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With Friday Harbor athletes returning to action, Coupeville hoops players like Logan Martin can look forward (hopefully) to playing a 12-game season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Everyone in the Northwest 2B/1B League is playing basketball.

At least that’s the plan as of April 27.

Here in the Age of Coronavirus, everything could be changed by April 28, of course.

But, for now, the news is good, as Friday Harbor High School, which completely opted out of playing fall sports after a surge in positive Covid cases, announced Tuesday it intends to return to competition as its students go back to in-person education.

“With the return of students to school on Monday, May 3rd, sports season three (winter) has also been approved to begin,” said Friday Harbor Athletic Director Brock Hauck.

“Girls and boys basketball practices will start on Monday, May 3rd,” he added. “A decision on the wrestling season is still to be determined.”

Since Coupeville doesn’t have a wrestling program, the last part of that statement has little impact on the Wolves.

But the first half is a bonus, as it suggests (for the moment, at least) that CHS will have a full (by pandemic season standards) 12-game basketball schedule.

Current plans call for the final season of the 2020-2021 school year to start May 3, with basketball games running May 18-June 17.

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Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King, modern day. 

Heated rival to ardent supporter — Steve King has taken the complete journey when it comes to Wolf athletics.

These days, he’s Superintendent of the Coupeville School District, a position he’s held since 2018, and he’s often front and center when various CHS and CMS teams play.

But, back in the day, the 1987 Friday Harbor High School grad was a deeply-committed Wolverine, a young man who played four years of football, basketball, and golf for one of Coupeville’s biggest rivals.

The two schools reunited in the Northwest 2B/1B League this school year, with Coupeville’s move from 1A to 2B, bringing back memories of when King was in high school.

Back in the mid to late ’80s, the Wolves and Wolverines were also league mates, and regularly clashed.

Little did anyone know that Friday Harbor’s quarterback would one day be employed by Coupeville, and that the football coach on the other side of the field would still be a CHS teacher when it first happened.

“We always played them in football and basketball, so I got to know them well,” King said. “When I first came to Coupeville as superintendent, I met Ron Bagby, and we both figured out that he had coached against me.

“I think he remembered me, and I remembered him as the young Coupeville coach that always wore shorts no matter what the weather was,” he added.

“I think I thought he was a little crazy. Ha!”

Bagby is not the only ’80s Wolf King has reconnected with, however.

“I know multiple parents and community members who I competed against in high school,” King said. “Including one of our staff members, (Maintenance/Transportation Director) Scott Losey.”

None made as big an impact as the guy he routinely squared off with on the gridiron and hardwood.

“The one Coupeville athlete that always stood out for me was Mitch Aparicio,” King said. “I don’t think he and I liked each other very much while we were in high school.

“He was the star running back and linebacker for Coupeville, and he always seemed to guard me in basketball,” he added. “I hate to admit this, but I kind of found him annoying and a little cocky when we were in high school.

“But I think he kind of thought the same thing about me.”

Given a second chance to interact, however, the two quickly found common ground.

“When I first came to Coupeville, we played golf together and had a lot of fun and good laughs sharing memories from high school,” King said. “Interesting how old rivals from different schools can actually end up being friends who have a lot in common.”

In a time before cell phones swept the nation, the superintendent, like most children his age, spent much of his time outdoors, bouncing from season to season.

Just don’t ask him to single out one sport as his favorite.

“That is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child,” King said with a laugh. “I loved them all for different reasons.

“As a very young child my dad was the scorekeeper for basketball, so I played basketball all the time,” he added. “When I was about 10, I lived on the golf course and got my first set of golf clubs and became an avid golfer. In high school, I fell in love with playing football.

“During high school my favorite sport was always the one I was currently playing.”

King had great success as a prep athlete, long hours of effort turning into achievement.

While time has gone by, the memories never fade, from the time he poured in 31 points against Darrington during a basketball game his junior season, to his final moments in each uniform.

The hardwood scoring explosion, which came before the addition of the three-point line, was eerily unique in many ways.

King wore #31, it was his 31st varsity game, the contest was played January 31, and it was the 31st time a Friday Harbor hoops player had cracked the 30-point barrier.

Back in his days as a sweet-shooting basketball star.

His final basketball game actually came on Coupeville’s court, a district tournament loss when a victory would have sent Friday Harbor to the state tourney.

“I had one of the worst games of my career in that final game in the Coupeville gym,” King said. “I took my uniform off for the last time in that locker room and there were many tears shed.

“I love walking into that gym now, but in 1987, I did not view it as a very positive place.”

A far happier memory is of his final football game, a win against Orcas Island.

“We were not going to the playoffs, but it was nice to finish my career with a win on our home field,” King said. “I remember celebrating with all of my teammates, and then how sad we all were as we took off those uniforms for the last time.

“I remember celebrating with teammates that I would never have been friends with if I was not involved with sports,” he said. “Sports, and especially football for me, taught me to accept and be friends with people who were very different from me.”

The lessons he learned as a high school athlete helped shape King in the moment, but even more so as he went on to pursue a career in education, as a teacher, coach, and administrator.

