Posts Tagged ‘CJ Smith’

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:


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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   It’s Opening Day, but James Vidoni already has the beard in mid-season form. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wolf catcher Gavin Knoblich swaps baseballs (and small talk) with the ump.

Coupeville players hang out in the (surprising) sunshine.

Julian Welling awaits the throw at first.

CJ Smith, a roiling cauldron of emotion.

Shane Losey eyes his next victim.

Nick Etzell goes low to snag a hot grounder.

Opening Day went off without a hitch.

Astonishingly nice weather on the prairie, a big win for Coupeville High School baseball over highly-regarded Lynden Christian, and plenty of glossy pics.

To see everything John Fisken snapped (varsity and JV), pop over to:


When you land there, remember, any purchases help fund college scholarships for CHS student/athletes.

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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:


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CJ Smith, a man for all seasons. (John Fisken, Shelli Trumbull and Sylvia Hurlburt photos)

   CJ Smith, a man for all seasons. (John Fisken, Shelli Trumbull, Charlotte Young and Sylvia Hurlburt photos)

Big things sometimes start quietly.

The first time I saw CJ Smith, he suddenly appeared, perched at the end of the Coupeville High School boys’ basketball bench one night, a couple of games into the 2013-2014 season.

Someone in the stands, a fellow player’s dad, said he had just transferred into the school, but no one knew much about him.

As the game went on, CJ (we didn’t even know his name that night) watched the court like a hawk, once in awhile murmuring a question or two to the guy next to him, then nodding, face impassive.

Little did we know at that moment, cloaked in stoic quietness, that we were seeing the birth of one of the best athletes to ever wear the red and black.

Later, we discovered he was a sophomore, and we wouldn’t see him in a game for close to two weeks, as he got up to speed on practices.

When he finally touched the court, wearing a Coupeville uniform for the first time, he didn’t come out screaming, or wildly waving.

He played calmly, coolly, under control, making sharp passes and even sharper cuts.

Captain Cool had arrived, and, for the next two-and-a-half years we got to witness a young man who handles his business as strongly as any Wolf I have witnessed.

CJ, who celebrates a birthday today and graduated from CHS last month, gave us two strong basketball seasons (he sat out his senior season to focus on schoolwork), two superb football campaigns and three dazzling baseball years.

Through it all, he was the picture of composure, a guy who didn’t seem to ever have a butterfly and never, ever flinched away from the big moment.

If he was nervous, if he had self-doubt, CJ hid it well from the fans.

When he was on the mound, whiffing hitters in great gobs, it was nearly impossible to tell if he was up 20-0 or trailing 1-0.

And that calmness, his sense of purpose, always seemed to settle his teammates down around him.

Which was especially helpful during his senior season, when most of his teammates were freshmen and sophomores.

Teaming with senior catcher Cole Payne and his brother, sophomore Hunter Smith, CJ led Coupeville to its first baseball league title in 25 years.

During that run there were many moments when the team could have fallen apart, but it didn’t, thanks in large part to its easygoing mound ace.

That serene spirit flows through CJ’s entire family.

Turns out we got a 5-for-1 deal, with CJ, Hunter and lil’ sis Scout all three-sport stars, while mom Charlotte and dad Chris are superb coaches.

As his prep career played out, Captain Cool was a rock for the Wolves, a talented athlete, but, more importantly, a quality dude through and through.

So happy birthday CJ, and thanks for letting us all be part of the ride for the last three years.

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Julian Welling delivers the high, hard cheese. (John Fisken photos)

Julian Welling delivers the high, hard cheese. (John Fisken photos)


   Wolf JV coach/master motivator Chris Smith (red top) tells his team, “No McDonald’s unless you win.”

The school year is over, but the slide shows continue to pop up.

Following on the footsteps of the very popular track season spectacular, CHS baseball moms have put together their own clip show to honor the 2016 Wolf diamond squad.

Set to the music of John Fogerty and Trace Adkins, it documents Coupeville’s rise to the top of the 1A Olympic League, in a concise five-minute burst of images.

Check it out:

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