Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Curtin’

John McClarin and doubles partner Joseph Wedekind worked hard over four years to become a powerful duo. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Few shots got past Sebastian Davis during his days on the court.

Grab a racket and get ready to rumble.

Part 2 of our 5-part series focusing on Coupeville coaches giving their side of the argument on the best players to wear the red and black, arrives almost as quickly as one of Aaron Curtin’s serves.

This time out, CHS tennis coach Ken Stange pops by to give the lowdown on the players he would want on his roster for a winner-take-all showdown.

With 13 years at the helm of the Wolf boys and girls net programs (26 seasons total), he’s seen more than his share of players.

But let’s have him tell us about it:

Here is my All-CHS Boys’ Tennis Team (2005-present):

#1 Singles — Aaron Curtin (Class of 2015)

Aaron was the youngest of the Curtin family. His brothers played for me, too.

Long, fast, strong, and intelligent, Aaron is far and away the best male singles player I’ve ever had the chance to coach at CHS.

In his senior year, he took 8th place at the state singles tourney. As a junior, he made it to state in doubles.

He’s the only player I’ve coached to go to state twice.

He was a quiet leader and garnered a great deal of respect from his teammates.

There haven’t been too many Wolf players that could push me around on the singles court; Aaron is one of them.

One of the things that separated Aaron from the competition was his ability to raise his game in the most crucial moments. He was never afraid of taking the risk to hit a big shot when the score was working against him.

With his quiet leadership, he inspired other great players like Joseph Wedekind, John McClarin, Joey Lippo, and William Nelson.

He came from a family of tennis players and he added a great deal to the CHS tennis family.

One of my greatest tennis memories of Aaron was when he played his qualifying match to go to state in singles.

He had already beaten his opponent from Vashon, but a rules technicality forced him to play the match again. He was not happy about having to prove it, but he went out and did just that.

It took almost three hours to win that match, but he did it.

#2 Singles — Ben Hayes (’11)

Six-feet-five of pure athleticism and love for sport. That is how I define Ben as a tennis player.

He was graceful on the soccer pitch and basketball court, but in tennis, he flat-out dominated his opponents.

He was the first CHS tennis player to take a set of singles from me.

Before Ben, I had never coached a player as talented as him. He just made it look so easy, and he frustrated his opponents to no end.

He had a huge serve, unbelievable speed, and a ton of want. That made for a deadly combination.

Back then, our district tennis tourney was the toughest in the state, but he still managed to come one match shy of qualifying for state. In most other years, he would have made it to Yakima.

I bet that even if he hasn’t picked up a racket since he graduated from high school, he would still beat the pants off of most players.

#3 Singles — (tie) — Connor Tasoff (’10) and Sebastian Davis (’16)

It was difficult to pick one player as my #3 singles guy.

Connor and Sebo had similar CHS tennis careers. Both spent time playing singles and doubles, both won league singles titles, and both fell short of making it to state.

Both were also leaders of the team, both athletically and academically.

Sebastian, despite almost always having a lead role in the fall theater production, always found a way to be the star on both the court and the stage.

What’s more, his did it while maintaining a ridiculously high academic standard.

He didn’t have the big serve and forehand that most singles players desired, but he did have amazing drive and passion for the game.

He kept focus, ran every ball down, and played every shot like it was the shot that could win the match. That kind of attitude inspired others to reach similar heights.

I credit Connor for legitimizing the boys’ tennis team during my tenure as coach.

He convinced his parents to put up a wall over their garage door. He played in the off-season. He took lessons. He went to camps. He watched tennis on television. He attended tournaments.

He and I were even lucky enough to watch the US Davis Cup Team win the title over Russia, when it was held in Portland several years ago.

He still strings our players’ rackets.

Connor cared. He cared about his school, his team, and his game.

He worked harder than any other boy that has ever played for me. No lie. He worked that hard.

He and I used to joke around about being mild to moderately athletic and how people like us had to work harder than the natural athletes.

I don’t say this to belittle him.

He just wasn’t the athlete that Jordan Lamb was. He had to work harder. And he did.

