Wells, who was the team’s #1 pitcher since her freshman season, graduated, and lil’ sis Savina moved to Florida with three years of eligibility left, so the hunt for a new hurler is job #1.

Even with the 2020 season completely erased by the pandemic, McGranahan has six years and 83 wins in the bank at CHS, and a return to state would all but guarantee lighting up the scoreboard for win #100.

8 — Baseball also won a league title this past spring, in coach Will Thayer’s second season, though the Wolves fell a hair short of earning a trip to state.

Coupeville lost a good batch of seniors, but a huge chunk of the core of the team will be back, with Scott Hilborn, Jonathan Valenzuela and friends primed for a sweet swan song.

9 — Girls tennis has the most league titles of any sports program at CHS, and Helen Strelow tops a strong group of potential returnees.

Ken Stange enjoys making trips to Eastern Washington when it sizzles, so another jaunt to state for a Wolf netter or two could put a nice cap on his 237th season as CHS net coach.

10 — Speaking of state championship events, the biggest of them all got back on track after two pandemic-marred springs, with track and field athletes making the wheels on the bus go round and round all the way to Cheney.

Coupeville’s boys claimed 7th in the team standings, while Wolf athletes earned four second-place finishes during the big show.

Several top Wolves graduated, but medal-winners Aidan Wilson (2), Reiley Araceley (1), Ryanne Knoblich (1) and Dominic Coffman (1) all can return, while young phenoms like Lyla Stuurmans are primed to break-through to glory.

Aby Wood and friends will be back for another season of track. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

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Daydreaming about that indoor/outdoor swimming pool with waterfall I’ll never own. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

We’re closing in on some major milestones.

Today marks nine years and 11 months for Coupeville Sports, leaving me a month shy of the blog’s 10th birthday, which hits Aug. 15.

Two days later, CHS football begins practice, with the other fall Wolf teams taking the field Aug. 22.

Right now, this is the 9,359th story to appear on Coupeville Sports, and you can count the stories I haven’t personally written on one hand.

We’re also very close to hitting two million page views all-time and would have likely already reached that number if the pandemic hadn’t shut down all sports for more than a year.

When you write a sports blog, and there are no sports, you get creative, but readership also predictably goes down.

Though, with the return of sports, the numbers have shot back up – to the point where here in year #10, I’m currently on target to post my best numbers since the prime of the blog back in 2016.

As we head towards the big 1-0, let’s clear up a few things for those who may have joined us recently.

#1 — I am NOT employed by the Coupeville School District, and they have yet to give me a penny of financial support in a decade of being their unofficial PR agent.

If you have an issue with something I write, contact me, instead of wasting the time of school administrators. My email is davidsvien@hotmail.com.

#2 — I am NOT connected to John’s Photos, and do NOT make a penny off of his photos.

He’s been gracious enough to allow me to run his pics for the past 9+ years, but we are separate entities, and whatever money you spend on photos goes to the guy actually clicking the camera.

#3 — I may not be the only person in the state of Washington doing what I am with this blog, but it’s pretty dang close.

Find me someone else hyper-focusing on a small town and covering not just varsity, but JV, C-Team, and middle school teams on a game-by-game basis.

I’ll wait.

#4 — Coupeville Sports is free to read. Has been since Aug. 15, 2012 and will forever remain that way. No pay wall. Ever. End of story.

#5 — I understand and appreciate the pain of Oak Harbor and South Whidbey sports fans, who have been largely left high and dry with the Whidbey News-Times declining to fill its Sports Editor position after Jim Waller retired more than a year ago.

As a WNT alumni (1990-1994), it’s an embarrassment and dereliction of duty in pursuit of saving a few bucks.

That being said, I am NOT the person to ride to your rescue.

When the school athletic year is in full gear, I average 4-5 articles a day, every day, covering just Coupeville.

I can’t add two more towns and countless more teams to that.

Whidbey is too big (and gas too expensive in this economy!), my knowledge of Oak Harbor and South Whidbey sports is too limited, and my obsessive nature too likely to send me down a path to cracking up in pursuit of penning 15 stories a day.

You can start a blog literally for free, and I hope at some point someone in those towns steps up and seizes the bright, shining opportunity which exists.

But for me, I made my choice, and that’s covering sports at Coupeville schools and ballfields which sit a mile from my duplex.

#6 — Yes, Coupeville Sports is my only job.

