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Tacoma’s Venajah Woods (left) and Coupeville grad Raechel Kundert have earned internships with the Japanese Cultural Community Center of Washington in Seattle. (Photo property of JCCCW)

Raechel Kundert is a bright, shining star.

The Coupeville High School grad is a senior at the University of Washington, where she carries a triple major.

You read that right, as Kundert is studying Linguistics, Japanese, and Asian Languages and Cultures.

Which shouldn’t leave the former Wolf much free time.

But Kundert will carve out a chunk of her schedule to accept a new honor, having been tabbed for a winter Ganbaru internship with the Japanese Cultural Community Center of Washington.

She’ll join Venajah Woods, a Psychology major from Tacoma, in working as a Social Media and Marketing intern for the JCCCW.

Ganbaru translates to “give one’s best effort,” and interns work on cultural and historical programs, annual events, and office operations.

Kundert, who was a talented musician and football player during her time in Coupeville, grew up on Whidbey Island and became interested in Japanese culture at a young age.

A big fan of the country’s pop culture, she also studied karate in elementary school.

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Scott Fox and other CHS coaches are adapting to changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Coaches like to control things.

It’s how they set their teams up for success, both in the short term and long term.

So life in the time of coronavirus has to be especially frustrating for the men and women who work the sidelines at Coupeville High School, since so much control has been taken out of their hands.

While spring sports were outright cancelled during the first surge of COVID-19, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has been working hard to find a way to keep prep sports alive when the 2020-2021 school year begins.

Tuesday, the WIAA Executive Board released a plan in which the state would go from a standard three-season athletic calendar to one which in the year would be chopped into four parts.

If the plan holds, football, volleyball, and soccer move from fall to March, where they might be joined by cross country and boys tennis, if those “low-risk” sports are unable to play in September.

Basketball stays in the winter, and spring sports such as track and field, softball, baseball, and girls tennis hope to return along with the sun.

You can read more about the plan here:

https://coupevillesports.com/2020/07/21/wiaa-tries-to-keep-school-sports-alive/

But, as WIAA officials admit, “everything is written in pencil” as the country deals with a pandemic which has claimed almost 150,000 lives in the United States, including 1,500 in Washington state.

Having had a few days to consider the new (possible) reality, Wolf coaches share their thoughts with us:

 

Marcus Carr (Football):

We expected this to happen. I am happy that it was moved to the spring and not canceled.

Would have hated for our seniors not to be able to play.

Hopefully things will be to a point where we can also have fans in the stands.

With the amount of hard work athletes put into practicing and getting better it would be a shame for them to compete with no one there to cheer them on.

We may have to wait a little longer but at least we know that a season is possible.

 

Scott Fox (Girls Basketball):

We still have a long way to go, but I’m excited that we have a plan in place to shoot for, no pun intended! 

This modified season will be a welcome breath of fresh air for everybody.

We are used to playing in the winter so basketball isn’t as affected as the other sports; we just have to realize that everybody is in the same situation that we are in.

It will be nice to have Thanksgiving and Christmas off, then ramp up for basketball.

I told the kids that if we are the first sport out of the gate, let’s set the tone in our new league about Coupeville sports.

We’ll be ready!

 

Kyle Nelson (Girls Soccer):

I appreciate that WIAA is getting creative to try and give everyone an opportunity to play this year.

Plus, I am familiar with soccer in the spring.

Just excited for a chance to play in our new league, even if I have to wait a bit longer.

 

Brad Sherman (Boys Basketball):

I’m grateful for the WIAA effort to make this work given the circumstances.

Certainly I really feel for our guys (and all of our CHS athletes).

None of this is easy. And I don’t think many realize how much these kids are giving up.

But I think the message has to be: We can spend our time being frustrated over things we can’t control, or we can focus on the things we can.

The date and structure of our season changed. But at the end of the day, it’s a date.

What hasn’t changed is how hard our boys worked this summer.

It hasn’t changed the big goals they set for themselves this season. It hasn’t changed how much they love the game.

We (coaches and players) just have a little more time to prepare for the season.

I’m proud of our guys and how they’ve responded to the adversity, and the work so many of them chose to put in this summer.

I have no doubt this group will be ready to go whenever that date comes, and it’s deemed safe for athletes to return to play.

In June some of our guys, from various grade levels, met and were asked to develop a motto that would be unique to the 2020-21 team.

It just needed to fit them, align with team values, and align with their goals.

And after a while they came back to the coaches with: “Nothing for Granted.”

Pretty profound if you ask me.

