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After a long run as Coupeville High School coaches, Amy and David King are still adjusting to “retirement.” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They finally got a real vacation.

When Coupeville High School girls basketball coaches David and Amy King resigned last winter, it brought at least a temporary end to their run as coach “lifers.”

The duo, who put in seven seasons with the CHS hoops program, had also worked with high school softball, baseball, and volleyball, as well as community programs and individual player coaching.

All told, the Kings had been coaching for close to two decades.

That meant celebrating their wedding anniversary at the gym – since it fell during basketball season – and juggling their coaching gigs with real-world jobs.

Now, they’re footless and fancy free (mostly), are coming off their first real vacation since 2001, and are adjusting to a new lifestyle.

As they marinate in a world of possibilities, they took a moment to reflect on life without a clipboard or basketball in hand.

Cause they may be free, but they can never really escape my emails.

So, straight from casa de King:

When we announced our coaching retirement at the end of this last season, it was amazing how many people asked us “how’s retirement?” within a few weeks of that retirement date.

We also had to tell them, we still have our day jobs…

In reality, when a season ends, we (we all know Amy does the majority of the work) take care of inventory, putting things away, turning in our paperwork and locking things up for the off-season.

For basketball, there is a good month between the season ending and the starting of planning for the Hoop-A-Holics fundraiser and team basketball camp.

This year, we still helped with the Hoop-A-Holics fundraiser – making sure the new coaches understood what needed to happen and in what time frame, and we still participated, as the weekend is a lot of fun.

We knew we had retired only because we didn’t have to harass our players and parents for participation and food.

It still didn’t sink in though. It still just felt normal, but with extra help.

Normally, basketball camp would be the week following Hoop-A-Holics.

So the time and effort that would normally go into planning which camp we were going to and getting all the players set to go, arranging transportation and lodging, fundraisers, etc., went into working on a personal vacation towards the end of the summer instead.

We missed going to the camp, but not necessarily all the planning and organization that goes into that week.

Team camp has always been a favorite activity for us, spending time away from the school with the players, working on the team bonding and playing against teams that we would not normally see.

It is so much fun to spend camp time getting to see the girls goofy and together outside of the school season, along with seeing where we need work once the season starts.

Having the incoming players get their feet wet with the returning players and of course them learning about us and us about them.

After camp, there is normally an off time as the gyms are closed for refinishing the floors; but, there is the weight room time and planning for open gyms we would be involved with.

This is probably the one area that we saw a difference.

In years past we would go to work, get off and either head to the gym or home and then to the gym.

This year it was work and to home. No more afternoons/evenings being disrupted by stopping what we were doing to head to the gym.

During summer, we typically would start to review drills to teach skills and what kind of offenses will we think about running during the season, etc.

So, this summer, that extra time has been put into creating a new garden area that deer and rabbits can’t get into, David getting more time on his tractor and making paths in the woods and just a lot of normal day-job work.

We really have been so busy, that we have not had time to miss open gyms.

For me personally (David) I miss the time spent evaluating our teams’ strengths and weaknesses, along with evaluating the teams in our leagues.

The coaching part and seeing growth in the players are high on my favorite things about coaching.

Right up there with that for me is the strategy side of things and providing the tendencies of our team and our opponents. Hours would be spent on this stuff.

So, how is retirement?

😊

We really don’t know yet. It really won’t hit us until October when we aren’t gearing up for the season.

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Avalon Renninger is a vital part of Wolf girls tennis and basketball, the two most-successful CHS athletic programs during the Coupeville Sports days. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The girls rule Coupeville High School.

And before you offer an argument, it’s right there in black and white.

This blog launched August 15, 2012, which means it’s been in place for seven complete school years at this point.

In that time, the 10 CHS athletic teams which keep win/loss records have combined to post 19 winning seasons, with 14 of those coming from female athletes.

That’s 73.6%, so the argument is more than done (at least at this moment in time).

Those 10 sports (we’re not counting track or cross country, which operate in their own world of score-keeping) include five girls teams and five boys squads.

On the girls side, all five sports have at least one winning season during the run of Coupeville Sports, while three of the five boys teams have yet to break .500 between 2012-2013 and 2018-2019.