“Playing sports had such a big impact on my character development,” he said. “While I always wanted to win, I can look back now and say I always learned more through adversity and losing.

“Sports certainly helped me grow up and gave me purpose while I was in high school.”

Learning to show leadership in the huddle helped King as he chased non-sports dreams, as well.

“It helped give me the confidence and courage to commit my life to education while being both a positive leader and a good teammate,” he said.

“The other two things that come to mind is how sports gave me a strong work ethic and the ability to deal with adversity,” King added.

“Things don’t always go your way in sports, and it was good for me to learn at an early age to give my best and still be able to gracefully deal with the results even when they do not go my way.”

Those lessons were imparted by numerous coaches, with two, Ken Axelson and Burrell Osbourne, making a special impact on King’s life.

Axelson, who coached football, lit a spark in his young QB, both on and off the field.

“Coach Axelson and his wife, Mrs. (Diane) Axelson, were the two staff members who convinced me to pursue a career in education,” King said.

“Coach Axelson not only influenced me in high school, but also throughout my life as he became a high school principal, and later a superintendent. I sort of followed in his footsteps and he has provided me support and mentorship at various points in my life.”

Osbourne was King’s mentor on the golf course, with the duo coming together early in the young athlete’s life.

Burrell was a retired golfer in his 60’s and 70’s and he was actually one of my best friends growing up,” King said. “I often golfed 18 or 36 holes per day with him during the summer when I was in elementary and middle school. I loved him so much!

“I got to play on the golf team with him as coach for four years and I have great memories of many laughs and times together.

“Sadly, Burrell tragically died in a plane crash the year after I graduated from high school. I will never forget him.”

Ready for a round (or two, or three) of golf.

King followed both of his mentors into coaching, working with numerous programs in the Mount Baker school district during his time as a teacher.

He was girls golf coach for five seasons, leading the Mountaineer duffers to a state title in 2001, while also working with basketball, football, and baseball teams.

While he’s no longer coaching — being a superintendent, especially during the Age of Coronavirus, is a time-consuming profession — King remains an ardent supporter of the athletes and coaches in his district.

CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith, working with the support of King and other administrators, has been at the forefront of restarting athletics after the pandemic shutdown.

“I am sorry that so many of our students had to sacrifice so much of their sports seasons the last two years due to COVID,” King said. “They have sacrificed so much and I don’t think there is any way we can repay them.

“I am glad we are finally getting some athletic opportunities for our students this spring.”

In good times or bad, King hopes his students always realize the opportunities sports and activities offer, and that they take advantage.

“My advice, get off your devices and get active,” he said. “Be committed to your team before yourself.

“I hope that everyone will realize that 51% of our job is to make our teammates successful and 49% of our job is to make yourself successful,” King added. “Compete with all you have, and then do your best to gracefully accept the results.

“I hope that you are grateful for your coaches, teammates, referees, bus drivers, family members, etc., who support you.”

Whether you’re a superstar or role player, playing sports, especially at the middle and high school level, can positively affect every part of your life.

King would hold himself up as proof of that.

“Being involved and participating is a major part of a student’s overall well-being, growth, and development,” he said. “Also, students who participate always tend to have more academic success as well.

“There is really only one time in your life when you can participate in organized sports, so I hope our students will take advantage of it,” King added. “They can not only build character, but they gain friendships, resilience and overall health through participation as well.”

Looking back at his own high school sports career, three decades later, King has the benefit of time to help shape his perspective.

How does he hope Friday Harbor fans (and his one-time rivals) remember him?

“As someone who absolutely loved to compete and have fun,” King said.

“I think when I was in high school, I wanted everyone to think I was really talented,” he added. “Now, I hope they remember some positive qualities, such as being a hard worker, dedicated, a good teammate, being inspirational, and always giving it my best.

“I hope they remember my positive passion.”

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Andrew Aparicio and other Coupeville netters won’t play in April and May, as planned, after Friday Harbor cancelled all fall sports. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One rival steps down, and Coupeville High School loses 12 games and matches off its schedule.

Due to what the San Juan Islander is terming a “significant surge in positive COVID cases in the San Juan Island community,” Friday Harbor High School will not play fall sports, which begin this week.

That move affects four Coupeville teams, with boys tennis being hurt the most.

Friday Harbor is the only other Northwest 2B/1B League school to play the net game, so Coupeville’s entire six-match schedule for this pandemic-shortened season is lost.

That sends the Wolf netters to the sideline, though they can join cross country or football.

Coupeville’s volleyball, football, and girls soccer squads are also affected by the reduction in foes.

The loss of Friday Harbor cuts Coupeville’s soccer schedule from nine to six games, trims volleyball’s campaign from 12 matches to 10, and slashes football from four games to three.

Soccer loses road games April 9 and May 1, and a home tilt April 20, while volleyball was scheduled to host Friday Harbor April 10, then travel April 24.

CHS football is set to open at home against La Conner this Saturday, April 10.

