Archive for the ‘Whidbey’s Best’ Category

Lauren Grove

Lauren Grove always impressed me.

Go back, before she set records, before she was one of the few Wolves to play a sport in every one of their 12 high school seasons, and there was a young girl just entering high school.

Standing behind me in the entrance to the Coupeville High School gym, Lauren pointed over my shoulder at the CHS track and field record board.

“I’m going to be up there. I promise you.”

Then she smiled and walked away.

And you know what? Lauren didn’t lie.

By the time she graduated in 2017, sure enough, her name was up on the big board, multiple times.

She also had four state track meet medals, one of just seven Wolf girls to reach that number in school history.

Along the way, Lauren was also an accomplished volleyball, soccer, and basketball athlete, a strong student, a great big sister, and a much-loved baby sitter.

Three years later, she faces the biggest challenge of her life, and I hope she knows how much support she has.

Lauren suffered severe burns this weekend in a grease fire, and is at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

She had extensive surgery Monday, and a second surgery is scheduled for Friday.

Lauren’s mother, Mindy, is posting updates on an online journal, which you can find here:


If you have a moment, consider leaving a message for Lauren, or for her family.

This is a rough situation, made worse by the ongoing pandemic restricting access for loved ones at hospitals.

Miss Grove, know that you are not alone. Ever.

You have a (Wolf) Nation behind you, and we are here for you, in mind and spirit.

I have seen the intensity in your eyes, and witnessed your accomplishments. I know the size of your heart.

Ask me what I believe in, and the answer is simple – I believe in you, Lauren.


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Former Wolf great Marc Aparicio with children Katelyn.

Former Wolf great Marc Aparicio with children Andrew and Katelyn.

The glory days, with the stache-sportin' Aparicio brothers

The glory days, with the stache-sportin’ Aparicio brothers front and center.

The ‘stache is comin’ back! Maybe.

Marc and Mitch Aparicio rocked the mustaches back in the day, when both were standout athletes at Coupeville High School.

Now, as he brings a decorated career in the United States Coast Guard to a close with a retirement ceremony in June, the clean-shaven Marc occasionally daydreams of bringing back the glory that once resided on his upper lip.

“I miss the ‘stache. Not every 15-year-old boy can look as good as I did with my ‘stache – but my son is getting there,” Aparicio said with a smile. “My senior year I even shaved my head, but left the ‘stache – brilliant! I never missed a dance…

“Now that I’m retired from the military, I’m thinking of putting the ‘stache back to work,” he added. “Maybe start a local brewery and grow a gorgeous handle bar ‘stache like they had in the old days – watch out ladies!”

He once told his mom “I want to see the world!” and 27 years later, he has lived that dream.

Now back in Seattle and the father of two (11-year-old Andrew and nine-year-old Katelyn), he’s becoming a more frequent visitor back to The Rock, and may one day soon come home for good.

For now, the 1988 CHS grad gets to hang out with his big brother more (“We enjoy golf together, an occasional one-on-one basketball game and tennis. I’d say we’re about even on wins…”), which is huge.

Mitch was a year ahead in school and set the standard Marc tried to reach.

“The best part of playing sports in Coupeville was having an older brother playing with me, and pushing me to be the best I could,” Marc said. “High school sports were the foundation of who I became in life; I look at my brother as the foreman that helped build that foundation.

“Even though he was tough on me, sometimes very tough – I always looked up to him.”

The duo ended up on the football field together, with Marc at slot back and receiver, often leading the charge down the field blocking for his older brother, who was the team’s star runner.

“He use to get mad at me when I was blocking down field during one of his runs when he would run right into my back,” Aparicio said with a laugh. “Even though he was mad, I learned to block better down field.”

When Mitch headed off to college, Marc picked up some of Coupeville’s rushing load, but eventually settled in as a blocker for running backs Aaron Hall and Brad Brown.

While he enjoyed his senior season, it wasn’t the same without his sibling and Marc spent many weekends up in Bellingham hanging out with Mitch (“When he would let me”).

The older brother often came back to town, as well, and his visits inspired Marc to play extra hard.

“I was nervous, so I would always try my best when he was around.”

The brothers always had each others back, which was very evident during a baseball game during Marc’s senior year.

Aparicio stole home and blew up the catcher on the play.

As he headed back to the dugout, the opposing third baseman tackled him in retribution, only to suddenly have Mitch explode from the stands to back up his brother.

“It was pretty cool to have a big brother growing up. I can tell you many stories about when we were living in Seattle where he did the same,” Marc said. “So, I guess it’s hard to explain sometimes, but most of my sports at Coupeville remind me of my brother.

“I never tried to be as good as him; just having him see me try was good enough.”