One of my favorite memories of Connor came just after he finished his final season at CHS. Having been eliminated from the district singles tourney, Connor was understandably upset.

The manager of the Nordstrom Tennis Center at the UW had taken notice of Connor’s passion and love for the game.

She asked him about his plans for the following year and when he told her he’d be attending the UW, she offered him a job on the spot. He ended up working there and stringing rackets for the UW tennis team.

#1 Doubles — Ben Etzell (’14)/Aaron Curtin (’15)

Aaron is the only boy to be on both the singles and doubles lists.

I’ll speak a little about Aaron, seeing that I shared some thoughts about him in the singles portion of this list.

In his doubles duo, Aaron represented experience and quiet leadership. He’d played a bunch of doubles during his ninth grade year, and I charged him with bringing Ben (who had only turned out as a junior) up to speed.

Aaron originally didn’t want to play doubles, instead hoping to make a run in singles.

I’m glad I was able to convince him to partner up with Ben. They made a fabulous duo, going all the way to state and winning a match before being eliminated.

Ben was the kid I tried and tried to convince to play tennis. Luckily, as a junior, he finally gave in.

Working with Ben was easy. He loved the work, he loved the teammates, and he loved the game.

What’s more, he was one of the most talented athletes I’ve ever worked with.

To begin tennis as a junior and qualify for state as a senior is, for most people, a fantasy at best. Ben made it a reality.

I remember his very first day of practice. I was trying to get him to slow down his swing, to no avail.

By the end of the day, he was hitting 90 MPH serves.

He played tennis with the unbridled joy of a little league baseball player and the heart of a mercenary.

Following his collegiate baseball career has been a pleasure.

I hope that as an educator, he decides to coach tennis as well as baseball. His energy would benefit tons of young athletes.

#2 Doubles — Joey Lippo (’18)/William Nelson (’18)

Joey and Will played doubles together for all four of their years at CHS.

In their senior season, they came up one point shy of making it to the state tourney. Had they won that point, they would be sharing the #1 spot with Aaron and Ben.

That said, they are one of the best doubles teams I’ve ever coached. Silky smooth William and big banging Joey.

Their evolution was a beautiful thing to watch. From skinny ninth graders to fully grown seniors, each year showed massive growth in their skills.

They were also, in the words of Stuart Scott, “cooler than the other side of the pillow.”

They were pretty unflappable and rarely showed emotion on the court.

They played so many big matches through the years, and they often drew a crowd when they played, which says a lot because tennis usually does not draw a crowd.

Much like Ben and Aaron, tennis was their alternate sport, with William excelling in soccer and Joey finding success in baseball.

Watching them blend their main sport skills into tennis was interesting.

William had instant top tennis footwork, while Joey could hit the fuzz off the ball from day one. It didn’t take long for them to round into a top-flight doubles team.

#3 Doubles — (tie) — John McClarin (’17)/ Joseph Wedekind (’17) and Jordan Lamb (’10)/Nathan Lamb (’13)

Both duos won league championships, with Joseph and John playing together for three years and the Lamb brothers playing together during Jordan’s senior and Nathan’s freshman year.

All four of them were influential leaders of their teams.

Over the course of 13 years, there have been quite a few sets of siblings that have played tennis.

For me, it was always all the more enjoyable to have siblings, either on the team at the same time or stretching out over several years.

Lamb, Knoll, Curtin, Etzell, Nelson, Weaver, Monroe/Wright, Aparicio, Renninger, Akins, Ginnings, and a few more that don’t come to mind at this moment, are the families that have served CHS tennis well.

The Lambs were a dynamic duo.

Jordan, with his instructional video quality swing and his high level of consistency and Nathan, the aggressive and free-swinging gunslinger of a tennis player, made for some exciting tennis.

They didn’t possess the 12+ combined feet of length that most of my other teams flaunted, but they played big nonetheless.

There was a yin/yang quality about their playing styles.

Jordan has previous success with classmate Connor Tasoff and Nathan went on to play big at #1 singles.

I’m hoping for the Lamb kids to one day bring their children home to CHS so the tennis team can have some more of that Lamb athleticism.

