Posts Tagged ‘anniversaries’

Izzy Wells snags a rebound during the last high school game played by CHS before COVID-19 shut things down. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Six months down. Five to go?

Well, it’s a yes to the former, a maybe to the latter.

Tuesday – August 11, 2020 – marks six full months since the last time a Coupeville High School athletic team played an officially sanctioned game in any sport.

Way back on Feb. 11, the Wolf girls basketball team fell beneath a hail of three-point bombs put up by visiting Meridian, and was ushered out of the district playoffs after absorbing its second loss in as many nights.

That brought a close to a strong 12-7 campaign for CHS, playing its first season under new coach Scott Fox.

With nine of 13 players who scored during the season eligible to return, plus supernova sophomore Ja’Kenya Hoskins, who was injured the whole year, the future was, and is, a bright one.

At the time, the sadness of a season ending was muted by the knowledge most of the Wolf players would roll on into spring sports, returning to softball fields, tennis courts, or track ovals.

When the last stragglers exited the gym the night of Feb. 11, they had no way of knowing what was coming, or, what was probably already lingering in the air.

The rise of COVID-19, the moment when it went from being a whisper to a full-blown pandemic, was still around the corner, and no one knew the shutdown of sports was on its way.

Now, as we sit six months down the road, we know Wolf athletes never got a chance to play that spring sports season.

And, we know that after a summer in which traditional activities like little league were left by the wayside, there will be no fall high school sports season.

The good news is that fall, unlike spring, is not being outright cancelled, but instead moved, with sports such as football and volleyball hopping from September starts to March beginnings.

The hope, put forth by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, is that high school sports will return at the start of 2021, with basketball picking up where it left off.

Right now, practices are set to start the last week of December, with a compressed season, in which schools can play 70% of a normal schedule, beginning in January.

Then, if things hold, fall sports occupy March and April, and spring sports return in May and June.

But, as we know, COVID-19 operates as it chooses to operate, and not how we might like it to, meaning nothing is set in stone.

This week, though, we note the six-month anniversary of high school sports being AWOL in Coupeville.

I say “note,” because “celebrate” is probably not the right word.

Instead of being mad, though, we can look back to that last game and remember the highlights, of what was, and what can be again.

Facing off with an ultra-aggressive, very-successful Meridian squad which made it all the way to state, Coupeville had to dig out of a hole all night long.

Which doesn’t mean the Wolves didn’t have their spotlight moments.

Midway through the second quarter, sparked by a steal and bucket from senior Scout Smith, CHS went on a 10-4 surge.

During that run, underclassmen Anya LeavellCarolyn Lhamon, and Maddie Georges all scored, with Smith setting up Leavell on a note-perfect pass slipped between backpedaling defenders.

Then, late in the game, popular Wolf senior Tia Wurzrainer, celebrating her birthday, pulled up on the move and hit nothing but net on the final jump shot of her stellar prep hoops career.

That sent Coupeville fans into a tizzy in what would be, for now, the final great explosion by Wolf faithful at a high school sports event.

The six months since have been far quieter, and there is no doubt, far lonelier for many.

But the future is unwritten.

Just as we didn’t know that night that things would take a turn for the worse, some day we may look back at today and say, hey, this was where it all began to turn around.

So, I say, stay positive. Look forward. Continue to work.

There will be a day where, once again, Wolf athletes will play, Coupeville fans will be in the stands, and life will be back in a more-familiar rhythm.

None of us know how many hours, days, or months that will be.

But it will be. That I know.


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A fraction of the athletes who have powered Coupeville Sports over the past six years.

Best part of a blog anniversary? Getting a giant cookie from your supporters.

It’s still the middle of the summer.

That was the first sentence to be published here on Coupeville Sports, way back in the Mesozoic Era, or Aug. 15, 2012, if we’re being precise.

And now, here we are, six years and 6,258 articles later.

I’ve survived being temporarily banned from the CHS press box, attacked by a South Whidbey blog which belly-flopped and floated away after publishing two whole articles, and twice flirting with bringing this whole endeavor to a premature end.

Fueled by countless tasty goodies offered up from faithful fans, transported by “the car that wouldn’t die” (until it did last week…), I endure.

And fight on, from world headquarters on the shores of Penn Cove, publishing random articles at 2 AM, while using a computer powered by three imaginary hamsters on a treadmill (Thaddeus, Leopold and Lil’ Skippy).

If you look back at the history of Coupeville Sports, it began in anger, but has (hopefully) morphed into something bigger and better over time.

