Posts Tagged ‘Chris Smith’

Chris Smith, always exuding a quiet confidence. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Jack of all trades, and also a master of all of them.

In his time at Coupeville High School, Chris Smith brought professionalism, superb teaching skills, and enough energy and spirit to light up a town on his own.

Not content to just take one job and be good at that, the father of three stepped into the thick of things, bouncing from season to season, always in uniform and always on point.

When he left us in the spring, Smith was the head varsity baseball coach at CHS, as well as being in charge of both the Wolf JV boys basketball and JV volleyball programs.

While it’s understandable we’ve lost him, in person at least, with the real world pulling him away from Whidbey after the graduation of his youngest child, his memory will live on for a long time.

Over the years, I have worked with a lot of coaches, some great, a few far less so, and Smith easily lands in the top tier.

He brought an energy and excitement to everything he did which carried over to the young women and men he coached, and it genuinely seemed to inspire many of them.

“Get on the bag, son, and stop givin’ me angina!”

There were big wins, and a few tough losses — coaching will always give you both — and Smith reacted, in public at least, as if both were the same.

When his squads pulled off victories, whether by rout or hard-fought comeback, he was quick to spread the love. Both to his players, and to his fellow coaches.

It was his steady hand and calm, but fiery, nature, which centered his team, but rarely does a squad win or lose because of just one person, and Smith knew that.

He was not a screamer, but he could, and did, get his athletes bouncing off the walls when needed.

And, just as often, he was that calm voice in the wilderness, reaching out to comfort and pick someone up at their lowest.

Smith is a people person, and also very adept at reading each individual he came into contact with, and adapting his approach to fit what will work best to maximize their response.

It’s what separates a decent coach from a great one, and I firmly believe he lands in the latter category.

Hanging out with Kory Score on Senior Night.

What is also unique about Smith is his ability to coach both boys and girls sports teams, subtly shifting his approach to fit whatever the situation might be.

In each sport, he brought out the best in his players, helping some of them to soar way past their abilities, and giving others hope.

That hope came because Smith was relentless in preaching a positive mind-set.

He wasn’t rah-rah just to be rah-rah.

Confidence, in himself and in his athletes, flowed out of Smith like water, and he always had a warm word or a grin and a quick joke for everyone around him.

Passing on wisdom to Hawthorne Wolfe.

Sports teams often take on the attitudes of their coaches, which meant his squads played with passion, but also with a quiet confidence.

Several of those Wolf teams had major comebacks, pulling out wins from contests which seemed to be well out of hand in the early going.

Smith didn’t need to scream, or throw clipboards, or wing a chair across the gym, Bobby Knight-style, to get the attention of his players.

He showed his young charges respect, asked for it back, and inspired them to reach great heights in a calm, reassured manner.

And then, without fail, he always sent stats and quotes to the ink-stained wretches in the press, or stopped to talk to us, giving of his time in a way which made you believe that was what mattered most to him in the moment.

Even if he was probably dog-tired and dreaming of dinner and some quiet time.

Smith (with big assistance from their mother Charlotte) gave Coupeville three of the most-talented athletes our town has seen in recent decades — sons CJ and Hunter and daughter Scout.

But then Chris also gave us his time, his expertise, and his conviction, playing a key role in building each of the Wolf programs he helped lead.

We’ll miss him, but wish him the best as he pursues new goals off-Island.

A piece of Smith will always be here in Coupeville, however.

It will show through each time one of his athletes has a big moment, finds something inside themselves they didn’t realize they had, and achieves greatness in life.

And he will also live on through this blog, since, after this, he’ll join his children up at the top of the page under the Legends tab.

The newest member of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, he exits the way he entered — a winner every step of the way.

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Chris Smith’s departure this spring opened up three CHS coaching jobs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Looking for a job? Maybe the coaching life is for you.

Coupeville schools currently list five open positions on the district web site, with three being varsity high school head coaching gigs.

Wolf Athletic Director Willie Smith needs to tab new leaders for the CHS baseball, boys soccer, and cross country programs, while also hiring a middle school volleyball coach and a boys high school JV basketball coach.

The baseball and JV basketball positions came open when jack of all trades Chris Smith left Whidbey in the spring.

He had also coached high school JV volleyball, though former Wolf player Ashley Menges has been offered that position.

Her hire has not been officially approved by the school board, however, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shut down all athletic contests since February.

The cross country job opened when Wolf coach Luke Samford and his wife, Hayley, moved to Kansas in May.

Erin Locke accepted a new job in Bremerton around the same time period, opening the middle school volleyball job, while the high school soccer coaching position came open thanks to a quirk.

