Archive for the ‘Volleyball’ Category

CHS and CMS volleyball stars work with the next generation during a recent K-6 skills camp. (Photos courtesy Cory Whitmore)

Start young, have strong role models, and the future is bright.

Lucy Sandahl teaches a girl who just discovered she wants to grow up to be the next Lucy Sandahl.

Layer upon layer.

That’s how you build truly-successful sports programs, bringing in athletes when they’re young, then having current stars work with them.

Coupeville High School volleyball guru Cory Whitmore embraces the idea, which is why the K-6 skills camp he, assistant coach Chris Smith, and their players ran the past couple of days is so important.

You can see it in the photos above, as high school and middle school players embrace the chance to be role models and coaches in their own right, and elementary school athletes discover someone to emulate.

A few years down the road, the lil’ kids will be the teachers, and the current spikers will be the ones visiting and seeing how their efforts paid off.

It’s how you build success, one layer upon another layer.

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Alita “The Assassin” Blouin heads to Coupeville High School this fall, ready to turn hard work into success. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They call her “The Assassin” for a reason.

Off the court, Alita Blouin is a strong, smart, highly-motivated young woman.

On the court, she’s all those things — and also a stone-cold killer.

Of all the athletes headed to Coupeville High School this fall, Blouin is the one I most feel confident in hailing as a star.

She has talent, which she has shown on the volleyball and basketball court, and will soon bring to the tennis court, but it’s more than that.

During her middle school days, Blouin showed a fieriness, an unwillingness to back down, which is too often missing in Coupeville athletes.

That was key to success in volleyball, where she was a leader, and in basketball, where she sliced ‘n diced rivals both as a passer and shooter for a Wolf 8th grade team which went undefeated.

You can read more of my thoughts on the rare qualities Blouin brings to Wolf sports by popping over and reading an article from last year:


Now, no one can truly know if middle school success will translate to high school stardom.

Sometimes everything clicks, other times life intrudes.

Most of all, it’s not fair to put too much pressure on a young woman yet to attend her first class as a CHS freshman.

But Blouin, with a solid support crew headed up by parents Shawn and June, and younger brother Ryan, seems built for success.

And it all starts with her positive attitude.

“My strengths as an athlete are taking criticism and applying it to how I play,” Blouin said. “I also always look for a way to give one of my teammates a good opportunity to succeed and work together in the process.”

She’s very close to many of those teammates, which helps her both be a leader and work together for the greater good of the team.

“Being an athlete helps me make a stronger bond with my teammates/friends,” Blouin said. “It helps me bring out my competitive nature.

“And playing sports is just overall really fun.”

Meshing well with the other young women on the court is one of Blouin’s primary goals, and it extends not only to those her own age, but to the upperclassmen she will soon join.

“My goal as a high-school athlete is to create stronger bonds with my older teammates, so that we can all have chemistry while we play,” she said.

“And also, so I can learn from them, since they have more experience than I do.”

While she’s already achieved some athletic success, Blouin isn’t content to rest on her laurels.

Instead, she has a clear vision of the future, and what she and her teammates can accomplish over the next four years, if they continue to grow, both as individuals, and in a team framework.

“I would like to work on my self-confidence,” Blouin said. “Many times I miss out on an opportunity simply because I don’t believe in my own abilities.

“Also, I would like to win, and maybe make it to state for at least one of my sports.”

While she enjoys basketball, and is looking forward to trying out tennis, the first high school sport she will play claims the biggest part of her heart.

“My favorite sport is volleyball, because when you are playing, you get rushes of adrenaline during rallies and this rush of energy makes the game so exciting,” Blouin said.

“Especially when the point is won and everyone is cheering, it just makes me really happy.”

When she’s not competing or practicing, Blouin also excels in the classroom, enjoying art, math, and computer design.

She helped create the CMS yearbook as an 8th grader, spends time painting and drawing at home, and will bravely tackle both geometry and algebra at the same time during her freshman year.

