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Lauren Marrs basks in the glow of helping her basketball team win a SWISH championship. (Emili Marrs photo)

Lauren Marrs is the type of player every coach appreciates.

She can control a game by herself, seems to have little fear on the hardwood or pitch, and is already quite-polished for an athlete headed into her freshman year of high school.

But as talented as Marrs has been while playing with middle school and select squads, it is the way she embraces being part of something bigger which truly sets her apart.

She can be a star, if that’s what you need, but she can also be part of an ensemble, if that’s what you require.

All while displaying the same passion and positive attitude, regardless of her role.

For Marrs, that just comes naturally.

“I enjoy everything about being an athlete,” she said. “I love being a part of a team.

“I just want to keep working hard and learning,” Marrs added. “I want to keep improving in all areas of the sports I play.”

In her middle school days, the younger sister of former Wolf standout Jaden Marrs played sports year-round, with volleyball, basketball (school and SWISH), and select soccer on her resume.

As she makes the jump to Coupeville High School, Lauren plans to fine-tune her focus, putting an emphasis on basketball, where she’s a deadly shooter and fluid ballhandler, and soccer, which is her burning passion.

“My favorite sport is soccer,” Marrs said. “I have been playing for 10 years, select for the last six.”

On the pitch, she’s a lock-down enforcer in net, playing goaltender for the SW Reign the past three seasons.

“I love the position I play and I would like to continue on playing it throughout high school and college,” Marrs said.

She plans to play both sports all four years of high school, and pledges, “I want us to work hard and win.”

Off the field, Marrs enjoys her health and PE classes, is a big fan of The Goonies and the Indiana Jones movies, and finds numerous ways to stay busy.

“I like to spend my time playing and watching sports,” she said. “I also like to swim, hike, play b-ball, go to the beach, and spend time with my friends and my family.”

Whether she’s knifing big, bad King’s on the hardwood, nailing a three-ball from somewhere out in the parking lot as mom Emili high-fives everyone within a five-mile radius, or pulling off a sweet shutout on the soccer pitch, Lauren keep things simple.

“I look up to my parents and listen to and respect what my coaches say.”

Sounds like a star to me.

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Quinten Simpson-Pilgrim played on the first-ever Coupeville Middle School boys soccer team. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Simpson-Pilgrim goes strong to the hoop. (Morgan White photo)

​Quinten Simpson-Pilgrim is ready to mix things up a bit.

As he heads into his freshman year at Coupeville High School, the promising young student/athlete plans to stay with one longtime favorite sport, while trying another for the first time.

Simpson-Pilgrim, following in the footsteps of older brother Jacobi, who graduated this spring, is already a veteran on the basketball court.

“Basketball is my favorite because it’s fun, and I have stuck with it throughout my whole life,” Simpson-Pilgrim said.

​”I think my strengths are stamina and my physical strength,” he added. “I’d like to work on rebounding.”

While he was a member of the first-ever Coupeville Middle School boys soccer squad this past fall, Simpson-Pilgrim has his sights set on a different sport for his high school days.

He plans to turn out for cross country, which has been bumped from September to March along with other fall sports, as the world deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Regardless of when he gets to compete, Simpson-Pilgrim plans to be ready to take full advantage of his opportunities.

“I always have something to focus on getting better at and have something to do.” he said. “My goal is to make varsity (in my sports) before my junior year.”

A big fan of his math and PE classes, Simpson-Pilgrim enjoys playing games, listening to music, and hanging out with friends when he’s not pursuing his athletic dreams.

While he strives for success, the young Wolf is quick to give credit to those who are helping him on his journey.

“The people that have the biggest impact on me are my previous (basketball) coach, Greg White, who has been my coach since 2nd grade, and my mom, because she is always a part of my team and helping plan stuff.”

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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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Zane Oldenstadt rumbles down low in the paint. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Oldenstadt and William Davidson pause for a photo op during track season. (Morgan White photo)

Zane Oldenstadt listens to his mom, and that may pay off as the world deals with a pandemic.

As Coupeville students prepare for a new school year, without knowing for sure how it will play out in the age of coronavirus, incoming freshmen have high hopes in an unsettled world.

For Oldenstadt, who plans to be a three-sport athlete at CHS, it’s a perfect time to reflect on words of wisdom from mom Michelle Glass.

“My mom’s had a huge impact in showing me how the only way things get done is through perseverance and work,” Oldenstadt said.

Whether his high school days start off in a classroom or at home in front of a computer, the outgoing 9th grader-to-be wants to make an impact in everything he does.

Oldenstadt is “very interested in marine biology, and I plan to go to college for it,” while in the arena he hopes to play football, basketball, and baseball, in whatever order the WIAA and CHS allow him to.

