Posts Tagged ‘coach chatter’

Steve Hilborn has been tabbed as Coupeville High School’s new head baseball coach. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Steve Hilborn is stepping up.

After several seasons as an assistant coach at Coupeville High School, plus a stint with the local Babe Ruth program, Matt and Scott’s dad is the new Wolf head baseball coach.

His hiring is on the agenda for Monday’s school board meeting.

The elder Hilborn follows in the footsteps of Will Thayer, who led the CHS hardball program for two seasons before moving to Las Vegas.

Hilborn inherits a team coming off of a Northwest 2B/1B League title.

While the Wolves lost a strong group of seniors to graduation, key returners should include Scott Hilborn, Jonathan Valenzuela, Chase Anderson, Peyton Caveness, and Cole White, among others.

Baseball gets back to action with the start of practice the final week of Feb. 2023.

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Amy King first coached Makana Stone in middle school volleyball. “She was all about team and doing her best, even then.” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mckenzie Meyer (front) played many sports, but unfortunately never landed on a high school team coached by King.

I’ve worked with a lot of coaches, but found only one thinking of doing a post-game write-up in poetry form.

Amy King, who has worked with the Wolf volleyball, softball and basketball programs, could be doing a bang-up job writing her own blog.

You know, if she wasn’t already busy with coaching, her real-world job, family life and the million other things she accomplishes while I’m still trying to wake up.

On the road or at home, win or loss, she always delivers crisp info, filled with insight, and this time is no different.

Coupeville’s third-longest tenured coach (trailing just Randy King and Ken Stange), she arrives today to break down the best Wolf players she’s worked with.

So, let me step away and give her the floor.

Aside from being a little busy, I’ve been mulling things over in my head – so many players!

Plus it’s tough coming in from the JV side of things too – many of my people and thoughts matched (husband) David’s.

Best player I’ve coached is, of course, Makana Stone. I echo everything David said about her.

Of course my first experience was the one year she played 8th grade volleyball.

She and Miranda Engle went to camp and when she hit the floor it was all so natural that it was like she had played her whole life.

Great attitude and all about team and doing her best even then.

Which athlete do I wish I could have coached? This is a tough one; I’m thinking McKenzie Meyer.

She ended up being our manager in middle school volleyball, but helped out when we had odd numbers.

She studied what was being shown and just came out and performed during practices. She is very athletic and had better skills than some of the girls who were out there playing.

When it came to high school I had high hopes she would join a team I was coaching.

Most underrated athlete I’ve coached – I have two on this one.

A lot of this comes from who you are playing with — you have those athletes like Lexie or Brittany Black, who stand out, so others are important to the success of a team, but did not always get the glory.

These two didn’t really care about the glory though.

Shawna West and Vanessa Davis are my two.

Both were posts and played hard. They worked hard and were no-nonsense types of players.

Shawna was our original bull in the china shop player. She rarely talked off the court, but her game said it all.

Vanessa was the same; stronger than she might have looked, shy and didn’t talk a whole lot, but without her game, the team would not have gone as far as they did.

Characteristics/intangibles/commitment is by far the easiest question, answered the same as my husband –Breeanna Messner.

She was in the first group of kids I coached in Coupeville, 7th grade volleyball.

Coached her since then in multiple sports, it was all the same. Dedication, hard working, great attitude and the kind of athlete any coach would be happy to have on their team.

Regardless of the sport or who was coaching; she would change positions without question; play where needed.

She was involved in all off-season functions she could participate in and always helped pick up gear; set up gear and never brought or fed into drama.

She had that no-quit attitude, fight and desire in everything she did.

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Kacie Kiel “always made us better when she was on the court.” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Breeanna Messner “was so much more than an athlete.” (Shelli Trumbull photo)

In the six years of Coupeville Sports, David King has helped set the gold standard.

Whether coaching softball or girls basketball, or discussing other sports from the sidelines, he remains one of the best go-to guys for a quote, a hot take, or well-reasoned analysis.

I hyperventilate, while he sits there, cool as a cucumber, small smile on his face, and tells me how things really work in the prep sports world.

Now, he’s here to join in on our continuing series of articles in which CHS coaches, past and present, discuss the best players they’ve worked with.

So, away we go.


Who is the best female athlete you coached at CHS?

Makana Stone.

She not only is the most gifted athlete I’ve ever coached, she is as humble and team-oriented as they come. Willing to help any and all teammates and encouraging them every step of the way.

Makana is a player that didn’t settle for good enough; she pushed herself to be great. Her work ethic is second to none.

She chose basketball to play in college and has flourished. But I believe she could have gone to college and played soccer, volleyball or ran track.

Not many athletes have that kind of talent.


Who is the best male athlete you coached at CHS?

Jordan Wilcox.

I was a volunteer high school baseball coach and also coached him in little league. I also had the opportunity to help some with basketball before high school.

