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Is this the face of a man who can change? We’ll see. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

We have a problem.

And by “we,” I fully include myself.

Over the eight years that Coupeville Sports has existed, I have, on many occasions, written less than flattering things about various refs and umpires who have worked Wolf games.

Some of that was based on truth, or, at the least, what my admittedly biased brain believes to be the truth.

I’ve witnessed bad calls. Atrocious calls, even.

Occasionally seen what I believe to be bias at work.

Wondered how on Earth a human being can move down the field, or the court, or the diamond, with their head stuck so far up their nether regions.

While I haven’t screamed at the men and women in the stripes, I have used my bully pulpit — this blog — to share my thoughts on the subject.

Sometimes I have been funny about it. Or at least amused myself.

Other times I have been confrontational, rude, or far worse.

I don’t scream at the refs and umps, maybe, but I stoke the fire. I know that.

Oh, I will tell you I do it less today than I did two years ago, six years ago, or eight years ago, which is supposed to show growth. And it might.

But I still do it.

And I really shouldn’t.

People scream at games, and many say things which they hopefully regret later.

There’s a line between being involved, caring deeply, being protective, and just being rude asses.

It’s a line parents seem to be crossing more and more lately, and I see and hear it from Wolf fans at a level that wasn’t there in the past.

We are dangerously close to being the fans of the school other fans and schools talk about, and not in a good way.

I’m no innocent here.

My words, while initially not as loud as a parent swearing at a ref, ultimately last a lot longer, as they go into print, and live forever on the internet.

That’s probably worse.

There are rules for people who write for newspapers, rules I once lived under during a different part of this career.

Here, on my own blog, where I, and only I, edit my words, I have a great deal of freedom.

Freedom to be much more colorful in my writing style.

Freedom to cover what I want, when I want, how I want.

And, also, freedom to be an ass in a way I couldn’t be if my bylines were still running in the Whidbey News-Times or Skagit Valley Herald or Coupeville Examiner.

There is a guy deeply involved in sports in this town, a man who has seen the game from every side, as a player, a coach, a teacher, an administrator, and when he speaks, I do try and listen.

He made a good point recently, and he said it with a smile, but also with great seriousness.

That point is that, at a time when we are experiencing an unfortunate surge in parents being, frankly, asses, at their children’s games, especially in terms of what they scream at the refs and umps, I bear my share of the responsibility.

If I encourage that behavior, if I fan the flames, I’m as much of the problem as the person firing F-bombs like they’re manning an anti-aircraft gun.

I give the griping, the venting, the anger, an air of legitimacy. I celebrate it, and keep stoking the embers.

Coupeville Sports has, I don’t know if you’d call it “power,” but an ability to help shape the conversation.

It’s read by enough people, in the right demographics, and it continually surprises me how far out there in the universe my words travel on these here interwebs.

And I have to do better.

None of us here in Coupeville want to be thought of as ignorant hicks; we don’t want to be the town no one wants to play, not because of our skill, but because of our rudeness.

I’m not telling you not to protest when something seems wrong.

I’m not telling you not to support your team, your school, your town.

I’m not telling you to back down.

I want you to be as loud, and vocal, and supportive as possible.

But I am asking you to look down on the field, as you prepare to scream profanity at the refs and umps, who are being paid very little to make sure your children get to play competitive games, and think for a second.

Think about how the deluge of verbal crap is driving a large chunk of those men and women to quit.

I do.

There are refs and umps I have written harsh things about on this blog who I don’t see on the field anymore.

Were my words the final straw? It’s possible, and it’s deeply troubling.

Think about how the deluge of verbal crap affects your children.

Their coaches, their teachers, the school administration, are asking them to play hard but fair, to show respect for the opponent, their teammates, the refs, and the game itself.

And then their parent is screaming at the ref and asking him or her to do something anatomically impossible.

It’s amusing, until it’s not.

Or I’m bad-mouthing the same refs and umps, calling their integrity into question, giving them ample reason to think of me as a douche bag, and my town as a place they’d rather not work.

It’s amusing, until it’s not.

There will always be bad calls, though, as any reasonable person knows, “bad” often depends on which team you support, and whether the call went against that team.

We live in an angry world.

It may be naive to hope that one small slice of it — sports played by teens and pre-teens — can provide an oasis.

But, for that to even be a possibility, we all have to do better.