The last seven years have seen Coupeville compete in three different leagues.

Two final years in the 1A/2A Cascade Conference were followed by four years in the Olympic League, then the 2018-2019 school year kicked off the 1A North Sound Conference.

The years spent with Klahowya, Port Townsend, and Chimacum in the Olympic League were the sweet spot, as CHS captured the most league wins of any of the four schools, while claiming 14 of its 19 winning seasons.

Back in the company of private schools like King’s and Cedar Park Christian this past year, the Wolves took a step back, percentage-wise, but still claimed three winning campaigns.

That was one more than CHS totaled across its final two years of being hammered by Archbishop Thomas Murphy and Co. in the old Cascade Conference.

Looking at the results, there are several things which emerge.

The two CHS programs with the highest winning percentages from 2012-2013 to 2018-2019 — girls tennis and girls basketball — only had one coach during that time period.

Ken Stange, who has also guided boys tennis to the fifth-best mark, was already in place long before I left the Coupeville Examiner to start this blog, while girls hoop guru David King was hired right as it began.

Girls tennis holds down the #1 slot, despite taking a step back the past two seasons, while volleyball and softball are rising up the rankings, with each having posted three-straight winning seasons.

Overall, counting league and non-league clashes, Coupeville has compiled a 482-667 record during my blogging days. That’s a .419 winning percentage.

Better than a lot of schools, but no one is going to call us a state powerhouse anytime soon.

As we head into a second season in the North Sound Conference, with the possible promise of a long-anticipated return to 2B a year from now, my hope is for the wins to keep trending upward.

If nothing else, that makes my job easier, and making my job easier is priority #1.

It’s not? Well, it should be.

 

Breakdown by sport:

 

Girls Tennis:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 9-3
2013-2014 6-7
2014-2015 11-3
2015-2016 10-3
2016-2017 6-3
2017-2018 7-8
2018-2019 2-7
(51-34) .600

 

Girls Basketball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 6-16
2013-2014 10-13
2014-2015 15-7
2015-2016 16-6
2016-2017 15-6
2017-2018 8-14
2018-2019 9-10
(79-72) .523

 

Baseball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 10-12
2013-2014 14-11
2014-2015 9-10
2015-2016 10-12
2016-2017 11-9
2017-2018 15-6
2018-2019 7-14
(76-74) .507

 

Softball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 6-16
2013-2014 8-20
2014-2015 7-12
2015-2016 9-11
2016-2017 19-5
2017-2018 12-9
2018-2019 15-10
(76-83) .478

 

Boys Tennis:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 4-4
2013-2014 0-7
2014-2015 4-5
2015-2016 5-3
2016-2017 5-8
2017-2018 6-7
2018-2019 8-6
(32-40) .444

 

Volleyball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 4-13
2013-2014 3-12
2014-2015 1-11
2015-2016 6-10
2016-2017 11-6
2017-2018 13-5
2018-2019 11-5
(49-62) .441

 

Girls Soccer:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 1-16-0
2013-2014 2-14-0
2014-2015 6-7-1
2015-2016 6-7-3
2016-2017 8-7-1
2017-2018 8-9-0
2018-2019 2-12-1
(33-72-6) .324

 

Boys Soccer:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 3-14-0
2013-2014 5-10-2
2014-2015 3-11-0
2015-2016 5-9-1
2016-2017 4-11-1
2017-2018 7-9-2
2018-2019 6-10-0
(33-74-6) .319

 

Football:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 2-9
2013-2014 4-5
2014-2015 5-5
2015-2016 1-9
2016-2017 3-7
2017-2018 3-7
2018-2019 3-6
(21-48) .304

 

Boys Basketball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 1-21
2013-2014 3-17
2014-2015 7-13
2015-2016 9-11
2016-2017 3-17
2017-2018 7-13
2018-2019 2-16
(32-108) .229

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Ema Smith fires up the offense during a senior-season game. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Sister Ciara is part of a large fan club for the ever-outgoing star.

Ema in her natural environment, entertaining everyone around her.

“I’m kind of a big deal, you know.”

Ema Smith is one cool cat.

In a sea of high school athletes, she stood out for many reasons, but the biggest was her attitude.