As she makes the jump to high school, Blouin knows she isn’t alone.

Her family and friends, many of whom play sports alongside her, will always be there to provide support at crucial moments.

“My teammates have had one of the biggest impacts on the person I am today,” she said. “Mostly (fellow basketball starters) Maddie (Georges), Gwen (Gustafson), Carolyn (Lhamon), and Nezi (Keiper).

“We all push each other and help each other improve as athletes,” Blouin added. “We are all very competitive with each other and that is why we are competitive when we play in games.”

Before and after she steps on the floor, she gets a different kind of support from her family, with extended members, from grandparents to cousins, often filling a chunk of the stands at her games.

“My parents also have always believed in me since day one,” Blouin said. “They always tell me what I do well and what I can improve on next time.

“Without them I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be an athlete.”

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Lucy Tenore is bringing her volleyball (and tennis) skills to Coupeville High School this fall. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Spike, bump, serve, relax.

For Lucy Tenore, life on the volleyball court offers the perfect escape.

“It gives you a chance to forget about everything that day and do something you love and can count on,” she said.

Tenore, who will be a freshman at Coupeville High School this fall, plans to play tennis as well, but it’s volleyball she digs the most.

“I love it because I always get to be with my teammates,” she said. “I believe my strength is being a cheerleader for my teammates.”

She’ll enter high school play already possessing one thing coaches love to see – height – and brought a nicely-developing skill set with her whenever she hit the floor during middle school action.

A hard worker, both in practice and matches, Tenore always tries to stay positive. Though sometimes that takes a little extra effort.

“I’d like to work on not getting so down on myself when I make mistakes,” she admitted.

But with the support and encouragement of her main cheering section — “my parents, my dog, and my little sister” — Tenore has big dreams.

“My goal is to be on the volleyball varsity team all four years of high school,” she said, with confidence in her voice.

Away from the volleyball floor, Tenore stays busy, keeping up with school work and extracurricular activities.

In addition to her sports pursuits, she’s joined the Scouts BSA program and pledges to stay loyal to her life-long fascination with all things from the House of Mouse.

“My deepest love is for Disney,” Tenore said. “I have always had an addiction to Disney music, Disney movies, and, most of all, Disneyland.”

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Valen Trujillo, seen in her playing days at Coupeville, is now a coach for a 3A volleyball powerhouse. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The student has become the master.

Coupeville High School volleyball legend Valen Trujillo is stepping to the other side of the court next year, joining the coaching staff at Seattle’s Lakeside High School.

She’ll be a JV assistant coach for the Lions, whose varsity squad finished 2nd at the 3A state tournament last fall.

The hire is pending final approval, as the school waits for her background check to be completed.

Trujillo, who is a 2017 CHS grad and was a rare solo inductee into the Coupeville Sports Hall of Fame, has been operating Valen Lee Photography.

Check it out by popping over to: https://www.valenleephoto.com/

Her work behind the camera has taken her on a journey across the United States, with stops from Georgia to an upcoming trip to Utah for a collaboration with another photographer.

While she’s greatly enjoying her business, Trujillo has frequently thought of following in the paths of her own high school volleyball coaches, Breanne Smedley and Cory Whitmore.

“They seriously changed my life,” she said. “I learned more from them in my three years with them than I have in my whole life.”

Along with her photography, Trujillo works in Everett at an athletic club and as a junior tennis assistant coach.

But volleyball has always been her dream gig.

“I have always felt like I’d wanted to be a coach,” Trujillo said. “Since leaving college and having a year of not really knowing what I want or who I was, I started feeling like coaching is what I wanted to pursue.

“I did some tennis coaching but it wasn’t satisfying my desire, so one day I decided to look at volleyball positions, and the rest is history!”

During her days as a Wolf, Trujillo was one of the most-talented athletes to ever walk the hallways of Coupeville High School.

On the volleyball court, she was the ultimate warrior, sprawling out, flipping end over end, vowing to never let a ball evade her grasp.

