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Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame’

Payton Aparicio, coming to a Hall o’ Fame near you. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Maybe it was fate.

Payton Aparicio springs from a family rich in sports success, from her parents and grandparents to aunts and uncles and cousins galore.

From the Stuurmans trunk in the middle, to the Bepler and Aparicio branches folding around the base, the ol’ family tree is one of the strongest you will find in Coupeville athletics.

But, as talented as her relatives are, I’m going to go out on my own limb here and say Payton is the best the family has produced.

A soaring star in both volleyball and tennis, who could have been a basketball sensation as well if she hadn’t given up the sport after middle school, Ms. Aparicio is an extremely easy pick for induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

So, where that’s where we’re placing her today, as we swing open the doors and welcome her into our lil’ digital institution.

After this, you’ll find her at the top of the blog under the Legends tab, sharing space with dad Mitch.

Payton was somewhat deceptive as an athlete.

I know she worked hard, in practices and games, but she has a rare quality of making every action look effortless.

She was the very definition of smooth, regardless of the sport, almost catching you by surprise when you realized how much of an impact she was having.

And that impact was major.

When Aparicio was named Coupeville High School’s Female Athlete of the Year shortly before graduation last spring, it was a lifetime achievement prize in many ways.

Her senior athletic year had been beyond-solid, but when coaches voted, I am confident they were also looking back at the previous three years.

Remembering her precision, her power, and, this is huge, the manner in which she always carried herself.

Aparicio displayed a quiet confidence, rarely (if ever) appearing shaken by the magnitude of the moment.

Who knows if her brain was yelling madly and bouncing off the walls when she went to serve for a match. If so, she never let us see anything other than a serene, locked-in, spirit.

On the volleyball court, Aparicio could soar to the roof and smash with the best of them, while also being nimble enough to scrape dig after dig off the floor.

Her serving was impeccable, deadly and consistent, and she graduated with the school record for most aces in a single match.

From a freshman who blasted a ball into the rafters at South Whidbey, and got the ball to rest on a beam and never come back down (it may still be up there), to a senior who was team MVP on the first Coupeville squad to go to state in more than a decade, Aparicio was a quiet killer.

Her laser focus, mad skills, and assassin-like demeanor translated beautifully to the tennis court, as well.

From the moment they first stepped on the CHS court as freshmen, she and Sage Renninger were the #1 Wolf doubles duo, and they never, ever let anyone come close to taking their title.

Peppering foe after foe, they mixed precision shot-making with raw power, like when Aparicio pegged a rival with a match-winning shot, inflicting physical and emotional pain with one superbly-placed smash.

The duo ended their tennis, and high school careers, with a 4th place finish at the state tourney, winning three of four matches in the Eastern Washington heat.

Their only loss was a tough three-set affair against a private school duo who went on to win a second-straight title, and no one in the tourney came closer to upending the champs than Aparicio and Renninger.

The 4th place finish was the second-best in CHS tennis history, behind just Mindy Horr and Taniel Lamb’s 2nd place showing in 2005, and it’s fitting all four of those standout netters now share space in the Hall o’ Fame.

When I look back on Payton’s prep sports career, I see talent, I see commitment, I see accomplishment, I see a young woman who always put team first.

What do I see? I see one of the best to ever wear a Wolf uniform, that’s what I see.

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Sage Renninger, the newest addition to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Underrated in the extreme.

Over the past four years, Sage Renninger has been, without a doubt, one of the best athletes to wear a Coupeville uniform.

Graceful, hard-nosed, a quiet warrior who let her play do the talking for her, she carved out her own path, and it was a very successful one.

Having given up basketball after middle school, Renninger showcased her athletic skills a bit off the beaten track, starring in soccer and tennis.

The first of those is a sport in which my base of knowledge is, admittedly, limited.

I don’t understand a lot of the intricacies of the “beautiful game,” and often times revert back to frustration over the sport being satisfied with ties, and the number of times a play is just starting to get interesting, only to have the ball nick a random knee and shoot out of bounds.

I am not the person who is going to sit here and rhapsodize about the mystical joy of fútbol.

That being said, I can, and do, appreciate the level of commitment it takes to even play the sport, much less be a star.

And Renninger was a true star on the pitch.

Through four years in a Wolf uniform, which culminated with being a captain her senior year, she was as steady as they come.

Renninger could net you goals (the one part of soccer idiots like myself understand), but she was also a rock for Coupeville, controlling the pace and flow of the game.

She didn’t scream and holler, at least not on the pitch, but her teammates leaned in to hear her words, and they responded.

It takes a deft hand to be a true leader on a sports team, to command respect with your play, your attitude and an unshakable belief that you and your teammates will find a way to success, no matter the odds.

