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Posts Tagged ‘1950s’

Coupeville High School, old-school style.

We’re on a treasure hunt.

The mission: to find the oldest living Coupeville High School grad.

It was an idea raised by a Wolf alumni of more-recent note, David Ford, and it’s an interesting question.

After putting the query out on Facebook, some of the names which were raised included:

*Gladys Snyder, 90 (Class of 1947)

*Mike Sullivan, 89 on April 8

*Marilyn (Libbey) Bailey, 88(?)

*Gloria Nelson, 88 (Possibly the last living person born at Fort Casey?)

*Don Allen, 87(?)

*Al Sherman, 86

*Dorothy Keefe, 85

*Buzz Stoddard, 83

So, is it Snyder or are we missing someone?

And, even if they’re not the absolute oldest, any other CHS grads in their 80’s or 90’s who should be noted?

Comment on this story or email me at davidsvien@hotmail.com if you have the answer.

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   Mike Criscuola poured in 979 points on the hardwood between 1956-1960, fifth most in school history. (Jack Sell photo)

The past has many tales to tell.

There are many reasons to push for record boards for every sport at Coupeville High School, and remembering and honoring those who have come before us is a primary one.

By digging into the past and putting in hours buried in newspaper archives, the back room of school libraries and the occasional attic or basement, we can, and will, better preserve our town’s sports legacy.

My current project, trying to sift through 100 years of CHS boys basketball and 44 years of Wolf girls hoops, with that history largely scattered to the wind in a billion little pieces, has been equal parts frustrating and enlightening.

Barring the sudden creation of a time machine, reality is this — we can’t put together a complete, 100% accurate history of our town’s high school basketball teams.

It’s just not possible. Too many records have been lost, or never kept in the first place.

But balancing out that doom and gloom is that it is possible to unearth a lot that was once thought lost. To swing the spotlight back to those who should have been remembered earlier.

One such person is Mike Criscuola, or, as I have taken to calling him in recent days, The Lost Legend of the ’50s.

As I pull together a pretty-close-to-comprehensive list of the top 10 scorers in CHS hoops history, many of the names are ones I expected to find.

Jeff Stone, Randy Keefe, Brad Sherman.

Before checking a single old stat sheet, newspaper story or yearbook, I would have put money on that trio, so, finding they sit #1, #3 and #8 all-time, respectively, is hardly a surprise.

But Criscuola was not a name I had heard before, and, without this latest round of research, he would have been lost in the annuals of time to me.

Which would have been a shame, since he scored the fifth-most points of any Wolf boys basketball player.

He was a man among boys, literally towering over most of his teammates, from the moment he made his varsity high school basketball debut in 1955-1956 … as an eighth grader.

Criscuola only appeared in four varsity games that year, missing his lone free throw attempt and failing to score.

But, from that moment on, he would be a fixture for the Wolves, one of the most consistent players ever to pull on the jersey.

Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at around 220 during his playing days, Criscuola knocked down 115 points as a freshman (fifth-best on the team) and 253 (third-best) as a sophomore.

His final two years, ’58-’59 and ’59-’60, he led the Wolves in scoring, going off for 306 and 305 points, respectively, to bring his high school career total to 979 points.

During his junior season, Criscuola led Coupeville to within a whisker of one of the great postseason upsets of all time.

La Conner and Darrington were overwhelming favorites at districts, and the first page of the tourney program devoted 80% of its space to listing their strengths.

Coupeville got a lonely paragraph at the end, a brief mention of “Strong Mike” and had, in the opinion of the writer, “faint hopes.”

Ha!

The Wolves savaged Sultan 42-25, drilled Darrington (and its 6-foot-7 center, Randy Phillips) 47-36, then lost a donnybrook with La Conner in the title game, falling 62-55 as the Braves earned a trip to state.

It would be 11 years more before Stone and the ’69-’70 Wolves became the first Whidbey Island hoops team to win a district title, but a statement had been made in ’59 by “Strong Mike.”

Criscuola was (I believe) the school’s career scoring leader at his graduation, and held that mark for a decade, until Stone topped him right before graduating in ’70.

Even now, 57 years after his last game as a Wolf, with the addition of the three-point shot and a much-quicker, offensive-orientated game, Criscuola’s output stands tall.

Stone (1137), Mike Bagby (1104), Keefe (1088) and Jeff Rhubottom (1012) are the only CHS players to have surpassed him in almost six decades of play.

Somewhere down the road, hopefully soon, when CHS raises a basketball record board, Criscuola’s name will be back in the spotlight.

Until then, we’d like to take a moment today to welcome “Strong Mike” into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, his name will live up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, forever a vital part of our town’s sports history.

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