Posts Tagged ‘Coupeville Sports’

   My “winter depression beard” has the early lead on CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith’s more dapper face fuzz. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Somehow, I have managed to avoid reality for two-and-a-half years.

I started Coupeville Sports in Aug. 2012, but stepped away from my “real world” job and went to full-time writing June 1, 2015.

With no business plan beyond “hey, I’ll devote all my time to covering high school and middle school sports in a rural town on a rock in the middle of the water and maybe someone will toss a coin or two into my hat,” I have persisted.

It helps I don’t pour money into smoking, drinking or owning a phone. The last part makes watching movies so much better – embrace the quiet.

It also helps I am fine with driving what can charitably be referred to as a “hunk o’ junk” and I have pared my bills down to the barest of bare minimums.

Also really helps I have a landlord, CHS alum Jack Sell, who hasn’t drop-kicked me those times when I needed an extra day or two to pull together his money.

How much longer can I keep this going? Good question.

Journalism is a fickle business, whether you work for a newspaper funded by a kajillionaire in Moose Jaw or hack away at the keyboard in the middle of the night on the (sometimes fragrant) shores of Penn Cove.

For me, not counting sales of my books (Stephen King trembles…), there’s essentially three ways to fund Coupeville Sports. One is dry, the other will never work and the third is my lifeblood.

When I started this blog, 5+ years and 5,681 articles ago, there was no reason for anyone to believe it would survive longer than that South Whidbey sports blog which went down in spectacular flames after a single day.

To convince people to give me a try, I sold my advertising for “the life of the site.” Which pretty much guaranteed that, if I survived, at some point, there would be little room for growth.

So be it.

Those who took a chance on me in the early days, from Shelli Trumbull to Jon Roberts to Paula Spina, got more than they probably anticipated.

I’m glad it worked out for them, and the others who have chosen to support me in that manner, even if that means there’s little room for future growth.

Route #2 would be to mirror many newspapers and drop a pay wall on Coupeville Sports.

Never going to happen. Ever.

If you choose to go that way as a publication, God bless.

And if, while you insist it works, the bean counters up North still make you lop off an editor during the holidays, well, maybe the pay wall kept that job in play a few more days. Maybe.

But I have said since day one, Coupeville Sports is free. If you want to read it, read it. If you want to support it, great. If you don’t, such is life.

Call me obstinate, but no pay wall. Ever.

Which brings us to the only way this blog has stayed on its feet — you, the reader. Especially the reader who gives back.

Donations, from the person who slips money into my pocket as we pass at Prairie Center, to those who use the PayPal button on the top right of the blog, are what keep me moving forward.

The longer I’ve been away from having a “real world” job, the more I have not wanted to return.

There are many days where I’m a half step away from fully embracing the hermit life, so it’s a good thing my “winter depression beard” is coming in thick.

Writing Coupeville Sports, and attending games, forces me to have interaction with the outside world, to “use my words” with someone other than my landlord’s outside cats.

Which is probably a good thing.

In a magical world, someone (are you listening Mr. Gates?) would step up and offer me a $5,000 grant, which would pay my rent at Coupeville Sports World Headquarters for a year.

Back here, in the real world, I’ll just say this — if you enjoy reading my work, if you think it’s providing something unique, if you believe it’s worth supporting, maybe add me to your Black Friday list and use this handy link:


If you do, thank you. And, if you don’t, keep reading.

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Your pocket change can push me over the goal line. (David Stern photo)

I’m never getting that indoor/outdoor swimming pool with the waterfall in the middle.

That’s just reality.

Maybe if I was writing about food like my sister, or if I could churn out best sellers like Stephen King.

But, when I chose to focus on small town sports, I kind of knew the closest I was ever coming to a waterfall was rigging a garden hose over the back door.

So be it.

But while I’m not here for the money, I do need some pocket change to pay my (very pared-down) bills.

I’m managed to stay out of the dish pits for two-plus years now (my fingers say a silent prayer of thanks each night), and I’d like to keep it that way.

This past weekend, from Friday night to early Sunday evening, I was able to cover CHS football and girls soccer games in person and churn out 10 articles, something I couldn’t have done if I was juggling a “real world” job with Coupeville Sports.

Right there, waiting for you to marinate in while you ate breakfast Saturday, was an in-depth and first-hand account of the Wolves epic gridiron shellacking of old-school rival La Conner.

After that, the articles kept coming, from a cancer fundraiser to a feature on a Wolf cheerleader with Downs Syndrome to a look at Coleby Fleming’s aerial adventures in Norway.

