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Posts Tagged ‘Captain Cool’

Coupeville grads CJ Smith (left) and Zane Bundy are both pursuing careers in law enforcement. (Photo courtesy Charlotte Young)

Captain Cool is switching up uniforms.

Coupeville baseball legend CJ Smith, who pitched CHS to its first league title in 25 seasons during his senior campaign in 2016, is the latest former Wolf to become a first responder.

Smith has been hired by the Mercer Island Police Department.

He joins Aaron Trumbull (Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue) and Zane Bundy (Kittitas County Sheriff’s Department) as CHS grads who have made the jump to the front lines in recent months.

Smith began his new job a day after serving as the best man at Bundy’s wedding to fellow Coupeville alum Rebecca Robinson.

Captain Cool arrived on Whidbey with his family midway through his sophomore year of high school, and immediately became one of the best athletes in a Wolf uniform.

Along with younger siblings Hunter and Scout, he approached every sport the way you would expect from the offspring of two coaches.

Dad Chris Smith and mom Charlotte Young raised children who mixed natural talent with a cerebral nature.

The trio never panicked in tense situations on the field or court, had a far greater understanding of rules and strategy than most rivals, and could drop the hammer of the gods when it mattered most.

CJ was a strong football and basketball player for the Wolves, but had his best moments on the baseball diamond.

A pitcher who never betrayed a flicker of doubt on his face when on the mound, he always seemed to pitch the same with a one-run lead as with a 10-run advantage.

That serene calm helped center his teammates, and, sometimes, his coaches, with Smith reaching the mountain top April 29, 2016, when he shut down Port Townsend to clinch the Olympic League crown.

It was the first baseball title for the Wolves since 1991.

After high school graduation, Smith studied Criminal Justice and played baseball for Green River College alongside his younger brother.

Making the jump from being a starting pitcher to a relief ace, CJ stormed out of the bullpen to become Auburn’s answer to Mariano Rivera, earning accolades as a shut-down closer.

While the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled this spring’s baseball season, both Smith brothers were awarded Green River’s Campus Life Leadership Award for “outstanding leadership and achievement.”

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Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame inductees CJ (left) and Hunter Smith, with lil’ sis, and probable future inductee, Scout. (Charlotte Young photo)

Sometimes you get lucky.

Coupeville has a history of losing great athletes in their prime thanks to family moves or other matters, from Kwamane Bowens and Jessica Riddle to Joe Whitney.

But, once in awhile, Cow Town gets to wave hello and not goodbye, hitting the jackpot when Sarah, Amy and Beth Mouw suddenly showed up, or when Jordan Ford, Amanda Allmer or Linda Cheshier popped in late in their prep careers.

The single biggest payoff, though, might have come when Chris Smith and Charlotte Young moved to Whidbey in 2014.

Both are coaches, and have gone on to work with Central Whidbey athletes, Charlotte on the little league softball diamond and Chris in high school volleyball, basketball and baseball.

But it was the fact they brought their three children, CJ, Hunter, and Scout, which really sealed the deal.

In one fell swoop, Coupeville athletics got a major injection of talent, hard work and class, and it’s been a sweet ride for local fans ever since.

While Scout is already making a name for herself, playing varsity volleyball, basketball and softball last year as a CHS sophomore, her career highlights are still being crafted.

Today, we gather to honor her older brothers, who, with their days as Wolf athletes having come to a close, gain entry into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, they’ll sit up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, where they join other stellar Wolf brother combos such as James and Ian Smith (no relation) and Kyle and Tyler King.

With CJ and Hunter, there hasn’t been much doubt since day one that they would be entering these hallowed digital hallways.

They were transcendent stars from the moment they pulled on the Wolf uniform for the first time, and they exited the same way they entered, pulling off remarkable achievements while showing the composure of a Zen master.

CJ was the first to hit, joining the CHS basketball team midway through his sophomore year.

One moment there was a newcomer in street clothes on the bench, intently watching the floor like a hawk while the stands buzzed about his possible identity. The next, he was part of the fabric of Wolf Nation.

He was always a strong basketball player, quick and committed and always about team, but he also soared on the football field, a two-way terror who caught passes and broke them up with equal skill.

It was the baseball diamond where CJ wrote the most impressive chapter of his Wolf career, however.