A natural athlete that made the hardest plays look easy.

Jordan put in the time during the off-season and throughout the season. A great sense of humor that kept practices light, but still worked hard.

Jordan had that killer instinct that he would tap into when he had an opponent down.


What CHS athlete that you did NOT coach, do you wish you could have?

Grace LaPoint and Lauren Bayne.

I coached Grace in basketball, but not in softball.

During Grace’s senior year, I became a co-coach for softball, however Grace decided to hang up her softball cleats and pursued track.

A speedster and a very smart athlete.

I was disappointed when she told us she was going to track over softball. It would have been great to have her patrolling the outfield and creating havoc on the bases.

Lauren it seems is one of the few athletes I didn’t coach between basketball and softball.

I tried to convince her for four years to give basketball a try.

After seeing the type of athlete she was and seeing it first hand when she played middle school basketball, I felt like she could have been a major contributor to the basketball program.


Who is the most underrated CHS athlete you coached?

Kacie Kiel.

Anything I threw at Kacie regarding basketball she always accepted the challenge. A great attitude and selfless.

She may not have had the highest stats from game to game, however she was a complete player.

She could handle the ball, play the wing and knock down open shots. Rebound against taller and bigger players and she was a lock-down defender.

A player that I trusted on the court and one that always made us better when she was on the court.


Thinking about character/intangibles/commitment, what CHS athlete you coached would be the one you want young kids to emulate?

Breeanna Messner.

Breeanna is so much more than an athlete. Plain and simple, she is a great human being!

Her character is off the charts. It’s all on her along with her very supportive family.

Breeanna has a genuine caring heart that she is willing to share with everyone she comes in contact with.

The intangibles she brought to the teams she played on helped each team have the success they did.

She played point guard and was like a coach on the floor.

She was a catcher and her willingness to learn and grow as a leader was what brought her respect.

Breeanna would put in 100% effort at every practice, then on many occasions would ask to stay late to work on her skills in both basketball and softball.

She never thought she was “owed” a position or a starting spot. She earned it based on her commitment to help the team no matter what and her actual skills she possessed.

I was lucky enough to get to coach her in basketball and softball in high school and a year each in youth sports.

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In a poll of CHS coaches, former lineman Brenden Gilbert received props. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Ashlie Shank was hailed for her work ethic on the track oval.

I have opinions, but they’re just that – opinions.

It’s easy for those of us in the stands to spout our thoughts on high school athletics, but, if you want a deeper appraisal, it’s time to turn to the coaches.

The men and women who run Coupeville programs, or have in the past, tend to understand their sports on a deeper basis than your friendly neighborhood idiot blogger.

While I am easily swayed by emotion, coaches deal with cold, hard facts and often have a different view of their athletes than we might.

The coaches see who actually commit in practice, who puts in work on the side, how they deal with fellow athletes, how they handle the highs and lows away from the spotlight.

With that in mind, I reached out to a bunch of active and former CHS coaches, asking them to reveal their picks on several subjects.

Who are the best athletes they’ve worked with? Who did they wish they could have coached? Who wins their approval for most underrated or top role model?

A few brave souls answered, and we’ll look at their responses in a five-part series starting today.


Dan d’Almeida

(Former CHS head girls soccer coach):

In my opinion the top five from girls soccer in my generation were Anna Bailey, Cassidi Rosenkrance, Amanda d’Almeida, Ashley Manker, and Caitlin Phillips.

The first four were all four-year varsity starters when I was coaching, the fifth was a four-year player I only coached her senior year.

So their overall commitment to the program first and foremost. All were captains for at least one season and they also were competing when we were in the very tough Cascade Conference.

Ashley Manker I wanted to especially point out, because it was her goalkeeper training that was the genesis of Coach (Gary) Manker’s “system” that was used for many years with both boys and girls.

She was his guinea pig and did so well considering he was still developing it and there is always the father/daughter dynamic that could be an issue!


Anonymous Coach #1

(Former HS assistant/MS head coach, worked with girls and boys):

Best female athlete, tough one, but I would say Lindsey Roberts.

A young talent whose bloodline runs deep in Coupeville and she lives up to her family’s legacy. An athlete who always wanted to be the best and she has grown so much and is out there dominating every sport

Best male athlete is another very tough choice, but I will have to say Josh Bayne.

A kid with natural talent and he was never a selfish kid. Never wanted to be the one who wanted stats and glory.

He loved the game and loved being out there with his brothers and had so much pride for Coupeville.

Most underrated athlete, there have been a lot of great athletes, but I have two in mind, Joel Walstad and Brenden Gilbert.

Joel did something you don’t really see. He decided to play QB towards the end of his junior year and never saw varsity time until he became a senior, and man, he did not disappoint.