I was cheesed off in Aug. 2012.

The Coupeville Examiner, where my words appeared for 15 years, through thousands of movie columns and sports stories, had just sold itself to a Canadian behemoth which already owned the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record.

Shortly after that lil’ bit of journalistic seppuku, all of my Examiner articles forever disappeared off the internet.

Having been paid very little for my freelance work (which was fine and my choice, because at the time I bought fully into the idea we were fighting the “Evil Empire”), my by-lined stories were all I had.

And then poof. They were gone, short of tracking down and buying a print copy of every back issue of The Examiner.

Whether it was a truly accidental data entry error, or an intentional, thought-out middle finger from a giant corporation, doesn’t really matter.

It was enough to goad me into launching my own news outlet, and, at least in the early days, keep me hammering away at my keyboard.

I was much chippier in the earlier days of Coupeville Sports, starting tiffs with athletes, coaches and supporters from South Whidbey, ATM and King’s, to name but a few.

Some of it was entertaining, much of it was good for fueling readership growth, but ultimately, it wasn’t the path I needed to be on.

There’s a reason other local blogs like Island Politics have vanished from the scene. If all you pump out is bile, eventually you’ll choke to death on it.

And, while Coupeville Sports was, at worst, .02% of an equal to the slimy cesspool the IP morons created in their basement/dungeon, I’ve tried to go in more of a positive, constructive direction as I (slowly) mature.

Most days, anyway…

Now we’re heading into year #7, and league #3. From the Cascade Conference to the Olympic League and now on to the North Sound Conference, at least for a bit.

Coupeville is among the smallest 1A schools in the state and there is a solid chance the Wolves will be on the move again shortly, most likely down to 2B.

For at least one year, though, it’s reunion time, as CHS links back up with former rivals South Whidbey, King’s, Granite Falls, Sultan and new foe Cedar Park Christian.

Football practice kicks off today, with all the other fall sports set to open this coming Monday. Middle school sports start soon after.

A new school year brings with it the possibility of new stars, new story-lines, new surprises.

Having gotten past a slight bump in the road recently, I am recommitted and re-energized, and, as always, deeply appreciative of my readers.

Your support, both financially and emotionally, is what drives me to keep going, documenting the ever-unfolding story of athletics on the prairie.

Coupeville Sports, from day one to wherever that finish line may be, will remain free to read. No pay wall, ever.

And while I may be the one writing the blog, it remains very much a community effort.

The more info you pass on to me, the more complete my coverage can be. If there is ever a question, “Should I tell him about…” the answer is always “Yes, you should.”

When it comes to what appears on Coupeville Sports, if you like something, say something. Maybe just as importantly, if you don’t like something, say something.

Praise or criticism, free food or angry glares, it all provides me with a compass to use as I chart our journey.

Where the path we’re blazing is going to end up, none of us know. But it should be interesting getting there.

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   The hoops legends of the ’70s reunited. Left to right, it’s Randy Keefe, Bill Jarrell and Jeff Rhubottom. (Renae Mulholland photos)

   Dale Sherman, a beast on the boards in the ’60s, and daughter Shannon, a star cheerleader in the late ’80s.

   Darrell Dyer, who operated the clock at CHS basketball games for decades, has a smile and firm handshake for all.

   Foster Faris (green jacket), a star on the hardwood in the ’70s, embraces his coach, Bob Barker.

   The current score table crew, l to r, announcer Moose Moran, Martin Mazdra and the greatest score-book operator to ever put pencil to paper – June Mazdra.

   Ryan O’Keefe (left), possibly up to shenanigans with fellow Wolf hoops alumni Rusty Bailey (center) and Keith Jameson.

L to r, returning legends Utz Conard, Denny Clark, Pat Clark and Keefe.

Dorothy Keefe (red jacket) keeps an eye on her “boys.”

There were more points in the CHS gym Friday than there are stars in heaven.

The 101-year anniversary of Wolf boys basketball brought out almost every living major scoring star of the past, outside gunners and inside bangers alike.

As hoops stars from the ’40s through 2018 mingled, Renae Mulholland, who grew up cheering for her brothers (the Keefe boys) and their friends, snapped these pics and was nice enough to share them with us.

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   Denny Clark was one of many former Wolf greats who returned Friday for the 101st anniversary of Coupeville High School basketball. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mike Bagby is ready to suit up and drop 30.

   Randy Duggan (center) catches up with his coaches, Bob Barker (left) and Craig Pedlar.

Bill Riley, born to be a star.

