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Under current guidelines, high school football is in danger of not returning this fall. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“I honestly don’t know about football, as we know it, happening in the fall, and I don’t think anyone else does either.”

That quote comes from someone right in the thick of things right now, a man with decades of experience in high school sports, as an athlete, coach, and administrator.

It’s a feeling shared by many, after the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released its most detailed guidelines yet on how prep sports MIGHT start back up this fall amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While a possible path was laid out for some sports to return, things don’t look good overall, and definitely not for football, the sport which typically brings in more money to a school’s athletic budget than every other sport combined.

As stated by the WIAA:

Counties in Phase 3 of Governor Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, such as Island County, can compete in “lower risk” sports.

For Coupeville High School, we’re essentially talking about cross country.

With “moderate risk” sports such as volleyball, soccer, and basketball, a county must be in Phase 4 for games to be played.

At the moment, as coronavirus cases rise in Washington and a statewide facemask requirement goes into effect Friday, the chances of any county jumping to Phase 4 — essentially a full return to normalcy — seems like a far-off mirage.

But, even if a county does get to Phase 4, the current guidelines leave three “higher risk” sports high and dry, with no timetable for a return.

Those sports — football, wrestling, and competitive cheer — “involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers, and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.”

You know, just like basketball…

Anyway.

Understandably, people are frustrated, and a petition on Change.org calling on the state to include “higher risk” sports in Phase 4 of the reopening plan is picking up steam.

The petition, called Let US Play – Washingtonian’s for Athletes-End Sports Lockdown, is making a run at 800 signatures as of Tuesday night.

 

To see the petition, pop over to:

https://www.change.org/p/jay-inslee-let-us-play-washingtonian-s-for-athletes-end-sports-lockdown

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CHS cheerleaders come together at a recent meet. (Photos courtesy BreAnna Boon)

“We’re going to Disney World!”

“We are just a small team with a big dream!”

And now that dream is coming true for Coupeville High School senior Ja’Tarya Hoskins and her teammates on the Wolf competition cheer squad.

In a little under two months, the Wolves will be in Florida, after the news hit Tuesday they had qualified for the National High School Cheerleading Championship.

NHSCC is set for Feb. 7-9, 2020 at the Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

Nationally televised on ESPN2 and ESPNU, it’s beamed out to more than 100 million homes and 32 countries.

Coupeville hitting the biggest stage out of all the big stages?

Not bad for a school which just returned to the competition mat last year after being absent for more than a decade.

In year one, CHS coach BreAnna Boon and her cheerleaders stunned folks by placing 3rd at the state meet.

This time around, they were looking for more. Much more.

“The cheerleaders have been working nonstop since summer camp with one goal in mind — nationals,” Boon said.

“With seven seniors on the squad, I wanted them to hit the goal so bad, but having gone to nationals myself all four years of high school (in Oak Harbor), I knew they had their work cut out for them.”

That didn’t deter the Wolves, who carry 10 girls and two boys on their competition roster.

Mica Shipley, Marenna Rebischke-Smith, Bella Velasco, Coral Caveness, Karyme Castro, Melia Welling, Ashleigh Battaglia, Emily Fiedler, Ella Bueler, and Hoskins are joined by Gavin St Onge and Dawson Houston.

“I have said from the very beginning, if there was a team that would get the bid, it would be this one,” Boon said. “The leadership and drive that these athletes possess is unbelievable. They set their minds to something, they won’t stop until they achieve it.

“I am there to coach them, but ultimately, they have to be willing and able to follow through with what they are being taught,” she added. “Individually they are all such great leaders, and then they come together on that cheer mat as a force to be reckoned with.

“They are always so excited to make the school and town of Coupeville proud.”

The Wolves will compete in the “small non-tumbling coed” division at nationals.

Having just added male cheerleaders this year, the CHS squad faces an uphill battle.

“Our boys have a lot of work ahead of them,” Boon said. “Being completely new to the cheer squad, and seniors, they haven’t had a lot of time to learn the coed stunts that most coed teams would be working on for a couple of years.

“I never thought when I started coaching at Coupeville, my second year in, I would have a team going to nationals! How crazy does that even sound?? It feels like a dream!”

Along with working on their routine, the Wolves need to raise the money necessary for the trip.

“We have A LOT of fundraising to do in a short amount of time,” Boon said. “So be looking out for ways to support your CHS cheer team!”

While the next two months will be packed with practice, the Wolves were content to bask in the moment Tuesday night, as they relayed their news to their classmates, parents, and fans after that night’s basketball games.

Smiles were the order of the day, and the electricity zinging from athlete to athlete was contagious.

“We’re going to Disney where dreams come true,” Ashleigh Battaglia said. “But our dreams just came true!”

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CHS cheerleaders (l to r) Ja’Tarya Hoskins, Emily Fiedler, Dawson Houston, and Melia Welling celebrate their success. (BreAnna Boon photos)

Your regional champs.

Disney World is in sight.