Joseph and John. Where do I start?

They began as a couple of clumsy freshmen. However, they worked very diligently during the season. More importantly, they worked even harder during the off-season, and not just during the summer.

They played in the cold, wind, and even the rain. They played almost every day.

In an effort to gain court time during the spring, they signed up as managers for the girls’ team. They ended up becoming assistant coaches, so to speak.

From the bottom of the ladder as freshmen to the top of the ladder and league doubles champs as seniors is an impressive arc.

They were universally respected by every CHS player, male and female.

They made my life a great deal easier by being trustworthy leaders, and their imprint will last for a couple of more years, even though they have graduated.

#4 Doubles — Brian Miller (’08)/Jake Weaver (’07)

Brian and Jake were a combined 12′ 10″ tall. Lobbing over them was a no-go.

They were my first legitimate boys’ doubles team. They led by setting a quality example, and they were ferocious on the court.

Unfortunately for them, Friday Harbor had a state doubles team during that time, and that kept Brian and Jake from picking up some hardware.

Brian was one of the fastest 6′ 6″ kids I’d ever seen and he had the power to match his frame.

Jake was long and lean, and he could run fast all day long. He got to balls that I couldn’t dream of chasing down.

Brian and Jake were the pair that originally set the bar for the guys’ team after I took over as coach. The younger kids saw the bar and surpassed it.


Return Thursday for part 3 of our five-part series, as Stange reveals his all-time girls tennis lineup.

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Brian Shank (John Fisken photos)

   CHS senior Brian Shank (12) slices through the alumni defense. (John Fisken photos)

Jared Helmstadter

Jared Helmstadter, back in the gym and ready to drain jumpers once again.

Joey Lippo

Joey Lippo is locked-in for the new CHS season, which begins Nov. 29.

Hunter and Desmond

   Current Wolf star Hunter Smith (back) gets reunited with former teammate Desmond Bell during a battle for the ball.

Aaron Curtin

Former Wolf ace Aaron Curtin unleashes a shot.


Bell, perhaps having flashbacks to the olden days of running lines.

Hunter Smith

Smith is locked and loaded.


“Old school” and new school, together again.

Now, I’m not really sure we can call someone “old school” if they graduated five months ago.

Call them what you will, but a batch of Wolf boys basketball alumni from the past couple of seasons returned to the CHS gym Wednesday to wage war with the current occupants.

The score remains top secret (at least for now), but John Fisken was on hand to snap pics as the action went down.

To see all of his photos, pop over to:


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Erin Rosenkranz (left) is joined by Aaron Curtin and her parents, Scott and Kerry (McCormick) Rosenkranz.

   Erin Rosenkranz (left) is joined by Aaron Curtin and her parents, Scott and Kerry (McCormick) Rosenkranz.

We are family.

Three of the four inductees into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame today have claimed the same house for years.

So, with all three being welcomed into these hallowed digital walls at the same time, we’re being thoughtful and ensuring no family arguments about who ranks where in the athletic hierarchy.

Just call me Mr. Considerate.

Anyway, with that, we fling open the doors and usher in the 68th class to gain entrance — Scott Rosenkranz, Kerry (McCormick) Rosenkranz, Erin Rosenkranz and interloper Aaron Curtin.

After this, you’ll find the fab foursome at the top of the blog, residing under the Legends tab.

Or, you can just swing by the Rosenkranz household around dinner-time. That works too.

Our first inductee, Kerry, is the only one of the family not to be inducted under the Rosenkranz name.

She’s being honored for her days as a standout cross country runner at Coupeville High School, and when we induct female athletes, we use their maiden names, since that’s how they competed and are listed in the record books.

Back when she was a McCormick, mama Rosenkranz was a team captain who helped lead the Wolf harriers to state as a junior and senior.

The first visit, in 1981, is a landmark moment, the first time a female sports team from CHS made it to the big dance in any sport.

Those trailblazing Wolves finished second at the Cascade League championships, third at districts and eighth at state, before McCormick and the core of the roster returned to achieve new greatness in ’82.