Plus cross country, volleyball and soccer results (mere moments after play finished), fresh football stats, league standings for all CHS varsity teams and much, much more.

I’m not going to be modest here.

I am your fastest, most in-depth (some might say obsessively so) news source on Whidbey Island, and I give it to you without a pay wall.

Want to support me? Great. Want to read for free? Great.

As this new school year kicks into gear, I’m going to make one fundraiser plea.

I’m not a TV evangelist. I won’t be back asking for more each week.

Plus, I mean, I don’t have enough hair anymore to slick it back, Joel Osteen-style, anyway.

One request, and then we all move on with our lives.

And it’s this — if you like what I do, if you appreciate what I do, if you want to help make sure what I do continues, think about showing that support.

Your donations, whether they are one-time or repeating, are the life blood of Coupeville Sports.

Whether it’s loose pocket change or enough to build that swimming pool (I can dream…), you make all of this possible.

If you’re so inclined, there’s a donation button at the top of the blog.

If you don’t like PayPal, my mailing address is 165 N. Sherman, Coupeville, WA 98239, or you can slip something into my pocket at a game (though maybe not your discarded candy wrappers).

OK, that’s it.

I appreciate your support more than you know, and this is the last time this school year you’ll hear me asking for donations.

After this, I’ll be too busy writing real stories.

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Currently the 679,065th best seller on Amazon.

We’re less than two months away from the five-year anniversary of Coupeville Sports.

During that time, all of us, working together, have produced 5,359 articles, published a book, erected a Wall of Fame in the CHS gym honoring titles won by Wolf athletes and teams from 1900-2017, and brought the school’s football record board up to date.

I say all of us, because while I am doing the writing (and a lot of the agitating), none of this would be accomplished without you.

The readers. The advertisers. The supporters.

No one is ever going to get rich writing about small town sports.

My dream of an indoor/outdoor swimming pool with a waterfall in the middle will probably have to wait.

But I have been able to stay ahead of my very limited bills, and stay away from “real” work for the past two years.

My fingers thank you. My back thanks you. I thank you.

Not having to wash dishes allowed me the chance to do the research necessary for the Wall of Fame and the football board, giving me time I wouldn’t have had if I was still balancing writing with a day-to-day job.

Going forward, I’d like to do more research, to maybe get basketball its own record board, so the sport which holds the key to the CHS gym could be on an equal footing with volleyball, football and track.

Then, of course, there’s softball, baseball, soccer and tennis, which I’m sure would like their own boards, as well.

To do any of that, to put in research time, to get the backing of those in charge to add new boards, to, frankly, be a (semi-pleasant) pain in the tush, I need your help.

How, you ask?

Well, every time someone gives me info on CHS sports history, it helps.

Every time someone says “Good job,” it helps.

Every time someone thinks twice about throwing rotten tomatoes at me (even when I write something they don’t appreciate), it helps.

But, most of all, a little financial help goes a LONG way.

There are three ways to keep the Coupeville Sports machine rollin’ along.


Whether it’s a one-time gift or you like to make it rain on a regular basis, this is the lifeblood of the poor but plucky writer.

You can hit the donate button which sits conveniently at the top of the blog, or, if you don’t like PayPal, my mailing address is 165 N. Sherman, Coupeville, WA 98239.

Or slip something into my pocket at a game. Well, maybe not your discarded candy wrappers…


I’m the best deal in town — $100 gets you an ad for the life of the site.

Ads run down the right side of Coupeville Sports and when readers click on them, it shoots them to your website or Facebook page.

Don’t have either one? No worries. I can link your ad to a page on my blog where I make your business sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Buy my book:

Hop over to Amazon —  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1547255544/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497205922&sr=8-1&keywords=David+Svien — or buy one from me in person (as soon as I get more copies in).

Christmas gifts, man, Christmas gifts. Gotta be thinking ahead.

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I’m not wearing pants in this photo. If I had a “real” job, I’d have to wear pants.

Everything about Coupeville Sports is irrational.

If I was being rational, I wouldn’t have thrown a hissy fit when the Coupeville Examiner sold itself to the same Canadian newspaper conglomerate that already owned the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record and stomped off to start this blog in August, 2012.

Of course, when years of my freelance stories (many of which were never paid for) got deleted in a single keystroke, it was fairly easy to feel all pissy and self-righteous.

If I was being rational, I would have accepted one of the overtures I have received since then, and taken my writing skills back inside the conventional newspaper industry.

But once you get a taste of freedom, with its double-exclamation point headlines, you can’t go back. Or, at least, I doubt I could.