While he doesn’t remember any specific awards (“My football helmet did accumulate some Wolf paws, but honestly I can’t remember what they were for”) Marc had a very successful run at CHS.

He lettered three years in football and twice each in baseball, basketball and track, going to state five times.

“I was very fortunate to be in the middle of a three-year period with great high school athletes,” Aparicio said. “Mitch’s class had guys like Rick Alexander, Jay Roberts, Dave Ford and Steve Konek,  my class with Dan Nieder, Brad Brown, Chad Gale and the class below with Tony Ford, etc., we had a lot of talent.

Even more now, he appreciates the men who taught him the games, as well.

“We had a lot of great coaches — Ron Bagby, Cec Stuurmans and Brian O’Hara made the most impact to my life,” Aparicio said. “All great coaches in my eyes. Didn’t matter the sport, they would push us, teach us and care about us throughout the season.”

And while wins and losses mattered, the lessons learned turned out to have the biggest impact.

“Although I was competitive, I think what sports gave me mostly was a sense of teamwork, commitment, honor, integrity and responsibility,” Aparicio said. “I looked at sports as a way to contribute the best I could for the betterment of the entire team.

“My goal was to do my part, not necessarily to stand out. It didn’t matter much to me that I was the star, it just mattered that we all worked together as a team,” he added. “We won as a team and lost as team. I know that I didn’t come up with this alone, it was the coaches and teachers at Coupeville that taught me – I guess I was the guy that took their motivational speeches literally.

“I didn’t know it then, but those simple lessons I learned in high school stayed with me and benefited me throughout my career.”

Aparicio remembers his time in Coupeville fondly (“I absolutely loved going to school at CHS”) and it was about more than sports.

He played in the band, took part in numerous clubs and was a volunteer fire fighter, often getting called out of practice with teammates to go fight fires.

“I was given the opportunity to play every sport, and improve as an athlete. I also had the ability to do many other things while playing sports,” Aparicio said. “The small school really gave us a lot of opportunities other schools may not have.”

With strong fan support (“My mom and step dad were dedicated members of the booster club. Every game they were there, rain or shine, with their friends”), Aparicio had several games that remain with him decades later.

Playing against Chimacum on the gridiron, he led Coupeville in penalties (“Late hits, I believe”) but redeemed himself by intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown (“So I guess it evened out”).

As a senior, facing off with La Conner, he had “the run of my career,” taking a pitch 80 yards. However, he was 85 yards from the end zone when he started, going down on the five-yard line when his body gave out.

Having played both sides of the line all game, he was dehydrated and fainted, providing his coach, Ron Bagby, with “the scariest day of his coaching career.”

Moments like that, or when he was picked off third in a baseball state playoff game by a right-handed pitcher (“devastating”) helped keep him from developing a huge ego.

“I feel like I was more of a team player – I contributed and did my part, but really never stood out – and I’m good with that.”

While he jokes that he’ll always be referenced as “Mitch’s Brother,” he has no issues with that and enjoyed the ride.

“I’m proud to be his brother,” Aparicio said. “I hope they remember me as one of the athletes that went through Coupeville at a very impressive time – maybe I’m not one who won all the awards, or single handily took us to state, but one that was a contributor, a team player, an important part of the outcome.”

After leaving high school, Aparicio took the lessons learned and implemented them in his life as he pursued a career of excellence off of Whidbey.

“Learning to become a team player in an organized sport at a high school level is extremely important for all young athletes. Team sports teach us so many life lessons,” he said. “Sometimes young players do not realize the lessons they are learning while they are young, and do not quite understand the impact of learning them, or NOT taking advantage of learning them – unfortunately some great athletes in high school grow up without seeing the bigger picture.

“Fortunately for me, I had great coaches and a great mentor as a brother. Some values I learned playing sports were commitment, teamwork, dedication and integrity,” Aparicio added. “Having these personality traits already embedded in my head from high school sports made me better at what I became in the military.”

After stints in the Air National Guard (electrician) and Army National Guard (heavy equipment operator), he joined the US Coast Guard and was accepted into flight school.

He eventually became an aeronautical engineer, putting in six months of ice patrol and search and rescue flight duties around the Bering Sea.

From there the accomplishments are staggering and carried him around the world — chief engineer for the H-65 helicopter fleet, maintenance test pilot, project manager on two of the biggest USCG acquisition programs in history, member of a helicopter operational unit, senior flight instructor and much, much more.

While attending graduate school in California Aparicio was an Associate Professor of system engineering, defense acquisitions and logistics.

Mitch calls me “Professor” now as a nick name,” he said. “I think it’s pretty funny – because I would never have thought I would have enjoyed school so much.”