With CHS dropping from 1A to 2B and returning to its old-school stomping grounds, the Northwest 2B/1B League, the Wolves will play boys and girls soccer during the same season.

Kyle Nelson previously led both programs, but decided to step away from the boys job to focus on the girls team.


To apply for a job, pop over to:


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Xavier Murdy, who is dealing with an elbow fracture, leads off a group of CHS boys basketball pics. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wolf varsity coach Brad Sherman

Dominic Coffman

The JV: (back, l to r) Grady Rickner, Cody Roberts, Sage Downes, TJ Rickner, Daniel Olson, Logan Martin. Front: Xavier Murdy, Miles Davidson, Alex Jimenez, Alex Murdy, Andrew Aparicio.

Ulrik Wells

JV hoops guru Chris Smith

Alex Jimenez

The varsity: (back, l to r) Sean Toomey-Stout, Gavin Knoblich, Wells, Koa Davison, Jacobi Pilgrim, Xavier Murdy. Front: Tucker Hall, Hawthorne Wolfe, Jered Brown, Jean Lund-Olsen, Mason Grove.

Closer and closer.

The tip-off of the high school hoops season draws ever nearer, as Coupeville players enter week two of practice.

The Wolf boys had their picture day Monday, and you can see a portion of what John Fisken shot.

Tuesday the camera swings towards the CHS girls, with a jamboree set for Saturday in Sedro-Woolley.

After that comes opening week, with the Wolves set to play three games in five days.

Coupeville travels to Darrington Dec. 3, makes the short jaunt to Oak Harbor the next day, then welcomes Orcas Island to town for the home openers Dec. 7.

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Four-year starter Matt Hilborn is one of five returning letter winners for Coupeville High School baseball. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Wolves enjoy rare blue skies as they prep for their season opener.

Let’s shake things up.

Coupeville High School baseball soared through much of the 2018 season, winning its second Olympic League title in three years and falling a single win shy of advancing to the state tourney.

Jump forward to this spring, and many things have changed for third-year head coach Chris Smith.

He needs to replace an especially strong group of seniors from last year’s 15-6 squad, having lost eight to graduation, including league MVP Hunter Smith.

And, while doing so, the Wolves are bouncing into the new North Sound Conference, a league headed up by Cedar Park Christian, which has finished 2nd and 4th at state the past two seasons.

After playing a scattershot schedule during their four-year run in the Olympic League, Coupeville returns to a more traditional schedule in their new surroundings.

Much like the Wolves did in their old stomping grounds in the Cascade Conference, NSC teams will play three-game series in a single week.

Instead of a game here, a game a month later, and then a final match-up sometime after that, the new league operates with a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule.

So, when the Wolves open their league schedule, against the aforementioned CPC, they’ll go to Bothell Monday, host the Eagles Wednesday, then travel back to Bothell Friday.

The new schedule more closely replicates what college and pro teams play, while giving coaches more of a chance to use strategy as they set up their pitching and adjust to changes as each week plays out.

While he won’t have his son ready to take the mound this year, Smith can lean on a pair of veteran hurlers.

Seniors Matt Hilborn and Dane Lucero top the mound rotation, and are joined by three other returning lettermen, seniors Jake Pease and Shane Losey and junior Gavin Knoblich.

“All are expected to start this year and make a strong impact,” Smith said. “We have strong returning pitching and a strong senior core, but we will be a very young team.”

Among the younger players expected to play key roles include juniors Ulrik Wells and Mason Grove, sophomore Daniel Olson, who got the strikeout to clinch last year’s league title, and freshman Hawthorne Wolfe.

The roster will lean towards players making their varsity debuts this time around.

“(There are) some other up and coming players that will definitely have the opportunity to help out when called upon,” Smith said.

While his team may not be the most-experienced, the eternally-upbeat Wolf coach is aiming for success, as always.

With the season opener at home Mar. 12, against non-conference foe Friday Harbor, Smith is rarin’ to get going.

“Our number one goal is to make a run at the league title; our number two goal is to qualify for the state tournament,” he said.

“It will be a successful season if we play good baseball, and maintain a high level of motivation, energy and effort regardless of the outcome.”

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Coupeville High School baseball coach Chris Smith with the first of eight seniors, Joey Lippo. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Julian Welling

Hunter Smith

James Vidoni

Jacob Zettle

Jake Hoagland

Nick Etzell

Kyle Rockwell

If you thought we were done with baseball, you were wrong.

When Senior Night went down two weeks back, I ran portraits of all eight Wolves who are moving on, but neglected to showcase pics that each player took with CHS coach Chris Smith.

So, here ya go.

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