While Coupeville Sports has never made me rich (focusing on a small town in the middle of nowhere apparently is not catnip to national advertisers), I have gotten far more enjoyment out of the last 43 months than I did out of the previous 15 years of freelance writing.

Now, for the first 33 months of this blog, I balanced it with a “real” job at Christopher’s on Whidbey, which helped pay the bills.

Last May I decided to take some time off, mainly to help my fingers, which are kinda, sorta important to writing.

Dish-washing and onion peeling are brutal on the hands, and, while owner Andreas Wurzrainer was exceedingly helpful when it came to juggling schedules so I could cover sports, three-plus years in the pit was more than enough.

Having never been without a “real” job for longer than 2-3 weeks since I was a pre-teen (my dad enjoyed having his children work for his window washing/carpet cleaning business), taking what I thought would be a month or two off seemed quite exciting.

Then, things happened, my personal life imploded (I’ll spare you the details) and I developed a serious resistance to plunging back into the “real” job world, something that has only intensified in the months that followed.

So, I doubled down on Coupeville Sports, greatly expanding my coverage, both in terms of what I covered in person and how in-depth I’ve gone.

I sold all my DVDs (2,500+), radically reduced my bills (rent, propane, internet and car insurance on “The Beast That Will Not Die” is all I have), finally got an EBT card and have managed to stay one (small) step ahead for almost 10 months now.

During that time, I have been a regular at middle school games, hitched rides with people to cover stuff on the road, written a billion (give or take one or two) birthday articles and gone extensively into local sports history in a way not done before.

With all due respect to the local newspapers, and my mentors like Jim Waller and Keven Graves, I offer something they don’t have the time, patience or desire to do.

They have to juggle two towns, they face deadlines, they have to be more professional, than I do. Comes with the job.

They are the dad sitting in the easy chair, reading the paper and occasionally looking over it to tell you what’s going on in the world. And don’t get me wrong, they are very good at what they do, and they fill an important role.

I have no desire to see the newspapers go away.

But me?

I’m the little kid who has crawled up to the top of the fence, and then, as I’m rocking back and forth, trying not to crack open my head, bellows “Hey, hey, hey, guess what I heard?!?!?!?”

I’m the gossip guy, the builder of myths, the nickname-giver, the idiot who is entertaining himself (and hopefully a few others).

Still tick off some people (especially if they live in South Whidbey and are softball fans), but hopefully have mellowed a bit. But just a bit.

In the end, all my writing, all the photos, all the hyperventilating hyperbole is meant to do one thing — to make all the other towns, and their athletes and coaches, jealous.

If they lived in Coupeville, they’d be immortalized.

But they live in Darrington, or Seattle, or, God help them, the wilds of South Whidbey, and they’re lucky to get one story a year.

We may not have as many championships as other towns, but we’re damn sure going to be the kings and queens of story-telling.

When our kids, the kids you raised and the kids I wrote about, graduate and move on, they will be able to look back and say “I was part of something special, something that hadn’t happened before.”

At least I’d like to think so.

But then, I’m an unemployed idiot, so take everything I say with a grain of salt, maybe.

And now we get to the point of all of this (’bout freakin’ time…) ranting and raving.

As we sit here in the middle of March, I have hit the wall.

Even with my sparse bills (did I mention I don’t waste money on cigarettes, booze or Netflix?), I either need to get some help or I will need to return to the “real” working world before the month is done.

Either way, Coupeville Sports is not going anywhere. And I will never charge you to read my stories like the newspapers do.

But, if I go back to “real” work, coverage will change.

Birthday stories and a lot of the deep history stories will most likely have to be cut. I won’t have the time.

Covering events in person, which allows me to be much more creative than merely writing off of emails from coaches (with the exception of David and Amy King, who spin beautiful stories while riding school buses), could be greatly affected, depending on the time constraints of a real job.

I would prefer to remain a “shiftless bum,” with writing my main priority.

If you want to help, there are three ways.

Donations, either one-time or monthly, are greatly appreciated. There is a handy button on the top right of this blog, I have a mailbox (165 Sherman, Coupeville, WA 98239) or you can slip something in my pocket at a game.

Not your wadded up candy wrapper, maybe, but you get the point.

I also sell ads (they go down the right side of the blog) for $100, and, once purchased, are good for the life of the blog.

Yes, yes, yes, selling them once raises less money than repeatedly charging people (I know how advertising works), but it’s how I started and it wouldn’t be fair to those who supported me in the beginning to change the rules now.

Irrational, maybe. Loyal, definitely.

The third option is to have me write stuff for your business, like I do with places such as Ashley’s Design and The Pacific NorthWest Art School.