To have never really played QB at all and to take on that role as a senior, he went in knowing he was the leader and knew he had to work harder than anyone else.

He set a season record (for TD passes), you don’t ever see that; he definitely was someone I was proud to see excel.

Brenden had great mentors in Carson (Risner) and Nick (Streubel) and Brenden really took on the mantel as being our guy on the line his senior year and really excelled.

Role model? Hands down Nick Streubel.

He proved that with hard work, excel in the classroom and play with everything you got on the field, you can do anything and you can make your dreams happen.

We have never really had anyone succeed in football at the next level as much as Nick has at Central.

He helped carry Coupeville and he is the anchor in that line in Central.

But he is also very humble, prideful in where he came from, respectful to members of the community, his peers and his coaches.

He also knows how to live his life still but manages all his time to never give up on his goals.

Another athlete I would say is Valen Trujillo.

She was always about her team and always pushed them to be better.

She was a leader in the weight room and took time away from her workouts to help everyone else. Took time to teach young athletes and always cheered them on and encouraged her fellow athletes.

She dominated every sport she did and she was very respectful to all who she faced and was very thankful for everyone coming to the games. Never would you ever see her not smile.

She always pushed herself to be better and the records show for it.


Ken Stange

(Entering 14th year, and 27th season, as CHS tennis coach):

I’ll start with which CHS athletes I wished I could’ve coached – James Smith and Sarah Wright.

Like everyone in his family, James was a gifted athlete. He was smart, aggressive, and confident.

Sadly for the tennis team, he was a talented football player.

He was good friends with Connor Tasoff, my resident tennis junkie at the time, and they played quite a bit.

Connor was my top guy at the time, and James consistently made Connor work hard.

I would joke with James that he should quit football and join the tennis team. He said he wished there were a fourth sport season so he could play tennis.

As a student in my 8th grade English class, Sarah was smart, assertive, and thoughtful.

As an athlete, she’s smart, aggressive, and team-oriented, not to mention universally-beloved.

Her cousins Megan and Brooke (Monroe) played for me and her sister, Genna (Wright), just finished a strong 9th grade season for me.

I just know that if Sarah wasn’t busy kicking butt on the softball diamond, she’d be a lights-out tennis player.

As for the most underrated, I have to go with a doubles team and John McClarin and Joseph Wedekind are an easy pick there.

With all due respect, those two guys did not look like eventual Olympic League doubles champs when they showed up as freshmen.

But once they got a taste of the game, they worked their tails off 12 months a year for the rest of their CHS tennis days.

To go from near the bottom of the JV ladder as freshmen to league champs as seniors is quite an accomplishment.

What’s more, they were basically assistant coaches to the girls’ team, because that was the only way they could get court time during the girls’ season.

When I think of which athlete I would want kids to emulate, I struggle to come up with one name. 26 seasons have given me a long list of choices.

What I do think of are team leaders I’ve had. I think of the ones who inspired and instilled the kind of tennis culture that is both fun and competitive.

I think of leaders like Connor Tasoff, Ben Etzell and Aaron Curtin, John McClarin and Joseph Wedekind, and William Nelson and Joey Lippo.

I think of Hannah Merrell and Megan Monroe, Jordan Akins and Jessica Blanchette, Amanda d’Almeida, Valen Trujillo and Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger.

Those people? I’d be happy to have my kids emulate any and all of them!


Anonymous Coach #2

(Current assistant with a spring program):

The athlete I wish I could coach? This one is easy, Scout Smith.

Even though she doesn’t participate in my sport, she is an amazing athlete who is overall an amazing person.

She plays with a competitive spirit, yet she also strives to always better herself and her teammates. She plays with an intensity that is electric and one that would have been so great to have in track.

She is an essential player in any sport that I’ve seen her in and it would have been a joy and an honor to coach her.

I feel that Ashlie Shank is the most underrated athlete that I coached.

This girl was a sleeper and for some reason it seemed that no one expected much from her, but she expected so much from herself and worked so hard to get to where she was before she left.

She was very consistent in her times and she continued to bring them down by working hard, harder than some of the best athletes on the team.

She was essential to her relays and amazing on her own. She knew how to push herself and find new limits every day.

I wish she could have stayed so I could’ve seen her senior season but I wish her the best for her senior year.

Although I coached many amazing young athletes, the athlete that I would want young kids to emulate would be Jean Lund-Olsen.

This kid is amazing all around.

He is humble, a hard worker, he listens to and respects his coaches, he is respected, he listens to his body and knows when he needs to heal (admittedly sometimes he needs to be reminded of that), he respects the sports that he participates in, the list goes on.

This athlete is one that is hard to find, and I believe that many young athletes should strive to follow his lead.


Return Wednesday for Part 2 of our five-part series, as Ken Stange looks back at 13 seasons and picks his ultimate boys tennis lineup.

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