With Friday Harbor’s departure, the Wolf gridiron squad will then sit until April 30, when they travel to La Conner for a rematch. They close their season May 8 at home against Concrete.

With NWL schools only playing league foes during the 2020-2021 school year, it’s unlikely any of the cancelled games or matches will be replaced.

And before you ask, Coupeville can’t call up its Whidbey neighbors, as tempting as that would normally be.

The leagues which Oak Harbor and South Whidbey are currently in played fall sports first, and are now playing spring sports.

CHS and the NWL opted to open with spring sports — all played outdoors — as prep sports teams tentatively returned from a year-plus absence.

 

To read more about the surge in cases on Friday Harbor, pop over to:

ALERT: Surge in cases on San Juan Island; here’s what to do (sanjuanislander.com)

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Cody Roberts was one of eight Wolves to collect a hit Friday afternoon. (Morgan White photos)

The little things were a killer.

Playing a must-win game Friday, the Coupeville High School baseball squad outhit host Friday Harbor 10-5, yet still fell 8-6 on the scoreboard.

The difference was the five errors the Wolves committed, the eight walks they surrendered, and the runners they left aboard.

With the loss Coupeville drops to 6-3 in this pandemic-shortened season, while Friday Harbor (9-0) — the only team the Wolves have lost to — clinches the Northwest 2B/1B League title.

The trip was originally supposed to be a doubleheader, but with the first game running long, darkness on the horizon, and a champion crowned, the nightcap was cancelled.

Coupeville went into the afternoon knowing it still had a shot of at least sharing the league crown, but only if it swept both scheduled games from the Wolverines.

That would have left the two squads deadlocked at 8-2 heading into Saturday’s finales.

Instead, the Wolves will look to build on their positives from Friday and bounce back strongly against winless La Conner during a final, no-ferry-required road trip.

Facing off with the crafty, but not overpowering Wolverines, Coupeville went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, then almost did the same to their hosts.

Unfortunately, they came up one batter short, and got stung.

After CHS pitcher Jonathan Valenzuela whiffed the first two Friday Harbor batters, the Wolverines took advantage of a pair of errors wrapped around a walk to ignite a fire.

Two singles made for decent kindling, and what looked like it would be a scoreless tie after one became a 3-0 deficit Coupeville would never quite overcome.

The Wolves had opportunity, as senior Daniel Olson led off the second inning with a resounding triple.

Only he died at third, when Friday Harbor’s pitcher dodged a bullet three straight times.

A Hawthorne Wolfe single also went for naught in the third, and by the time Coupeville found its scoring touch, it trailed 5-0 entering the top of the fourth.

That was Coupeville’s best frame, with a walk to Sage Sharp, singles from Valenzuela, Cody Roberts, and Peyton Caveness, and another big three-bagger — this one from super sophomore Scott Hilborn — putting four runs on the board.

The Wolves knotted things at 5-5 with a run in the fifth, with Sharp and Valenzuela collecting base-knocks, but Friday Harbor promptly reclaimed the lead.

CHS stranded a pair of runners in the sixth, after freshmen Caveness and Zane Oldenstadt got aboard on singles, before almost rallying in the seventh.

Zane Oldenstadt, collecting base-knocks.

Friday Harbor made its own errors, dropping a third strike and booting another ball, allowing the Wolves to trim things to 8-6, but that was as far as it went.

Valenzuela (who had eight K’s on the mound) and Caveness each had a pair of singles, with Wolfe, Sharp, Olson, Hilborn, Roberts, and Oldenstadt chipping in with a hit apiece.

Cole White and Xavier Murdy rounded out the very-young Wolf lineup, in which five of 10 players to see action Friday were freshmen or sophomores.

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Dakota Eck returns an interception last season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One bad test, lots of fall-out.

A positive COVID-19 result for a member of the Friday Harbor High School boys track and field team will derail its scheduled football opener.

That’s because many of the school’s track athletes are also football players, and will have to sit out for two weeks.

That game, set for April 9, was supposed to be a road contest at Coupeville.

The Wolves will instead pick up a game with La Conner to take its place, but will play Saturday, April 10 instead.

Kickoff is 6 PM.

“It was better for the officials (to move to Saturday),” said Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith.

The move creates a bit of a conflict for CHS workers, as Coupeville also hosts its home volleyball opener the same day, with JV at 3:30 and varsity at 5:00.

But, it is what it is, in this Age of Coronavirus.

“We don’t have a lot of wiggle room in our short seasons this year,” Smith said.

With opponents flipped out, the hope is Coupeville football will still have a four-game schedule in this pandemic-shortened campaign.

After the opener, the Wolf gridiron squad is off until Friday, April 23, when it travels to Friday Harbor.

A road game at La Conner April 30, and a home contest May 8 versus Concrete comprise the pared-down schedule.

As we transition from spring sports into traditional fall sports, info on how fan seating will be handled for football, volleyball, and soccer will be released later this week, Smith said.

 

UPDATE — 3/30 @ 2:45 PM:

Volleyball start times changed to 11 AM for JV and 12:30 PM for varsity. So no conflict.

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