Few leaders have been as effective, or as well-liked by their teammates, as Renninger.

So, while I freely admit I don’t always understand soccer on a deeper level, I do recognize greatness, and there is no doubt in my mind Sage is one of the best the CHS girls program has been blessed to claim as one of its own.

Her other sport, tennis, is exactly the opposite, and exactly the same.

It’s the opposite, in, that having played the sport myself during my Tumwater High School days, I see the strategy behind the shots and have a far greater base of knowledge and appreciation for what is playing out.

And it’s the same, because Renninger, just as she did on the soccer pitch, was a serene, high-achieving wonder on the hard court.

She and partner Payton Aparicio were the #1 doubles team from the moment they first stepped on the court as freshmen, and they never let the crown slip from atop their heads.

Over the course of four years, they were, quite simply, the gold standard, the best Wolf duo since Mindy Horr and Taniel Lamb came within a handful of points of winning the 2005 state championship.

Renninger, who brought a potent mix of power and pace to the court, possesses a rare intangible which is often found in top tennis players.

In short, she abided.

By that, I mean, she never got too high when success came her way, and never got too low when defeat made a rare appearance.

Watching Renninger exit the court after a match, whether during her freshman season or her senior campaign, it always looked the same.

Perhaps a small smile, sometimes a more-enthusiastic racket bump with Aparicio, but always under control, always giving little away to her opponents.

She circled her foes like a shark, and watch a shark as it moves – there is often a calmness to its movements right before an attack.

When the death ‘n destruction came, her racket snapping off winners, Renninger was brutally efficient, and it was beautiful to see.

She and Aparicio closed their prep careers this past spring with a phenomenal postseason run, eventually winning three of four matches at the state tourney and claiming 4th place.

The duo’s only loss was an epic three-set defeat, in which things were decided by just a handful of points, and came to the private school girls who would end the tourney with their second-straight state title.

Afterwards, Renninger shared the moment with Aparicio, with their families, and with CHS coach Ken Stange.

Having played two days in blazing heat, she looks tired but satisfied in photos from that day. She also looks, as she always did, like a winner.

Renninger didn’t always get the headlines others in her graduating class did, but she won as much respect from us as any Wolf of her generation.

So today, we open the doors to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, and welcome her into an elite fraternity.

In the days and months and years after this, you’ll find Renninger hanging out at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

Because that’s exactly what she was, in her own self-contained way – a legend.

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The real world has taken Ashlie Shank away from Coupeville, but she will always be a part of Wolf Nation. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Shank, back in the day, hanging with (l to r) Brisa Herrera, Emma Smith and Sarah Wright.

Not everyone gets the finish they deserve.

Ashlie Shank should be four days away from her first basketball practice at Coupeville High School, a season away from bouncing at the line with her relay teammates, stalking track and field glory, months from walking with them at graduation.

It’s the way it should be. But sometimes real life intrudes on the fairy tale.

You can’t fault her father, Dr. Jim Shank, for accepting a promotion and moving on to a far bigger school system. It’s the life of a Superintendent, especially one who truly makes a difference at each landing spot.

But I feel for Ashlie, who arrived in Coupeville as a middle school student and began her high school journey with the CHS Class of 2019.

Over the course of her time here, as two of her older siblings, brothers Matt and Brian, graduated from CHS, the youngest child in the Shank household made remarkable strides.

She found a band of friends, or, more realistically, sisters, and Ashlie grew into a more-confident young woman, in the sports world and outside of it.

On the basketball court, her quiet intensity paid off, as she became a go-to player for the Wolf JV – one who could, and would, step up and drill a game-winning shot at the buzzer.

Take a sec and go relive the moment at https://coupevillesports.com/2015/12/11/klahowya-you-got-shanked/

Her hustle, her work ethic, her commitment, was rewarded with a varsity jersey during her junior season, when she became a swing player.

If the Shanks hadn’t moved across the country, Ashlie would walk through the CHS gym doors this coming Monday intent on winning a full-time varsity slot. And it would have been one she earned.

In the track and field world, she made it to state in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200, winning respect from her teammates and coaches along the way.

At one point, I polled CHS coaches on the best athletes they had worked with, and this is what one had to say:

I feel that Ashlie Shank is the most underrated athlete that I coached.

This girl was a sleeper and for some reason it seemed that no one expected much from her, but she expected so much from herself and worked so hard to get to where she was before she left.

She was very consistent in her times and she continued to bring them down by working hard, harder than some of the best athletes on the team.

She was essential to her relays and amazing on her own. She knew how to push herself and find new limits every day.

I wish she could have stayed so I could’ve seen her senior season but I wish her the best for her senior year.