I left the restaurant biz in 2015, and despite my many prayers, it doesn’t appear that video stores will ever return.

So, I write and write some more … and then go do some weed eating and mowing on the side as my 51-year-old back screams at me.

#7 — Yes, I will never, ever be getting my indoor/outdoor swimming pool with waterfall writing about small town sports. Sad but true.

#8 — Coupeville Sports survives because of the generosity of my readers.

You can read for free, but those who choose to financially back me, at whatever dollar amount, are the true MVPs.

Want to keep me typing away on a computer powered by three squirrels running on a mini treadmill at 2 AM? There are multiple ways.


Venmo: David-Svien

PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/DavidSvien?country.x=US&locale.x=en_US

Mail: 165 Sherman, Coupeville, WA 98239

In-person: Once games start back up, I can be found flattening my tush in the stands (or occasionally being fancy in the press box).

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Deer Park High School — nice logo, questionable in-game decisions.

How much is too much?

Two recent high school games, in different sports and different states, have showcased when teams go beyond winning big, and just win ugly.

One has drawn national attention, and the other probably should.

The first came in California, where Inglewood thrashed Morningside 106-0 on the football gridiron, with the former team leaving their UCLA-bound quarterback in the entire way as he threw for 13 touchdowns.

Up 104-0, that QB even tossed a two-point conversion pass after the last TD, cause … stats.

“It was a classless move,” was the quote offered up by Morningside’s first-year head coach, Brian Collins, whose team is 2-8.

Here in Washington state, there was an even more shocking score, as Deer Park, the #3 seed in 1A girls soccer, opened the state tourney by blitzing Royal 20-0.

The Stags reportedly also left their star player, who is on her way to play on scholarship at the University of Oregon, in the entire way, with her rattling home six goals.

The difference here is Royal, unlike Morningside, is good.

Even with the season-ending loss, the Knights were 12-8 and were one of the final 16 teams standing in 1A.

But they ran into a team in Deer Park which had no issue with recording 19-0, 15-1, 13-0, 12-0, and three separate 11-0 wins against overmatched opponents this season.

A second-hand quote on Twitter, attributed to the Royal coach, went like this:

“We needed to keep playing and we did what we could against a side that was better and clearly wanted to make a statement of some kind.

“No history here, so I don’t know, but congrats to them.”

With the lopsided win, Deer Park advances to a quarterfinal matchup with King’s, which beat La Salle 8-0 in its opener.

Two more wins, and the Stags will likely play top-seeded Klahowya for a state title.

And those Eagles make for a strong contrast with Deer Park.

While going 16-0-2, including a 5-1 win over Wahluke in its state opener, Klahowya has outscored its foes 105-4.

Deer Park, at 17-1, has rung up a 148-9 advantage.

Unlike the Stags, however, Klahowya often pulled players this season, taking an 11-9 disadvantage on the pitch, while limiting itself to a season-high of nine goals.

The Eagles have won convincingly, with their ties coming against Bellevue Christian — their state quarterfinal opponent — and 2A Fife, but have chosen not to rub it in the faces of their rivals.

Deer Park’s 19-0 regular-season win came at the expense of winless Medical Lake, so … yay for you, Stags. You really proved … something.

And that 20-0 state win?

Deer Park was up 9-0 at the half, in a sport where about 1% of teams come back from a two-goal deficit, and still felt the need to ring up 11 more scores.

That 106-0 football win, even if nearly all the PATs or two-point conversions failed, couldn’t have had more than 17 touchdowns.

While anything that starts with 100+ points being involved looks outlandish, Deer Park’s win actually involved more scoring.

Against a team which was blown out long before the ball stopped hitting the back of the net.

High school football at least has a running clock, which helps a bit.

Softball, where Coupeville beat Deer Park 14-2 at the state tourney in 2019, has a mercy rule, as well.

There is nothing similar in soccer, though most coaches, such as Klahowya’s, find a way to balance their team winning convincingly, and looking like power-mad asses.

Winning 20-0 on the soccer field, whether it’s against scrubs or a state tourney qualifier, is a bad look. Pure and simple.

Especially when Deer Park’s own Twitter claims:

Stag Athletics emphasizes the proper ideals of sportsmanship, ethical conduct, and fair play.

Uh huh.

Whether it’s fair or not to the young women who wear the Deer Park soccer uniforms, it makes an outsider such as myself root for them to lose.