The Coupeville High School cheerleaders kicked off a new season of competition Saturday by winning their class at the UCA Northwest Regional, which brings the dream of a trip to nationals that much closer.

The Wolves, who vied in small coed non-tumbling, are in their second season of competition after many years of being only a sideline squad.

Last year they surpassed their goals, not only making it to state, but claiming 3rd place in 1A while there.

This time around, CHS coach BreAnna Boon and her squad, which has added male cheerleaders Gavin St Onge and Dawson Houston, are aiming to qualify for nationals, which are held in Florida.

“We will find out later this week if we qualify to go to nationals! NATIONALS!!,” said an excited, and sleep-deprived Boon. “That’s not something that was even in our dreams when we started the competition team last year, but here we are!

“It’s crazy to think that’s even possible for such a small squad, but if they are gonna get that bid, this would be the team to do it!,” she added. “Nationals is at Disney world, in Orlando, Florida, which is a big reach for our little tiny town, but these kids can do it no question.”

While they’re aiming beyond state this season, the Wolves have already shown they could qualify for that meet, if they wanted.

Coupeville scored a 69.70 in their event Saturday, and the qualifying score for state in small coed non-tumbling is 59.

Saturday’s competition was a regional event, and doesn’t count officially towards qualifying for state, but a statement was made.

“If the kids keep improving, the state qualifying score is already there,” Boon said.

But, as stated before, Coupeville is aiming for the top rung this season, and, with that goal, came a quick start to the season.

“This competition was very early on in the game,” Boon said. “Usually teams don’t start competing until the end of November or December, so to go to a competition the very first Saturday of November was not an easy thing to do.”

Her squad put in strong work behind the scenes, which is already beginning to pay off.

“We have had to overcome so many obstacles I honestly didn’t know if we would make it to the competition,” Boon said. “Every single day this week we were thrown a curve ball.

“But this is, by far, one of the strongest teams I have ever coached – mentally and physically,” she added. “They know how to get their head in the game and get the work done.”

It’s already shown results, as the Wolves returned from regionals and promptly stormed the office of CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith.

“My favorite part of the day was when the kids got the trophy they all yelled “THIS IS GOING IN WILLIE’S OFFICE!!,” Boon said with a big laugh.

“They were most excited to bring that hardware back to set it in his window sill,” she added. “Their goal is to line his office with trophies!”

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Coupeville High School cheer coach BreAnna Boon, captured on film during a rare quiet moment. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

After a seven-year break, the Wolf cheer squad has returned to competition in style. (Photo courtesy Boon)

Week by week, competition by competition, practice by practice, there is one goal.

Improvement, as individuals and as a team.

While Coupeville High School cheer coach BreAnna Boon would love to add some championship plaques to the school’s Wall of Fame, her focus remains crystal clear.

“From the very start, I have told my cheerleaders that their only competition is their score sheets from the previous week,” Boon said. “I don’t care what the other teams put out on the mat, I care that the CHS cheer squad leaves their best performance out there.”

And her cheerleaders are listening, and responding.

After not fielding a competitive cheer squad since 2011, the Wolves are back, and are coming for all the trophies.

Saturday, competing in the Small Game Day division at an event in Auburn, Coupeville claimed 3rd place, but actually bettered its score from its first competition, where it placed 2nd.

And, not only did the Wolves raise their score, but they did so by a staggering amount – 12 points.

“That’s almost unheard of in the cheer world,” Boon said. “Week to week usually teams vary their score three to five points.

The Wolves, who are pulling double duty during winter, working as a sideline team for basketball while also training and competing, face down all comers at their events.

Any school, from 4A down to 1B, can send a squad onto the mat in their class during the regular season, as long as they have 12 or less cheerleaders competing.

If CHS makes it to state, which requires earning 65 points at a regular-season event, it will face off only with fellow 1A schools at the championships.

Through the first two events, the competition roster has included Jaden Marrs, Bella Velasco, Kim Castro, Melia Welling, Marenna Rebischke-Smith, Coral Caveness, Ashleigh Battaglia, Mica Shipley, Ja’Tarya Hoskins, and Emily Fiedler.

Senior Julie Bucio will sub in for Welling next Saturday, Dec. 15, when the Wolves compete at the “Battle at the Border” in Vancouver.

While Boon appreciates the hard work her athletes give her, they return the feeling.

“We haven’t had a coach that has put as much effort into us as Bre has since Sylvia (Arnold)!,” Caveness said. “We appreciate her so much and we are gonna accomplish great things and are excited to make our goals!”

As the Wolves continue to collect awards, the focus never changes.

“When I first talked about going to competition with the team, we were never out to compete against anyone else; we were only out to hit that 65-point goal, because that will qualify us for state,” Boon said.

“You wouldn’t wouldn’t believe the hard work these girls put in at practice,” she added. “The routine basically changes every week based on the critiques from the judges.

“There are ton of teams that have won 1st place, but not qualified for state. It’s great to bring home a 2nd and 3rd placement, but the girls are really striving for that 65, and we are gonna keep working towards that!”

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