Other than writing about her on-field exploits, I had one other interaction with Ashlie during her time in Coupeville.

It came before a soccer playoff game at Oak Harbor’s stadium, when we both ended up in the press box during pre-game warm-ups.

It wasn’t a long conversation, but it reinforced my positive impression of Miss Shank.

She came across as a bright, well-spoken young woman, highly intelligent, fiercely loyal to her friends, with a good sense of humor and a quiet strength at her core.

What I witnessed in person matches what others have said about her, and what I observed from afar at her games.

I have no doubt Ashlie will do well, wherever she is, another winner from a family which has my admiration and respect for how they conduct themselves, and what they accomplish.

Still, a part of me wishes she could have had the chance to end her high school days where she started them. Shoulder-to-shoulder with her sisters from other mothers.

So today, I want to do something, I want to make a small gesture, to let Ashlie know how much of an impact she made while she was on Whidbey Island.

How impressed we were, and are, with the strong, intelligent, highly-motivated young woman who graced Cow Town for a few years.

To remind her that even when life takes you away, you will not be forgotten.

Induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, with a rare few exceptions, isn’t usually granted until after you graduate.

Today, we’re making an exception.

In the end, her diploma will likely come from another school, it’s true.

But, after today, when you scroll to the top of the blog and peek under the Legends tab, you’ll find Ashlie Shank’s name right where it belongs.

One of us. Always and forever.

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Cameron Toomey-Stout, Hall o’ Famer? One of the easiest calls I’ve made. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The high-flying Toomey-Stout returns to Earth.

Camtastic being Camtastic.

He was the most unlikely of stars. And yet the most likely.

When Cameron Toomey-Stout was a freshman, he arrived on the football field barely tipping the scales at three digits. So, good thing 87 pounds of that was all heart.

As he grew, and outworked everyone expect maybe his own siblings, Camtastic went from being a novelty to one of the best athletes to ever wear a Wolf uniform.

So it should come as no surprise as to why we are here today, as we swing open the doors to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and welcome our newest addition.

After this, if you pop up to the Legends tab at the top of the blog, you’ll find Toomey-Stout right where he should be, rubbing elbows with the record-busters and name-takers.

On the gridiron, Toomey-Stout earned his playing time the old-fashioned way – he worked for it.

He was the point of the spear on special teams, the first man down the field and the first to light someone up, every dang time.

It wasn’t until younger brother Sean showed up, two years behind him, that Cameron finally had a teammate who could match him in hauling tail down the field on a kick or punt, and then inflicting damage on the would-be returner.

Watching the Toomey-Stout brothers race each other to the ball, two heat-seeking missiles unleashed, was one of the great pleasures of my sports-writing career.

Win or lose, in the lead or trailing by 40, the brothers made every special team play just that – special.

For Cameron, once he got on the field, he refused to come off, turning into a consistently-dangerous player on offense and defense to go with his special teams prowess.

In the backfield, he teamed with fellow Hall o’ Famer Hunter Smith to disrupt and deny the game plans of rival QB’s.

Toomey-Stout used his speed and his hops to pick off his fair share of passes while sharing space with Smith, who retired as the school’s all-time leading interception man.

Working together, they gave QB’s nowhere to throw that was safe, and always seemed on the verge of taking a pick six to the house.

As a receiver, Toomey-Stout was again the perfect complement to Smith, until injuries to both his running mate and his brother left Cameron as the last man standing during his senior season.

During the second half of the 2017 season, Coupeville QB Hunter Downes had one weapon left to deploy, and the elder Toomey-Stout fought valiantly while being double and triple-teamed.

Camtastic endured, fighting to the final play, out-leaping defenders, twisting his body into a pretzel, and pulling in pass after pass while knowing other teams had him in their cross-hairs.

If Toomey-Stout had any fears, he never, ever showed them once he pulled down his helmet and tightened his chin strap.

Throughout the history of CHS football, there are other players who, after their run was done, may have looked back and wondered what could of have been if they had worked harder, played more consistently or just been tougher.

With Cameron, when he walked off the field for the final time and hugged sister Maya, there were no lingering questions.

He truly gave everything he had, from day one to the final whistle.

And while football alone would have likely earned him his induction into the Hall o’ Fame, Toomey-Stout was a true three-sport man, one of just four from his class to play all 12 seasons as a high school athlete.

On the basketball floor, he was the glue that held things together. A hustler, a scrapper, a fight-for-the-ball-on-every play support guy who showed, late in his career, he could singe the nets when he wanted to let the ball fly.

Toomey-Stout could knock down a three-ball with a fluid shot, could zip a pass through a maze of arms and have it land right on the fingertips of a teammate, or out-muscle a rival six inches taller for control of the ball.