Team camp cancelled. Tournament cancelled. Retreat cancelled. Practices highly regulated. And a season in limbo.

And the message/mantra they decide on as a group is one of gratitude. Pretty awesome.

So while a season delay is tough, I certainly think our guys are in the right mindset to tackle the challenge head-on.

 

Cory Whitmore (Volleyball):

What odd times we live in and no doubt there will be more curveballs thrown our way (had to throw in a sport analogy).

I guess my thinking is that there is a lot to be grateful for in light of this new information from the WIAA concerning the change in seasons.

Sure, these adjustments make for some serious changes in our normal routines and future plans, but I’m very thankful that we have the tentative plan of actually having a season.

We can be thankful that fall sports have been adjusted instead of cancelled outright, as our spring 2020 athletic programs experienced. 

My heart goes out to all of the 2020 spring sport athletes, families, coaches and community members that were so looking forward to participating.

I’m cautiously hopeful that things will have improved greatly by the time our “Covid-season” rolls around in 2021 and we can get safely back to offering sports and activities for our Coupeville youth.

In the meantime, I’m going to try and focus on those things to be grateful for and encourage our team to try and do the same.

Knowing how important it is to keep kids active and social, we will definitely get creative to provide that within the safety of regulations.

It’s definitely hard to always “look on the bright side,” but I guess what else is there to do but be hopeful, grateful and take care of each other?

No doubt these kids and this community will bounce back.

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The Sad Coyote compels you.

Coupeville students (of any age), parents, teachers, coaches:

If you’re looking for things to occupy you during the six-week school shutdown, I have an offer.

Write something. ANYTHING.

Sports or non-sports. Doesn’t matter.

Buff and polish every word, or just drop some random thoughts.

Vent about the spring sports season you’re losing.

Tell us about your cat, or what you just watched on Netflix.

Write a poem, or, especially for young children, draw us something and take a photo.

Then send it to me, either on Facebook or at davidsvien@hotmail.com, and I will publish it on Coupeville Sports, so the whole world can see your work.

As a community, we are likely going to be forced apart in the coming weeks. This is a way to shorten that distance.

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Go for a run tonight and get a new support group. (Photo courtesy David Ford)

Want to get out and run, but don’t want to go alone?

Head out to Coupeville every Wednesday and Saturday and join a new low-stress, high-benefit running club created by David Ford.

There’s no cost for the Coupeville Running Club, and you don’t have to be a record-busting pro to join.

The group will run (or walk) a 5K every Wednesday night at 6 PM (starting today, July 24), with a five-mile run at 7 AM Saturday mornings.

If you want to take part in tonight’s inaugural Wednesday run, everyone is meeting in the Coupeville Elementary School parking lot at 6 S. Main.

The run itself will go north on the Kettles, hook onto Sherman, then follow a set course back to the school, where things will be capped with two laps around the track.

A post-run beer at the Penn Cove Tap Room, where everyone talks about how they could win the Boston Marathon right now, today, is optional.

Runners are encouraged to show up a bit early for the first Wednesday run (Ford will be at the school at 5:30), so groups can be put together based on average running times.

Side note – no headphones (encouraging you to interact with your fellow runners) and no dogs.

For Ford, this is a chance to encourage others, as well as himself.

“This is my effort to bring a subset of our community together to spend some time enjoying each other’s company while pounding the pavement,” he said. “This group will also provide some accountability on my quest to lead a somewhat healthy lifestyle.

“What’s in it for you? Whatever you make of it!”

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All your pertinent details, in a snazzy poster. (Photo courtesy Ben Etzell)

You can dance the afternoon away, and also support a good cause.

Former Coupeville High School baseball star Ben Etzell is back on the Island and is throwing a “Down 2 Boogie” event next Sunday, June 16.

The event runs from 2:30-5:30 at the Coupeville Rec Hall, and is free to the public.

It will also double as the kickoff to Lucas Etzell’s campaign for Mr. South Whidbey.

Lucas is Ben’s younger brother and one of four children in the family to graduate from Coupeville High School.

“I created the event in celebration of everyone’s unique abilities,” Ben Etzell said.

“Inspired by my brother Lucas, his experience with Down Syndrome, and the impact he’s had on others, my goal is to bring together communities for an afternoon of music, movement, and true connection.”

There will be a donation station at the event, with proceeds benefiting the Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund.

You can find out more about the group, which helps South Whidbey families pay medical bills, by popping over to http://fofmedicalsupportfund.org/.

Every dollar donated also counts as a vote for Lucas as he competes for Mr. South Whidbey, which awards its title in October.

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