For my part, I’m going to try and change one aspect of my writing, by focusing less on the perceived failings of refs and umps.

There are days when it will be a struggle, I’m sure, but it’s something I need to do.

If nothing else, writing this blog, and getting input from people far more in tune with themselves, is sort of like going to therapy. Hopefully some of it sinks in over time.

I hope others, specifically CHS parents, join me in looking inward and trying to find a better balance as well.

It’s simple. We can be supportive, without being asses.

Towns should fear the arrival of Coupeville because they know its teams will dominate on the field, not because their school officials will have to debate chucking our fans out the side door, while banning me from the premises.

We are better. We just need to prove it.

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The band revs up on opening night for Coupeville High School football. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The sizzle of burgers on the grill fills the air.

Wolf volleyball ace Lucy Sandahl marinates in the moment.

The best chain gang in the biz gets a photo op. But, if they’re all on the field, who’s guarding their half-time snacks?!?!

Hannah Davidson acknowledges the roar of the crowd.

Coupeville cheerleaders come out strong.

Need a sweet deal on CHS merchandise? Booster Club bigwigs Abbie Martin (left) and Leann Leavitt are here for you.

Lisa Toomey, bringing good cheer to all.

Friday night football is always about more than just football.

As the biggest “event” sport in the high school game, gridiron action brings out a wide host of people.

From band members to cheerleaders to burger grillers, local photo whiz kid John Fisken always takes some time away from the game to capture the swirl of activity going on off-field.

The pics above capture football without football in all its wide-ranging glory.

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Sean Toomey-Stout had kick-off returns of 34 and 63 yards Friday in Coupeville’s first game of the season. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Aria Bowen rocks designer specs while Savannah Smith remains a woman of mystery.

Andrew Martin, who led Coupeville’s ground game, churns for yardage.

Volleyball ace Emma Mathusek enjoys a flavor-packed hamburger while trapped in the middle of a sea of humanity.

A gentle prairie breeze ripples the flags on a warm, sunny night.

Gavin Straub (44) and Gavin Knoblich (33) wrap up a RedHawk runner, while Dominic Coffman (45) comes flying in to help.

“Yeah, boy!!!!! That tackle is almost as tasty as my gum!!! Almost…”

Prairie superstars (left to right) Mallory Kortuem, Zoe Trujillo, and Maya Toomey-Stout are ready to get loud in support of their classmates.

Fall sports have sprung, in all their photographic glory.

Coupeville High School’s football team kicked off the 2019-2020 school year Friday, hosting Port Townsend, and the event was big enough to convince John Fisken to drive down from the city to the North.

Cameras at the ready, the wanderin’ paparazzi clicked away through the pre-game action and the first half of play.

The pics above are courtesy him, but are not all that he shot on the night.

To see more, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Football-2019-2020/FB-2019-09-06-vs-Pt-Townsend/

If you purchase any prints while there, a percentage of each sale goes into a fund Fisken uses at the end of the year, when he hands out scholarships to two CHS senior student/athletes.

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Coupeville super fan Gretchen Smith, a truly lovely human being, but also a back-alley brawler when needed. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The cameraman compliments her children, like daughter Heidi Monroe, and her grand-kids…

but when he starts pushing her to buy pics, Smith shows off why Joe Louis used to call her “The Dancing Assassin.”

It’s a good thing Gretchen Smith can take a gentle joke.

That’s all I’m saying, cause I don’t need Genna and Sarah Wright’s grandma coming for me with fists o’ fury.

Last time we saw each other, at a softball game in Granite Falls, she gave me a warm hug.

Of course, after this lil’ “story,” she might be offering free hay-makers next time.

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“On Tuesdays, we dress like twins.” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

With the night off, Coupeville female athletic stars show up to support their male counterparts.

Kyle Rockwell, making the world a better, more relaxed place, one shoulder rub at a time.

Shenanigans waiting to happen.

International superstar McKayla Bailey returns to the scene of her former glory days.

CHS varsity hoops stars wait to take the court.

The sisterhood is strong.

Studies show, four of five high school athletes like having their picture taken.

Each photo is a small slice of life.

While the action plays out on the court, there are a thousand little tales unfolding in the stands as well.

Ever-wandering paparazzi John Fisken knows this, and he lets his camera swing to and fro, capturing those moments in time for us.

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