Does that mean I have to … choke … hope for former Coupeville nemesis King’s to do well?

Well, that might be asking for too much.

But, if not before, I certainly hope Deer Park gets KO’d by former Coupeville nemesis Klahowya, a team which has shown you can be dominant while still maintaining some class.

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It’s a shame. It really, truly is.

Back in the final days of 2020, my journalism mentor, Jim Waller, retired after his second, and final stint, as Sports Editor for the Whidbey News-Times.

Since he was actually pulling double duty and also crafting stories for their sister paper, The South Whidbey Record, his departure to North Carolina essentially ended sports coverage in Whidbey’s newspapers.

Now, his departure is not the shame.

And neither is the work of the current staff at those newspapers, with Jesse Stensland, Emily Gilbert, Karina Andrew, and Kira Erickson doing fine work.

The shame lies with the bean counters, whether they are at Sound Publishing or, ultimately, at Black Press in Canada.

We are 10 months past Waller’s retirement, and well into a very-active fall school sports season, and Whidbey’s newspapers have not hired a new Sports Editor, or a sports writer, or anything remotely close.

From Jan. 1, 2021 to today, I have published 713 largely Coupeville-centric stories, most of them sports-related, on this blog.

By contrast, the News-Times and Record, the “papers of record” for Whidbey, have largely pretended sports no longer exist.

In Coupeville. In Oak Harbor. In Langley. From Deception Pass Bridge to the Clinton ferry, poof, athletics be gone.

Now, for someone like myself, who worked for the Canadian-funded Whidbey papers back in the ’90s, seeing an ultra-thin eight-page paper (with $1.00 stamped on it) arrive in my landlord’s mailbox is shame enough.

To leaf through it and see nothing sports-related, other than a random photo or brief, rewritten press release, is a stake through the heart.

Go online and it’s no different.

And I get that the newspaper industry has radically changed since the ’90s. I understand, better than many, how much of a struggle it is now.

I also understand my own Don Quixote thing, tilting at windmills and publishing 8,720 small-town sports stories in a little over nine years, can’t and won’t be replicated by anyone who’s not willing to live fast and (really) stupid.

But for the Whidbey newspapers, publications which have endured for 100+ years, papers which have employed really good sports writers in the past, to give up, is beyond shameful.

Both the South Whidbey High School volleyball and girls soccer teams are enjoying outstanding seasons, and seem capable of making serious playoff runs.

Years from now, when the players on those teams look back, they aren’t going to have many published stories, in print or online, to marinate in.

How are Oak Harbor teams doing?

No clue, as I’m buried, writing 4-5 Coupeville-related stories per day, every day, and, unlike the past, the News-Times isn’t there to let me catch a quick update.

There have been times in recent months where people from the two schools I don’t cover have asked me if I would write stories for Oak Harbor and South Whidbey.

I feel their pain. I do.

But I can’t rescue the newspaper bean counters for not doing their job.

I’m too busy with Coupeville, the town which I have committed myself to, and the athletes, parents, coaches, and administrators here, who have supported this blog since 2012.

The current staff at the News-Times/Record is doing what it can to stay on top of Whidbey news. They seem to care a great deal.

But they need help.

The bean counters back at corporate, if they intend to keep these newspapers running, need to realize how important sports coverage is as a part of small-town journalism.

The cost of hiring another reporter, one to cover Oak Harbor and South Whidbey sports (and give me someone to shoot it out with in Coupeville), will not wreck your ledger.

What it will do is give additional advertisers in the North and South a reason to support your papers again.

What it will do is give teens a reason to ever look at your publications, and grandmas a reason to clip stories or print out your work from the internet.

What it will do is restore a proud tradition of Whidbey sports writing which has included the work of Wallie Funk, Jim Waller, Brian Zylstra, Jill Johnson, and a whole lot of others.

What it will do is get me, a guy you paid to write about sports from 1989-1994, off your back, at least for a bit.

Though, I have a long history of chafing Sound Publishing and Black Press, so emphasis on the word “bit…”

Whether you’re a bean counter or David Black, the mythical gazillionaire media mogul behind the curtain in Moose Jaw, as long as you’re running them, you damn well should respect the history of Whidbey’s newspapers.

Sports matter, greatly, when it comes to small-town journalism.

Stop shaming yourself, and act like you have a clue.

If nothing else, give me a competitor again. I dare you.

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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.


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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