Bolstered by the addition of a whip-thin freshman named Natasha Bamberger, who would go on to win five individual state titles in track and cross country, Coupeville won a league title and claimed 4th at state, sending McCormick out on top.

Later she would meet and marry our second inductee, the low-key Mr. Rosenkranz.

Soccer has boomed on Whidbey in recent years and it’s coaches like Scott who have been in the trenches, doing the hard work day after day.

Working along side fellow Hall o’ Famer Sean LeVine, the duo turned Whidbey’s select girls’ soccer program into a powerhouse which has gone toe-to-toe with big city teams in recent years.

As Islander alumni continue to compete at both the high school and college level, while a steady stream of younger players rises through the ranks, his impact is immeasurable.

As a modest guy, he may try and brush off the praise, but girls soccer on our Island would not be where it is today without Scott Rosenkranz, and that’s a stone-cold fact.

Kerry and Scott’s progeny, Erin, is, like her parents, low-key, modest, not quick to single herself out by hootin’ and hollerin’. She simply goes out, kicks butt and walks away, quiet smile gracing her face.

As a distance runner on the Wolf track squad, she followed in the (many) footsteps of her mom, but it was while playing “the beautiful game” she made her biggest impact.

A brilliant soccer player, both for CHS and the Islanders select program, she was, with fellow Hall o’ Famers Micky LeVine and Jacki Ginnings, the glue which held both teams together.

Few have played with the intensity she brought to the pitch, and virtually none have played with such grace.

And, while he’s not related to the Rosenkranz family (that I know of), our final inductee, Curtin, played all of his sports with a similar style to how they conduct themselves.

The man they call “Church” was a CHS Male Athlete of the Year and one of the best to ever wear the red and black, a talented, deceptively calm athlete who combined raw talent with an inner drive like few have possessed.

Put him on a tennis court and he was deadly, making it to state as both a doubles and singles player, medaling in the latter as a senior.

He could beat you with power, he could beat you with pace and he could always beat you with his brains.

Slide Curtin onto a basketball court and he was a silky-smooth shooter, a relentless ball-hawk and an ideal teammate, especially during years when Wolf basketball struggled to rebuild from the ground up.

But, if we had to choose a sport to truly hail him for, it would be baseball.

A deadly hitter who thrived in big-game situations for legendary Wolf hardball guru Willie Smith, Curtin was also a go-to ace on the mound.

He may not have always thrown quite as hard as fellow hurler Ben Etzell, but he was impeccable with his control and rang up his fair share of punch-outs.

In all of his sports, Curtin, who might have raised his voice once, half an octave, in four years, was a leader, a guy who other Wolves would have followed into a fire-fight without a second thought.

You don’t have to be a screamer to be heard, and he was a fully-formed man among young men, a superior athlete who let his actions speak loudest.

And they spoke very, very loudly.

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Kyle Bodamer, breaking bats (and hearts) wherever he goes. (Shelli Trumbull photos)

   Kyle Bodamer, breaking bats (and hearts) wherever he goes. (Shelli Trumbull photos)

Wolf seniors (l to r) Aaron Curtin, Aaron Trumbull, Josh Bayne and Bodamer

  Wolf seniors (l to r) Aaron Curtin, Aaron Trumbull, Josh Bayne and Bodamer get serious for one last group photo op.

Bayne has places to go and he always believes in arriving early.

Bayne has places to go and he always believes in arriving early.

South Whidbey's Trent Fallon (middle)

   South Whidbey’s Trent Fallon (middle) and Mo Hamsa (beard) joke around with their Coupeville counterparts.

Trumbull and Curtin, who played together since little league, exchange one last fist bump.

   Trumbull and Curtin, who have played together since little league, exchange one last fist bump.

One hurdle down, one to go.

Coupeville High School senior pitcher Aaron Curtin was nominated for the All-State baseball series Wednesday after playing in the 1A/2B/1B Northwest Regional Feeder Games in Bellingham.

Curtin was one of 10 players to be nominated, and the only one from the four Wolf players who participated in the feeder games.