Typically I charge $30 for an article per month (topic of your choosing) or, if you sign up for a year and hand me $300, I’ll give you two free months.

Heck, I’ll write the Christmas letter you send to family, if you like. Make lil’ Johnny and Sally sound like superstars!

Coupeville Sports, in all its irrational glory, has always been what we all make of it. And that will always hold true.

We’ll keep moving forward, and see where this wacky ride ends up going.

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"Man, Uncle David, you do jabber on, don't you?"

“Man, Uncle David, you do jabber on, don’t you?”

I’m having a bit of an existential crisis over here.

It’s been sparked by a lot of things, probably, as I wound my way through one of the more bizarre summers of my life.

In no particular order I:

Quit my day job of three-plus years in an effort to save my typing fingers from the ravages of more battles with the dish pit.

Then drifted along, swimming with the jellyfish in Penn Cove and not accomplishing much at all, certainly not finding a new job.

Sold every single one of my 2,700 DVDs, even greatest-movie-of-all-time “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the unfairly maligned “Bad Girls from Valley High.”

The landlord does appreciate getting his rent in a timely fashion.

Found myself in an unexpected romantic relationship that went from zero to 199 MPH before I was (metaphorically) slammed into a brick wall by my first up-close encounter with truly unfathomable mental illness.

Breakups happen. People get mad or change.

But when fear and paranoia that haunt a beautiful, intelligent, joyful person rips free and strips all that away in a blink of an eye, it scars. Badly.

Got to experience the inside of our judicial system as it was being abused for the first time.

Gave consideration to going back into the world of professional/corporate newspapers again in some manner, while actually returning to the pages of The Whidbey Examiner, for one story at least, after an absence of four years.

That last one might have been the oddest of all those moments.

It’s a good story, one that deserved to be told, but, as I posted a link to it on Facebook today and didn’t see the usual Coupeville Sports kicker, I knew, immediately, this would not work. Not at this point in my life.

After all the time and sweat poured into my own project, doing side work, even for money, left me with an eerie empty feeling I couldn’t shake.

There was a 15-year-plus streak where my writing appeared every week in the Examiner, without fail.

My movie column jumped from the Whidbey News-Times to the Examiner (when they were actual rivals and not sister publications owned by a giant conglomerate) when the upstart was on issue #2 or #3, and kept on rolling, week after week, for a surprisingly long time.

Later, I wrote a lot of sports articles (and even got paid for a few) and there was a time when, arguably, my byline had appeared in those pages, and later, online, as much or more than any other writer in the paper’s history.

And then, long story compressed into a single run-on sentence, the Examiner got sold, thousands of my bylines got erased, I got pissed, launched Coupeville Sports and went to war with the “Evil Empire,” only to find, to my surprise, the joy I got from my new endeavor mattered more than any trumped-up feud.

Being able to be my own editor, to publish whatever I choose, whenever I choose, however I choose, without concern over being impartial and detached (cause I’m not) has been liberating. It has been invigorating.

What it hasn’t been is all that profitable.

But that’s fine.

If I was writing for the money, a regular paycheck, I would go back to “real” journalism, in whatever capacity was available to me.

Which I considered.

And believe me, none of this is meant as a knock on the people currently working for the papers here on Whidbey. They’re in the job for more than money.

I know most of them very well, they are people who helped me along the way and influenced my writing, and I have great respect for long-time pros like Keven Graves, Jim Waller and Jessie Stensland.

I just can’t do what they’re doing, even if I thought, for a brief second, I might be able to do so again.

It’s mainly I just don’t want to have to go put pants on again. My shorts-clad legs crave the open air of Whidbey winters in all its ferocious glory.

And yes, you can remind me I said that two months from now when I turn blue in the time it takes to go from my car to the gym.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to one thing. I believe in Coupeville Sports.

I believe in the improbable dream that at some point, I will give every single athlete in Cow Town their very own feature story.

We’re not quite there yet, but over the course of 3,441 articles and a gazillion photos, we have created something that couldn’t happen, that wouldn’t happen, at the newspapers.

It’s why I sold my DVDs, to give myself some time where my only focus was on the blog while still being able to pay my very limited bills.

That time is about to run out, so I may need to get past my summer-long mental block and get a “real” job again, though I hope not.

In a perfect world, every one who tells me how much they enjoy what I am doing here on Coupeville Sports would want this to be my “real” job, would skip one day’s Starbucks and donate $5 to the cause.

But, as this summer has repeatedly hammered home, perfection is awfully hard to capture.

Not that I’m going to stop trying, one existential crisis at a time.

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