Being a three-sport athlete is something which comes naturally, as he played soccer and basketball, then wrapped up the school year competing in track and field during his middle school days.

He also played little league baseball.

While he enjoyed all of his sports, Oldenstadt felt most at home on the hardwood.

“Basketball, I have fun getting out there and battling on the court,” he said. “It’s a sport I never tire of, and I’m always ready to go and give it my all.”

As he makes the transition from CMS to CHS, Oldenstadt already has the height and strength to set him apart from other athletes his own age.

But he also realizes he needs to add other components to his game if he wants to be successful at a higher level.

“I think my athleticism at my size really stands out,” Oldenstadt said. “But I’d still like to work on overall quickness.

“My goal in high school sports is to better myself and the teams I play on through hard work and commitment.”

When he’s not playing sports, Oldenstadt enjoys listening to music.

In an uncertain world, though, athletic activity is key to his happiness.

“Sports helps me cope with stress or anything else that’s bothering me,” he said. “It’s nice just to go and focus all your energy on trying to win something.”

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Tia Wurzrainer: three sports, 1000% effort. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Numbers don’t always tell the full story.

And that’s why, to fully appreciate what Tia Wurzrainer brought to Coupeville High School athletics the past four years, you needed to see her play in person.

From a distance, she didn’t score a staggering amount of goals on the soccer field, and didn’t net a record-busting number of baskets on the hardwood.

But watch Tia play in person, whether it was soccer, basketball, or tennis season, and you would quickly gain an appreciation of why she was so valued by coaches, and so beloved by her teammates.

The young girl who once sat quietly eating her sandwich back in a corner at her family’s restaurant, Christopher’s on Whidbey, emerged as one of the hardest-working, far-tougher-than-expected athletes to ever pull on a Wolf jersey.

Tia did the dirty work, and then asked for more, always with a smile.

On the soccer field, she sacrificed her body game after game, a defender who seemingly feared no scoring ace, and wasn’t gonna take no crap from no one, no matter how fancy the rival school might be.

She protected her side of the field with a burning intensity, slamming into frays, chasing down breakaways, fighting for every 50/50 ball, making life considerably easier for the CHS goalkeepers who camped out behind her.

Give her a chance to score, and she could, but Tia made her name holding down the backline, where she netted All-Conference honors and earned mad respect from anyone foolish enough to challenge her.

As fall faded into winter, she would move from the pitch to the basketball court, but her persona as a quietly tough-as-nails roustabout never changed.

Tia slices to the hoop for a bucket in a big win over arch-rival South Whidbey.

The kind of “glue” player every coach needs, she was that rare teen athlete who not only accepted her role, but openly embraced it.

Need a lock-down defender?

A hustler and a scrapper?

A pass-first player who could help keep her team flowing under big-time pressure?

A staunch supporter of each and every one of her teammates?

Tia was the answer for all those needs, and she always seemed to play with the same intensity and effort regardless of whether she was starting or coming off the bench.

Proving she was a true three-sport star, she never skipped a season, joining Avalon Renninger to form a deadly doubles duo on the tennis court each spring.

Always a deadly assassin on the tennis court.

The pair meshed almost flawlessly, both in playing style, and with the grace and drive they exhibited match after match.

Team leaders, captains, and stellar competitors, the duo were on the fast track to make it to the state tourney, only to see their senior season derailed by COVID-19.

While Tia and Avalon didn’t get the chance to make a run at glory in Eastern Washington, that shouldn’t detract in the slightest from what they accomplished when given a chance to play.

While reflecting on their net careers, CHS tennis guru Ken Stange marveled at what Wurzrainer had brought to his program.

Tia … calm, cool, and collected.

“She would probably argue with me, but I think Tia is perfect.

“Kind, intelligent, intuitive, and hard working. I don’t think I ever heard a single negative word pass through her lips.

“Her work ethic was second to none. Anyone would be happy to have her as a partner, me included.”

Some athletes get a chance to put up big numbers, making it easy for people in far-off states or other countries to have at least a loose idea of what they accomplished.

But it’s those like Tia, the ones you need to be camped out in the bleachers, or on the bench, or out there on the floor with her, to really appreciate, who make an impact which can’t be matched.

If you know, you know.

And, if you don’t know, you really, truly missed out.

Today, we swing open the doors at the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and welcome Tia to our hallowed digital hideaway, where she is reunited with Avalon, her tennis doubles partner.

After this, you’ll find them at the top of the blog, hanging out under the Legends tab.

All in all, a very appropriate choice of words to describe two of the best, as athletes and as people, to ever emerge from Coupeville.

Wurzrainer and Renninger? They were kind of a big deal.

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