Fellow CHS seniors Aaron Trumbull, Kyle Bodamer and Josh Bayne wrapped up their high school careers by playing in the two-game series at Joe Martin Field.

Final decisions on the All-State rosters will be announced June 7, with the games in Yakima June 13-14.

If Curtin makes the final cut, it would give Coupeville a representative for the second straight year.

Last year, Ben Etzell got the call and pitched in the second game at All-State.

The feeder games in Bellingham were part of a state-wide effort to showcase senior diamond men.

Coupeville’s quartet played for the Americans team, which was coached by South Whidbey’s Tom Fallon.

They tied 6-6 in the opener Wednesday, then lost 4-3 in the nightcap.

Nooksack Valley’s Cole Mattice won the second game when he singled home Meridian’s Tanner Tutterrow with two outs in the seventh inning.

The winning rally included a boost from a player who could have been a Wolf.

Taylor Gardner attended elementary school in Coupeville, before a family move took his baseball skills to Nooksack Valley.

His walk in the seventh, packaged between singles from Tutterrow and Overlake’s Mike Lau, juiced the bags for Mattice.

Along with Curtin, the other nominees for All-State include Tuterrow, Ryan Gelwicks (Nooksack), David McLaurin (Cedar Park Christian), Andrew Young (Darrington), Curtis Handy (Nooksack), Mo Hamsa (South Whidbey), Aaron Mell (Overlake), Evan Sather (Overlake) and Gibson Fichter (Concrete).

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Aaron Curtin (Photo courtesy Ken Stange)

  Aaron Curtin submits to a photo op with his state tennis medal. (Photo courtesy Ken Stange)

Curtin flies up court during basketball season. (John Fisken photos)

Curtin flies up court during basketball season. (John Fisken photo)

The joy of  a game-winning hit. (Shelli Trumbull photo)

The joy of a game-winning hit. (Shelli Trumbull photo)

Let’s take a moment to honor the quiet warrior.

For four years Aaron Curtin has been as good an athlete as Coupeville High School has had.

Tennis. Basketball. Baseball.

He was talented at whatever he played, and he attacked everything he did with passion.

Aaron was his own man the whole way, as well.

He would pop up in photos, usually with a small smile, but he didn’t hunger for the camera the way some Wolves do.

A lot of what we do here at Coupeville Sports is full of exclamation points and kids goofing off for the camera and big-bigger-biggest.

Curtin chose to glide through all that, being a great athlete, a quality guy, but a low key one.

Which is totally his right.

I give him all the credit in the world for doing things his way, the way that made him comfortable.

He handled his business with class every step of the way, and his family, his coaches, and us, the fans, should be proud we got to be a small part of it.

His tennis coach, Ken Stange, reflected on Aaron in the moments after Curtin placed eighth at the state tennis tourney, fighting through four epic matches in two days of searing Yakima heat:

“It was beautiful to watch.

I’ve spent four seasons with Aaron. He played nearly 100 matches for CHS, over the course of four regular and post seasons.

I was so incredibly proud of his effort, and was happy he’d be earning a medal.

I have a hard time finding words to describe the moments he and I shared, just after the match.

It’s surprising because I’m usually not shy about descriptions.

That’s okay, though.

This one was special–it was Aaron’s and it was ours. He’s a pretty quiet and private young man, so I guess it’s appropriate that I can’t give you a description.

It was such an enjoyable experience, and I think it was even more so for Aaron.”

As he prepares to graduate this week, Curtin leaves behind visible reminders of his excellence.

Every time Wolf fans enter the CHS gym in the years to come, they will see his face on the wall of honor, forever enshrined as one of the Wolf Athlete of the Years.

But it will be the memories that will last longer.

The mental images of a young man of sterling character, who fought through tough times on the basketball court as a program rebuilt with young players.

Of a quietly confident veteran who baffled hitters with his fastball, tossing a no-hitter on his home diamond.

Of a class act who never gave in, never gave up, always, ALWAYS fought to the final moment and sacrificed himself for his teammates.

Aaron Curtin was one of the greats, and he stayed true to himself every step of the way.

It was a pleasure to cover your exploits, sir.

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