Nothing seemed to ruffle her all that much, even when she was down on the floor rippin’ arms off as she came away with every loose ball, every wayward rebound.

Ema played with intensity, fought with passion, always showed great heart and a willingness to step up in the big moment, regardless of the sport, but she never lost the grin.

The half-smirk, the wink and a nod to her coach, the whispered one-liner, complete with arched eyebrow, that made a tense teammate relax.

She is the closest thing Coupeville has to having its own Matthew McConaughey.

Talent carries you a certain distance, hard work takes you the rest of the way, but attitude – how you conduct yourself, how you handle your business – is what sets true legends apart from the crowd.

It’s what makes the people in the stands remember you always.

And no one is going to forget Ema anytime soon.

She arrived in town as a middle schooler, red hair flashing in the sun as she leaned out the passenger window of the family car, firing off finger guns at passerby and intoning “Alright, alright, alright.”

OK, maybe not, but Ema did become part of the fabric of Wolf athletics in less than 2.1 seconds, immediately contributing to every team she played on.

From the softball diamond, where she was a hard-hitting warrior until injuries slowed her roll (but just a bit), to the soccer pitch, the track oval, and the basketball hard-court, she was a star who soared even higher by being willing to accept her role.

That carried over off the field, where Ema has been one of the quickest to embrace younger athletes coming up behind her.

When she couldn’t take the softball field herself, she stepped into the dugout and worked as a volunteer with little league squads.

During her own basketball season, Ema worked the scorer’s table at middle school games, offering advice and (frequent) hugs to the girls who would one day replace her in the CHS lineup.

Theses days she’s the swim instructor with the biggest fan club, spreading the love some more in the weeks leading up to her departure to college.

Of course, there’s her photo game, as well, where Ema excelled as both a subject and the person operating the camera.

She shot a ton of photos across several Booster Club Crab Feeds, and they showcased an already-assured eye.

Some people just point and click, but Ema is already telling stories with her camera. She knows how to draw out her subjects, and captures images which captivate the viewer.

Put her in front of the camera, and she rivaled all-time greats like the “Photo Bomb Queens” themselves, McKayla, McKenzie and Mollie Bailey.

Ema never met a photo she couldn’t be a part of, on or off the field, and losing her to college is a major blow for Coupeville Sports as it hunts for those sweet, sweet page views.

Of course, at the top of all of this, is her performance while in uniform.

If her body had held up, Ema could have played a crucial role for a CHS softball program which has reached new heights in recent years.

But, while that wasn’t meant to be, her impact on the Wolf basketball squad can’t be denied.

A deft passer, a strong rebounder, and a defender with a nice little chip on her shoulder, Ema could also put the ball in the basket on a regular basis.

While playing with top-notch scorers like Lindsey Roberts and Mikayla Elfrank limited her touches at times, she always stepped up and took advantage of her opportunities.

A deadly threat from behind the three-point arc, Ema carried the team for a stretch during her senior season, especially when a crunched finger sent Roberts to the ER.

That injury came in a game down in the wilds of Sultan, a contest Coupeville desperately needed to win, to snap a losing skid and hold on to a top playoff slot.

Roberts was hospital-bound, the Turk fans were shaking the roof of the gym, the Wolves needed a spark, and whammo, Miss Cool Cat picked up the ball and went to work.

Scoring six of her game-high 14 in the fourth, Ema drilled a jumper, flipped a running layup through a maze of defenders, then banked home another bucket while three Turks hung all over her.

A big-time performance delivered under the blazing glare of the spotlight, it lifted CHS to a season-defining win.

By the time she finished, Ema retired with 228 career points, making her the #48 all-time scorer in modern Wolf girls hoops history, a period which stretches from 1974-2019.

But, as shown in the Sultan game, it wasn’t how many points she scored, but when she scored them.

And that we know, that, after that game, she probably fist-bumped every single person in the Sultan gym, including the locals, as she exited, mega-grin on her face, enjoying every last moment.

Ema is truly a one-of-a-kind person, both as an athlete and a young woman, and she will go far in life.

That we here in Central Whidbey got to experience a slice of her story was sweet. As she gets ready to go write the next chapter, we want to take a moment to honor her.

Her induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame today is based on many things.

