Posts Tagged ‘Jim Waller’

Whidbey News-Times Sports Editor Jim Waller (right) shares a chat with CHS girls basketball coach David King. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The adults are back.

After three months-plus with no sports coverage, the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record have returned the dean of local sportswriting to his desk.

Longtime Sports Editor Jim Waller was one of several employees who accepted a furlough back in March as the COVID-19 pandemic threw the newspaper industry into turmoil.

His last stories, a profile of Coupeville three-sport star Scout Smith and a piece on South Whidbey soccer announcer Crispin Roberts, posted to the internet March 24.

After that, my former high school journalism teacher lived the home life of “honey to-do lists”, leaving Whidbey sports fans with only my hyperventilating to get by on.

That changed as of Monday.

Waller has been at the core of Whidbey Island sports since his birth, as a player, teacher, coach, and writer.

He was born into the life, one of the sons of revered local coach Mert Waller, who led all four Coupeville High School programs (football, basketball, baseball, and track), before moving into similar positions in Oak Harbor.

Jim Waller was a standout athlete who went on to teach and coach multiple sports at OHHS.

Of the two people writing about sports on Whidbey, he is the only one to be a member of a real Hall of Fame, honored in 2001 by the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Waller led the OHHS baseball program for 30 years, taking the Wildcats to the Class 3A state title game.

A graduate of the University of Washington, he is in his second go-round with Whidbey’s newspapers.

Waller first wrote for the News-Times as a youngster, then returned to the post after retiring from the Oak Harbor School District.

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Barbi Ford enjoys quality grandma time during a recent basketball game. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

CHS girls hoops coach David King (left) offers Whidbey News-Times Sports Editor Jim Waller tips on his jump shot.

Wolf cheerleader Kaley Grigsby enjoys her evening.

Four shooting stars momentarily sitting still – l to r, it’s Koa Davison, Derek Leyva, Natalie Hollrigel and Sarah Wright.

Defensive dynamo Tia Wurzrainer replenishes her body’s nutrients after a night of terrorizing her foes on the hardwood.

Heidi Meyers, a hot second away from breaking free and dropping the greatest flute version of “Welcome to the Jungle” you’ve ever heard.

Sherry Roberts, forever keeping an extra eye in the back of her head to monitor lil’ brother Danny Bonacci, in case shenanigans break out.

Volleyball stars (l to r) Emma Smith, Maya Toomey-Stout and Ashley Menges, the first people to ever make Coupeville’s bleachers look semi-comfortable.

Sometimes John Fisken is almost too productive.

Almost. I said almost.

Whidbey’s top-ranked paparazzi gave me so many glossy pics the first time he hit a Coupeville High School basketball doubleheader last week, I wasn’t able to use all the side pics immediately.

So, here you go, a few days down the road, some more snappy pix capturing Wolf fans, the band, cheerleaders and cute babies.

Always with the cute babies, cause page views.

Probably should have started a blog called cutebabies.com and not Coupeville Sports back in 2012…

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Cole Payne (John Fisken photos)

   Senior catcher Cole Payne is a rock behind the plate for the Wolves. (John Fisken photos)

Matt Hilborn

Freshman Matt Hilborn tossed a perfect seventh in his high school debut.

First games are tricky things.

When you’re a brand new coach stepping on the field for the first time, you can never fully know what to expect.

Jim Waller, currently the Sports Editor at the Whidbey News-Times, got ten-runned during his first game at the helm of the Oak Harbor High School baseball squad.

30 years, 300+ wins and one induction into the Washington State High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame later, and he recovered quite nicely.

Still, he remembers that game like it was yesterday.

Will the same hold true for Marc Aparicio?

Only time will tell.

The Coupeville High School grad, who once starred on the diamond for the Wolves, made his official debut Monday as their new head coach.

Like Waller, he took a loss, but this one was a tense one-run affair that ended with the tying run just 90 feet away.

Unfortunately for Aparicio and Coupeville, even though they got Joey Lippo to third with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, they couldn’t bring him home, letting Sultan slide away with a 6-5 non-conference win on Opening Day.

Fielding a very young squad — the Wolves had three freshmen and three sophomores in the starting lineup — CHS still came out aggressively.

Cole Payne, one of only two senior starters, knocked in sophomore Hunter Smith in the first to stake Coupeville to a 1-0 lead.

After falling behind 2-1, the Wolves rebounded with their best effort in the third, plating four base-runners, with the big hit, a double, coming from freshman Dane Lucero.

Coupeville couldn’t hold the lead, though, giving up three in the fourth to tie things up, then surrendering a go-ahead run in the fifth.

The Wolves made a bid to send the game into extra innings with a strong final inning.

After freshman reliever Matt Hilborn retired the side one-two-three in his debut, Lippo led off the bottom half of the seventh with a shot that was bobbled by a Turk defender.

Eventually perched on third, he was stranded, however, as Sultan’s hurler closed the game with a pair of strikeouts packaged around a come-backer.

While his squad lost, Aparicio came away largely happy with what he saw in his first go-around.

“We had a couple of errors in the beginning but recovered well,” he said. “I thought we got strong pitching from CJ (Smith), Hunter and Hilborn.

“My philosophy is to have us be aggressive on the bases and we were,” he added. “We missed a few signals, but we’ll work on that.”

Coupeville will hop right back into the thick of things with a home-and-away non-conference series against Concrete. Wednesday’s game (4:15 PM) is on Whidbey, followed by a road trip Friday.

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Don't tell anyone, but I shared some of the cookies liberated

  Don’t tell anyone, but of the hundreds of cookies I received this spring from CHS moms, a few were shared with my Whidbey News-Times “rival.” (Shelli Trumbull photo)

It’s true — I like to poke the Evil Empire up in Canada that owns the three Whidbey newspapers.

And yes, I once cashed checks from them back in my misbegotten youth. We all have our youthful indiscretions.

But never think that I am poking the guy who is doing the same job for those papers that I am, covering sports.

Jim Waller, the Sports Editor of the Whidbey News-Times (whose articles also run in the shadow paper that calls itself the Whidbey Examiner) was my high school journalism teacher during the extra semester I spent at Oak Harbor High School after my dad moved us out of Tumwater mid-way through my senior year (long story).

He is the person most directly responsible for my journalism career — and a lot of my editors since that point would like to have a long discussion with him about that, outside, behind the building, about now — getting me in the door of the News-Times at 18.

I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Waller, as a teacher, as a Hall of Fame high school baseball coach and as a journalist.

The man is a consummate pro, the quiet, elegant flip side of the coin to my frequently hyperventilating, gossipy Dennis the Menace approach to sports coverage.

With that being said, I just wanted to direct you to something he wrote recently. It was timed to Father’s Day, but it slipped past me somehow and I just noticed it the other day.

It’s a reflection piece on the life and times of his dad, Mert Waller, maybe the single most influential coach to ever work on Whidbey Island.

My path crossed with the senior Waller during his later days, when he had moved to being an assistant baseball coach for his son on Wildcat teams that I covered for the News-Times.

He was a class act through and through, a great guy, and that comes through vividly in the article Mr. Waller wrote.

Go take a look at it. It’s well worth your time.


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