As he prepares to retire from the Coast Guard, Aparicio — who has put in 3,000+ flight hours on missions from the Arctic to Puerto Rico — is currently working as a consultant for Boeing.

“I’m very pleased of my career and of what I have been able to accomplish and extremely honored to have had the opportunity to serve my country,” he said. “However, it all started with building the foundation of who I am, before and while in high school.

“Coupeville, my friends, coaches and mentors and my amazing family prepared me well, but not without hard work.”

Words of wisdom from two mentors have stayed with him.

“Outside of sports, I would say Ozell Jackson had the biggest impact on my life,” Aparicio said. “In an area where your athletic ability would not shine, Mr. Jackson taught me to use my mind and to attempt things in life of which I was afraid – I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember something like “try things that are difficult so you can learn more about them.”

“Also my father (Jorge Aparicio) would say something similar. Don’t keep doing the easy things, try the things you don’t know anything about, so you can learn,” he added. “But he would also say “but don’t be a hero guy.”

“I took that as, don’t go crazy, and be careful. My coaches, teachers and parents taught me to enjoy learning and to continue improving myself – I guess that’s what I got the most out of high school.”

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Taya Boonstra: Legend

Taya Boonstra: Legend

21 years ago a legend was born.

If rumors are correct, Taya Boonstra, at approximately ten seconds after birth, popped her eyes open, looked around and yelled “Hey, where’s my camera?!?!?”

Then, she found it, cocked a finger and winked at the photographer and we were off.

There is a long, proud tradition of camera-lovin’, photo bomb-workin’ young women attending Coupeville High School, but, really, when you get down to it, only two can go toe-to-toe at the very tip-top of the game.

One is urban legend/force of nature McKayla Bailey. The other the sensational, bright as a whip, fast ‘n fun Tatiana.

Or, as the Everett Herald used to love to call her from time to time, Taya Boonscara.

Taya is now, and has always been, a bright ray of sunshine in this world.

She is genuinely one of the sweetest, kindest, loveliest, most talented people you are ever likely to meet.

And I’m not just saying that because she once baked me cookies…

A lot of athletes have come and gone at CHS, and many more are on their way.

Some will achieve great athletic moments. Some will be top students. Some will be first-rate people.

Few will be able to combine all three aspects and effortlessly take it to the level that Miss Boonstra does every day.

As you celebrate your birthday today, Taya, and in every day after that, I hope you always know how much others think of you.

How proud of you we all are.

What a wonderful impact you have had, and continue to have, on everyone around you.

You spread grace and joy everywhere you go, Taya. That is a gift and you are the very definition of gifted, in every sense of the word.

Your first 21 years have been remarkable. All the years to come will just grow the legend even more.

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Haley Marx (left)

Haley Marx (left), still smilin’ at Wazzu.

With dad Steve.

With dad Steve.

Haley Marx puts sunshine in the world.

The former Coupeville High School athlete (a team captain in both soccer and basketball), Homecoming royalty and Senior Class President was rarely without her smile.

Through big wins and tough losses Marx remained as upbeat as they come. The smile never flickered and it always seemed very genuine.

Her teammates gravitated to her and she never shied away from being a leader, on or off the court.

Supremely sweet to all around her, yet tough as steel in the heat of athletic battle, she remains one of my favorites of recent years.

Haley was always easy to root for during her time in the red and black, and I doubt anything has changed.

These days she’s repping Wazzu colors and turns the big 2-0 today.

Marx may be gone from Cow Town, at least for the moment, but she’s never forgotten.

Happy birthday, Haley! May your special day be as awesome as you are.

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Cameron Coupe (left) and Alexander Roman, out on their trek. (Photo from Walk for Seattle Children's Facebook page)

Cameron Coupe (left) and Alexander Roman, out on their trek. (Photo from Walk for Seattle Children’s Facebook page)

Defying his last name, Cameron Coupe spent his high school years starring for sports teams outside of Cow Town.

He and his family lived on the South end of the Island, and Coupe played soccer and football for the Falcons, graduating in 2013.

Let’s not hold that against him.

He might not have been a Wolf, but he’s a good guy and that shines through brightly with what he and fellow Washington State University student Alexander “Zan” Roman are doing this summer.

The pair decided to walk from Seattle to New York to raise money for health causes close to their lives.

Coupe is trying to bring in donations for Seattle Children’s Hospital to honor the memory of his cousin Katie, who fought through two battles with cancer there.

Roman’s charity is the hospital’s Autism Center. He has an older brother who is autistic.

To follow the pair’s journey across America, you can hop over to their Facebook page, where they provide updates:


Or, take a look at their site, where you can get all their pertinents and (if you feel like it) donate to the cause:


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