Trujillo was a three-time All-League player, holds the school record in digs, and, as a senior, led CHS volleyball to its first league title in 15 years.

On the tennis court, she was Coupeville’s #1 singles player, a two-time league champ, and one of the more graceful killers the court has witnessed.

With a flow of compliments and pep talk, Trujillo had an uncanny ability to savage an opponent between the lines, while making sure the girl across the net exited feeling like she had somehow also won.

And on a basketball court?

This is the point where I cry for the 10,000th time, since Trujillo gave up the sport after her middle school days, a time when she made not one, but two, players from King’s run crying from the gym.

She was a beast! A BEAST!!! And it was beautiful…

But I digress.

Suffice it to say, Valen is a rare soul, a truly special athlete, and an even better person.

The first time I met her was when she came up to me and thanked me for attending her middle school game(!!), and, while we’re not supposed to play favorites, I most certainly do.

Miss Trujillo is in the top 1% of those I have written about, and seeing her continue to soar and reach for new challenges makes me smile.

She will transform other girl’s lives, building on what her own coaches started with her. I firmly believe this.

Lakeside got itself a new coach. Its players just won the lottery.

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Maddie Georges slices ‘n dices on the basketball court. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

There’s already been one “Maddie Big Time” at Coupeville High School.

Now, there might be two.

For the moment, Maddie Georges, who will be a freshman at CHS in the fall, can go by her other nicknames – “Mad Dog” or “The Wall,” the second of those coming from her defensive stopper skills on the basketball court.

But, as the heir to a strong family athletic history, and a young woman who has shown top-level skills across three sports, she might one day supplant former Wolf great Madeline Strasburg and lay claim to the first nickname.

Georges, who is the younger sister of former CHS standout, and current CMS coach, Alex Evans, plays volleyball, basketball, and softball, and has been an important part of the success of her teams in each sport.

In particular, her 8th grade basketball team went 9-0 with Georges kick-starting the attack, while her Central Whidbey Little League Juniors softball squad just finished a 13-1 season.

For her part, Georges is that rare athlete who not only plays, and excels, in three sports, but enjoys them equally.

“When I play a sport more than the others, I like that one more, and it always keeps changing,” she said. “So no (favorites); I just like to play sports.”

She’s been doing it since she was old enough to walk, inspired by her brother, who starred on CHS football, basketball, and baseball teams.

As she’s progressed in her own hoops career, Georges has played several seasons with Evans coaching her, and it’s been a strong partnership.

“He is my idol and I strive to be like him,” Georges said. “And, possibly, someday, be better than him!”

A big fan of the TV show Jane the Virgin, she enjoy spending time with her friends, something she can do in the sports arena and out, as many of them play the same sports as she does.

While she hails her parents as “my biggest supporters, that keep me going,” Georges is very close to many of the girls she suits up with.

“My teammates, especially Alita (Blouin), Carolyn (Lhamon), Gwen (Gustafson), and Nezi (Keiper), we always keep each other going and I can always count on them,” she said.

While each of her sports is unique, they all contribute to building Georges up and helping her be a high achiever.

“The adrenaline rush, the motivation to try to improve my skills, the practices, and, especially, I love working with my teammates,” Georges said. “They help me strive to get better.”

With the ball frequently in her hands, working as a volleyball setter, a basketball point guard, or a softball catcher, she often finds herself as the focal point of the play.

Each time she’s there, or when she’s on the outskirts of the play, or, far more infrequently, grabbing a quick bit of rest on the bench, Georges tries to always be learning, always be improving.

“My strength as an athlete is striving to get better, and I always try to help my teammates,” she said. “I most importantly try to be a team leader, to really uplift my teammates as best I can.”

That’s an important mind-set for a gifted young woman, who aims to excel in academics and sports, and wants to play for as long as she can.

“I want to continue to strive to get better and try to improve as much as possible,” Georges said. “I want to be able to play sports through high school to college.”

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