We had him for three full seasons in his favorite sport, and Captain Cool was the go-to guy when you needed a win, an out or a strike.

Hand him the ball, as the Wolves did when they played for their first league title in 25 years in 2016, and CJ was money in the bank.

Try to scan his face at any one moment when he was on the diamond, and it was virtually impossible to know if he was 10 runs up or trailing 1-0. There was no bend in the steel in his spine, no way to ruffle him or make him sweat.

CJ had multiple games where he soared, but the title-clincher will live on in memory forever … and in the words of this story:

https://coupevillesports.com/2016/04/29/destiny-called-wolves-answered/

Hunter was in the starting lineup that day, as well, notching the first of his two league titles (he would pull his own CJ-style senior moment in 2018, pitching the Wolves past Chimacum).

It was part of maybe the most-consistent four-year run I have seen any Coupeville athlete put together.

There’s a reason the middle child landed at #1 among male athletes when I picked the best I’ve covered in the six-year run of Coupeville Sports.

Other than a couple of times when injuries forced him to the sidelines, Hunter was in the lineup and making plays every dang day he had in a Wolf uniform.

On the football field, he torched foes, hauling in passes and turning them into touchdown romps, then popping right back out to pick off a rival QB on the next set of downs.

By the time he was finished, even missing the final five games of his senior year after having his body twisted in 23 different directions while being gang-tackled at Vashon, Hunter finished with seven CHS football records, most of any Wolf gridiron star.

Put him on a basketball court, pop a ball in his hand, pray his sometimes-balky back wouldn’t conspire against him, and he was old-school magic in a new-school world.

Hunter finished #12 all-time on the Wolf boys hoops scoring list, and would have gone higher if not for his back, and his own humility, as he was never one to run the score up.

There were times, numerous times, when he curtailed his own scoring to feed a hot teammate.

If Ethan Spark was feeling it from three-point land, or Wiley Hesselgrave was poppin’ hanging jumpers, Hunter made sure they had the ball.

When I say he was old-school, like his siblings, I mean it.

Hunter played, always, like someone who grew up with coaches for parents, and, when the legends of Wolf basketball came back to the CHS gym for last year’s 101-year anniversary, you could see (and hear) their appreciation for how he played the game.

Baseball capped his career, as he smacked hits left and right, fired strikes, won a league MVP, helped lead two title-winning teams and, even the one day he got (somewhat unfairly) tossed by an ump, played the game with — and stop me if you’ve heard this before — class above all else.

That is the defining trait of CJ, Hunter, ScoutChris, and Charlotte – class.

All five have a competitive fire that rages unabated, all approach each season with a glint in their eyes and a (slight) smile on their lips.

Talent flows through their veins, yes, but without class, talent means little.

As fans, we may appreciate talent, but we respect class. And my respect for their family is off the charts.

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   CJ Smith, who pitched Coupeville to a baseball league title in 2016, is returning as a coach. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Two years after he pitched the Coupeville High School baseball team to an Olympic League title, CJ Smith is returning to the Wolf dugout, but this time as a coach.

He joins a staff headed up by his dad, CHS head baseball coach Chris Smith.

Completing the trio, CJ’s younger brother, Hunter, is a senior and the staff ace.

The hire of the younger Smith is not official until the school board approves it at its next meeting.

After his family moved to Coupeville midway through his sophomore year, CJ Smith became an immediate three-sport star for the Wolves, playing football, basketball and baseball.

Providing a template for Hunter and lil’ sis Scout, the oldest child of Chris and Charlotte combined talent with a laser focus.

While his skills were impeccable, it was his serene nature which always caught people’s eye first.

The rare pitcher who projected utter calm every time he took the mound, it was virtually impossible to tell if CJ had a 10-run lead or was trailing by 10.

Well, check that, cause he never trailed by 10…

But you get the point.

CJ’s biggest moment in a Wolf uniform came April 29, 2016, when Smith, a senior at the time, took the ball and whiffed 10 Port Townsend hitters in five innings in a 10-0 home win.

The victory clinched Coupeville’s first league title in baseball since 1991.

As CJ pulls the uniform back on, a flashback to prairie history:

https://coupevillesports.com/2016/04/29/destiny-called-wolves-answered/

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