And through it all, through the sweat and the wear and tear, his hair remained, uncannily, the best in the biz. Which has to count for some extra credit.

When spring rolled around, Toomey-Stout, also a crack student in his small slice of down time, bounced from baseball to track and field.

On the diamond, he was a speed demon in the outfield and on the base paths, part of the first CHS baseball squad to win a league title in 25 years.

But the track, where he was joined by twin siblings Maya and Sean, offered Cameron the ideal way to flash his often-extraordinary physical skills.

Toomey-Stout closed his prep career with a burst of speed and derring-do, competing at the state track meet in three events – the triple jump, long jump and 4 x 100 relay.

He PR’d in the long jump and claimed a medal in the relay, leading off a unit which also included his brother.

But, as we mentioned at the start of this article, Cameron was always about more than just results.

It’s true, he put up some nice numbers, across all of his sports.

What we will remember him most for, though, is how he did it.

The way he pushed himself, every day, getting quicker, stronger, more efficient. The way he conducted himself, attacking with the same intensity in wins and losses.

Rival players, coaches and fans respected him as much as Wolf Nation did, the ultimate testament to the impact he made in his four years in a Coupeville uniform.

He carried the Toomey-Stout name with pride, always, but he fully earned the nickname Camtastic.

If you have a young son or daughter, a student/athlete with dreams of accomplishing great things, have them study Cameron’s career. Then have them emulate his passion, his will, his drive, his class, his style.

Model yourself after the best, to be the best.

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William Nelson was a four-year star in tennis and soccer during his days at Coupeville High School. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Consistency.

That was the trademark of William Nelson, and it was a trait he displayed on the tennis court, the soccer pitch and in the classroom.

Before he graduated last spring, the long ‘n lanky one was money in the bank for Coupeville High School sports teams.

Need a big play, or maybe just a small, but very significant, one?

Nelson was the go-to guy, never prone to thumping his chest or screaming about how great he was, just the ultimate cool professional who did his job (and everyone else’s) game in, game out.

There was a moment, a very brief moment, during a super-tense match as seniors, when he and lifetime doubles mate Joey Lippo tapped tennis rackets with 2% more enthusiasm than normal after winning a tough point.

It was the equivalent of another player ripping their jersey in half, then mooning the fans while sprinting around the court, waving a flag, screaming “U-S-A, U-S-A!!!”

Most times, Nelson was content to slightly arch an eyebrow or smile a half-smile after he had decimated his foes.

He knew he had reached into their chest cavity, ripped out their heart and shown it to them, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom“-style, and they knew it, too.

So, half-smile, nod and move on to the next thing on his to-do list.

If he had only played one sport, either soccer or tennis, Nelson would likely still be receiving induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

But, since he played both, and excelled so thoroughly in two very different worlds, it’s a slam dunk.

So, after this, when you travel up to the top of the blog and peek under the Legends tab, you’ll find Nelson there, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Wolf greats of yore.

And there is little doubt he deserves the honor.

As the heart and soul of the CHS soccer squad, Nelson was a four-time First-Team All-Conference player as a midfielder.

He combined deft moves, smooth speed and a willingness to get down and dirty while scrapping, and could be a solid goal scorer, a superb set-up man for other Wolf gunners, or a bit of both.

More more than most players, Nelson was quick to adapt his game to fit best with the skill sets of his teammates.

As players came and went during his four-year run on the CHS pitch, he adjusted how he played to better mesh with each new star, and never seemed to care whether his name was the one in the spotlight, or theirs.

What mattered most to Nelson, or at least that’s how it always seemed from the outside, was putting his team in a position to win.

He was an ideal captain, well-respected, a leader both by action and words, and his calmness carried over to many of his running mates.

Nelson wasn’t a pushover, at all. Exactly the opposite.

Try and elbow him, or kick him, or mess with his teammates, and he subtly responded, making sure you didn’t do it twice, while rarely drawing the wrath of the officials.

His quiet toughness carried over to the tennis courts, where he and Lippo (who will likely join him in the Hall o’ Fame in short order) perfectly synced up for a four-year run as doubles partners.

Two tall players with rock-solid hitting styles, who held their emotions largely in check while picking apart foes, they came within a point of making it to state as seniors, while anchoring the Wolf lineup day after day, year after year.

Longtime Coupeville tennis coach Ken Stange described Nelson as “silky smooth” and “pretty unflappable.”

Will and Joey played so many big matches through the years,” he said. “And they often drew a crowd when they played, which says a lot because tennis usually does not draw a crowd.”

Matinee idol, big game ace, serene superstar – they all describe Nelson.

And now you can add Hall o’ Famer to the list.

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