Ema has stats, she has talent, she has fight and desire, but, most of all, she’s got that elusive quality that makes someone truly memorable.

After this, when you look at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, she’ll be easy to find.

She’ll be the one everyone else gravitates toward, cause she’s a star, baby. Now and forever.

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Maya Lucero keeps busy with a wide variety of activities, from playing three sports to participating in drama, band, and Girl Scouts. (Photos courtesy Jess Lucero)

Catching some quality time with dad Aaron on the softball diamond.

“I’m super busy, but I thrive on that.”

Try and keep a list of everything Maya Lucero does, and you’ll eventually end up flipping the paper over and still be writing.

Let’s just say Lucero, who will join twin sister Allie as freshmen at Coupeville High School this fall, likes to stay active.

She played basketball, volleyball, and softball through middle school and before, and plans to remain a three-sport athlete as she switches out CMS uniforms for CHS ones.

Toss in appearing in theater productions, playing trumpet in the band, Girl Scouts, cooking and baking, playing with her dog, going to the beach, and hanging out with friends and family, and Lucero’s schedule is booked.

But staying busy has helped her build a strong work ethic, something which has benefited her greatly in the past, and should continue to do so in the future.

“Some of my strengths as an athlete include my focus, commitment to my sports, and loyalty to my teammates and coaches,” Lucero said. “Being so dedicated is important, but not always easy.

“I always honor my obligations for team practices, volunteer work, training, and camps.”

That includes a recent four-day basketball camp in Soap Lake, “so I couldn’t submit my answers to you until now…,” she said with a laugh.

Lucero, who is following in the footsteps of older bother Dane, a 2019 Coupeville grad who was also a three-sport star, has been around athletics her entire life.

Dad Aaron is an assistant coach with the CHS baseball team, who pulled double duty this spring, working with Maya and Allie’s Central Whidbey Little League Juniors softball squad.

With the Lucero sisters ripping base-knocks to all fields, the young Wolves roared through a 13-1 season, and now will send a ferocious pack of hit-happy players on to the high school program.

Maya wants to “work my way to varsity, and to become stronger as an athlete,” and she credits her father with helping to shape her and fuel her dreams, both on and off the field.

“My dad has had one of the greatest impacts on me as a person and an athlete,” Lucero said. “He always pushes me to be my best, and has taught me mental toughness, perseverance, and determination.

“From the start, he has always supported me, led me through difficult times, and has always been at my side,” she added. “He is an amazing dad and softball coach.”

Lucero hails from a tight-knit, super-friendly family which includes mom Jess and two younger sisters, and having a large, loyal support crew is huge for the young Wolf.

Allie has also always been at my side and has always been there for me, no matter how hard things get sometimes,” Maya said. “Overall, my family has helped me to be my best self, and has always supported me and my passions.”

Lucero loves that sports allows her to be “active and competitive.”

And, while she approaches every season with joy, she’s clear – her #1 passion is being on the diamond every spring.

“Without a doubt, softball is my favorite sport of all,” Lucero said.

She’s played school and SWISH basketball, as well as school and club volleyball, but put a bat in her hand and she’s at home.

“It has been one of my greatest passions. I have been playing it since second grade, eight years old,” Lucero said. “I love softball because it’s not the type of sport that you can pick up easily.

“Softball is a difficult sport that teaches you determination, perseverance, to work hard, and to stay mentally tough. Not everyone can do that.

“I feel that softball is my strongest sport because I’ve played it longer, so I have a strong softball IQ.”

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CHS freshman Ryanne Knoblich, a one-woman wrecking crew. (Photos courtesy Suzan Georges)

Gwen Gustafson beats the defense and leads the charge.

New Wolf head coach Scott Fox dispenses wisdom.

Coupeville players and coaches enjoy being up at 6 AM on a summer day.

Jill Prince gets set down low.

Hannah Davidson (in headband) entertains the troops.

Trinity McGee (far left) and teammates wait for their turn to play.

Word (or photos) has arrived from the far-flung outpost.

Battling through low-rent WiFi, Coupeville High School girls basketball support staff have breached the internet desert, sending out pics from Soap Lake.

The Wolves are stationed in Grant County this week for a summer basketball camp, the first under new CHS coaches Scott Fox and Megan Smith.

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