   Pat O’Grady, one of the stars of the 1969-1970 Wolves, still the highest-scoring team in school history.

   Jeff Rhubottom, a one-man wrecking crew in the ’70s, reunites with Coach Barker.

Barry Brown, one of the most talented Wolves to emerge from the ’60s.

   Late in his career, Coach Barker took over the CHS girls hoops job, where he coached Sherry (Bonacci) Roberts.

   As Dale Sherman (left) tells another tall tale, Kimberly (Stuurmans) Bepler (in pink) and Tami (Stuurmans) Aparicio catch up with former babysitter, and school record-holder, Jeff Stone.

Randy Keefe, forever The Man.

   Tim Quenzer, whose picture from ’69-’70 graced the cover of Friday night’s collectiable game program.

   Coach Barker informs Bill Jarrell that yes, he does still remember every basket the sweet-shooting guard scored back in the ’70s.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Friday night was a treat, watching history come to life in front of me.

As I’ve plowed through dusty newspaper archives, scrapbooks and the memories of those nice enough to put up with my questions, I have come to a greater knowledge of the history of Coupeville High School basketball.

But seeing the players and coaches of the past return for the 101st anniversary of Wolf basketball was something different.

Men who I never saw play, many of whom I had never even met before, walked into the gym and it was all suddenly very real.

The guys from the ’70s only needed a few seconds to fall back into giving each other a hard time, and you saw the teens they once were reemerge.

In a move that showed great class, the current Wolves went down the line before tip-off, shaking hands with the legends who had come back.

For a moment, Hunter Downes met Barry Brown, Mason Grove united with Randy Keefe, and the past, present and future of Wolf basketball were joined.

And then Bob Barker, a man who changed countless lives during his time as a teacher, coach and Athletic Director, entered the gym and it was as if Elvis had returned to the building.

I’ve sat through my fair share of games at CHS, in a lot of different sports, and witnessed electrifying wins and horrifying defeats.

What I witnessed Friday tops them all.

At its core, Coupeville Sports, whether through the articles or the side projects like the Wall of Fame or the basketball anniversary, is about making sure the past isn’t forgotten while the present is celebrated.

The men (and women) who have helped Wolf boys basketball endure for 101 years, deserve to be recognized, to be remembered, and to be appreciated.

A lot of people helped me pull this off, from CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith, who shocked me by saying “go knock yourself out,” to Katey Wilson, who worked magic in crafting the game program, to public address announcer Moose Moran, who took my purple prose and turned it into vocal gold.

To everyone who said yes, to everyone who showed up, to the players, coaches, managers, stat keepers, time clock operators, cheerleaders and fans, YOU are Wolf basketball.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your night.

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It was nothing but net for the Wolf boys basketball program in the ’70s.

Little padding on the bench seats? Just made you tougher.

   Wolf cheerleaders had plenty to yell about as CHS made four trips to state in “The Me Decade.”

And they danced all night long…

The horn section rocks the house.

Bring back the socks, and Coupeville goes back to state. Just sayin’.

Celebrating with Coach Bob Barker.

“Psst … unleash Hell on my command, boys.”

The ’70s ruled.

Coupeville High School has been playing boys basketball for 101 years — seriously, Friday is the anniversary — but one decade stands above the others.

The program has been to the state tourney five times, and four of those came during the 1970’s.

The Wolves reached the promised land in 1970, 1975, 1976 and 1979, then waited until 1988 to return.

Trip #6 has been a long while coming…

Scan both the best single-season scoring marks and career scoring totals for individual players, and more came in the ’70s than any other decade.

It’s not that there weren’t good CHS players and teams before “The Me Decade,” or after.

Mike Criscuola was a man among young boys by the time he was a mere 8th grader, and his numbers from the ’50s have rarely been equaled.

Newspaper stories and tales passed down from those who saw him in person describe him as the barrel-chested second coming of Paul Bunyan.

Hunter Smith, who is shooting up the career scoring chart during the 2017-2018 season, his senior year, is among the best I have covered in person.

A huge part of that is because he is the rare modern-day player who I think would have survived and thrived in previous decades.

Simply put, he “plays the game the right way,” and I think the older players who are returning to CHS tomorrow night will come away impressed with him.

As we count down the hours until Friday’s epic anniversary shindig (3:30 JV, 5:15 varsity, with festivities at halftime and post-game), it’s the ’70s we’re marinating in at the moment.

The photos above are courtesy Renae (Keefe) Mulholland and capture a slice of time when the Wolves owned the hardwood.

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