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Brazilian foreign exchange student Julia Borges built a substantial fan club during her time in Coupeville. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Gone, but never forgotten.

Julia Borges was only in Coupeville for a single school year, but she made a positive impression on everyone she met.

Facing culture shock, as the Brazilian native left São Paulo, the most populous city in the Western hemisphere, only to land smack-dab in the middle of Cow Town, USA, she responded by embracing every challenge.

During her year (2015-2016) as a foreign exchange student, Julia jumped headfirst into everything Coupeville offered.

A dancer, she joined the CHS cheer squad, taking advantage of an opportunity not generally offered in her own country.

“It is not common to have cheer-leading teams in Brazil, so that is a different experience that all the Brazilian girls would like to have,” she said back in the summer of 2015.

“I love dancing and I have been practicing it in Brazil since I was a child, so being a cheerleader is similar.”

Julia caught on so quickly, she cheered for her new classmates through both football and basketball season, and was selected as Most Improved by her coaches.

When the spring came around in 2016, she picked up a tennis racket and headed to the courts.

Along with two seasons as a cheerleader, Borges also played tennis for the Wolves.

There she proved to be a perfect doubles partner, teaming up with Julianne Sem to form a dangerous duo for a Wolf net squad which won a league title.

What always impressed me the most about Julia during her time in Coupeville was her quiet strength and how she showed kindness to all, whether they were teammates or foes.

Going from a home of 19 million people to a town of less than 1,900 had to be a huge transition.

Like all foreign exchange students, Julia would have been dealing with language barriers and perhaps some home sickness.

She responded by bringing out the best in those around her by simply being herself, a truly lovely young woman.

Julia might not have set any sports records while she wore the red and black of Coupeville, but she was a winner in every way.

She got the most out of her life-changing experience, and left behind a legion of fans.

While she might be a world away from Whidbey Island these days, Julia will always be a vital part of Wolf Nation – her serene spirit lighting up the universe.

So today we want to induct Miss Borges into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, to insure she always knows how highly everyone here regards her.

After this, if you stroll past the Legends tab at the top of the blog, you’ll find her there, a true Wolf, now and forever.

Thank you, Julia, for visiting our lil’ chunk of the globe and making it a much-better place while you were here.

As you become a soaring success out there in the world, always know you have two hometowns – the one where you were born, and the one that has adopted you as one of our own.

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Julia Borges (John Fisken photos)

Julia Borges cheered on the Wolves through two seasons. (John Fisken photos)

Borges and teammates Jazmine Franklin (left) and McKenzie Bailey listen to Wolf tennis coach Ken Stange during an early practice.

   Borges and teammates Jazmine Franklin (left) and McKenzie Bailey listen to CHS tennis coach Ken Stange during an early, blustery practice.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

As she nears the end of her year on Whidbey Island, Brazilian foreign exchange student Julia Borges is fondly looking back at her time on The Rock.

After arriving from Sao Paolo, she immediately became a huge part of Wolf Nation, joining the Coupeville High School cheer squad, where she participated through football and basketball season.

When the spring arrived, Borges picked up a racket and joined the Wolf girls’ tennis team, teaming up with Julianne Sem to form a dangerous doubles duo.

With her run as a CHS athlete having reached an end, Julia took a few moments to reflect on the experience for us:

Last week was my last week playing for the tennis team and I already miss it so much!

I can definitely say I had the best experience I could have with both activities I joined this year: doing cheer or playing tennis, both with awesome teammates and amazing coaches.

Coupeville can be a small school, but the dedication, hard work and love everyone puts into sports are the biggest ones I have seen.

It is awesome how most of the students are involved in at least one sport during the year and they all really care about it.

It can be something very normal here, but it does not happen everywhere.

This is one in a hundred reasons about why I love Coupeville so much.

It is going to be hard to leave all of this in a month, the place I can call my home!

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Payton Aparicio, seen here in an earlier match, teamed with Sage Renninger to roll to a win at first doubles Monday. (John Fisken photo)

   Payton Aparicio, seen here in an earlier match, teamed with Sage Renninger to roll to a win at first doubles Monday. (John Fisken photos)

Julia Borges

   Julia Borges, here enjoying a moment with fellow foreign exchange student Santiago Ortiz, was on fire on the court Monday.

Who’s the big school now?

Ignoring the disparity in their student bodies, 1A Coupeville went out and drilled 2A Sequim Monday in a battle of tennis titans.

Playing on a surprisingly toasty Whidbey afternoon, the hometown Wolves strolled to a 6-1 non-conference victory over the visiting Wolves, lifting their season record to 9-3.

CHS will close the regular season with a home match against Chimacum Wednesday, then head to the league tourney May 10.

Facing off with a school that came in with a 9-5 record of its own, Coupeville slammed the gas pedal down hard, ripping through its first four matches in near-record time.

Whether it was Valen Trujillo ripping off winners from the baseline, Sage Renninger launching epic moon-balls or Julia Borges having the match of her life, painting the corners of the court with a variety of dazzling shots, the Wolves were red hot.

Complete results:

Varsity:

1st singlesValen Trujillo won 6-2, 6-3

Valen faced a hard-hitting but streaky opponent,” said Coupeville coach Ken Stange. “She was very steady, able to break her opponent’s serve at the right times. After a mid-season rough patch, she’s found her groove.”

2nd singles Sydney Autio won 6-1, 6-1

Sydney was on and off the court in the blink of an eye.

“Her opponent was a hard hitter, which Sydney loves. She mixed blistering pace with soft touch.

“She’s come up huge for us, all season long. I can’t wait for her to play in the league tourney, where I anticipate she will meet her teammate (Valen) in the finals.”

3rd singlesBree Daiugneault lost 6-2, 6-1

1st doubles Sage Renninger/Payton Aparicio won 6-3, 6-1

“They flat out dominated their opponents. They took advantage of our back fences being so close to the baseline by hitting lobs that were high and deep, leaving their opponents unable to get a racket on the ball. They were masters of the situation today.”

2nd doublesMcKenzie Bailey/Jazmine Franklin won 6-2, 6-0

“They were the dominant Salt N Pepa combo that has produced huge wins for two years.

“They were loose, they hit hard, and they had a lot of fun out there. I just adore their ability to take their foes out behind the woodshed for a serious beating!”

3rd doublesMaggie Crimmins/Kameryn St Onge won 8-5 (pro set)

“These two, after a rough start to the season, have really found their groove.

Kam plays consistent, while Maggie loves to hit the ball with a great deal of pace.

“I can see her confidence beginning to bubble up to the surface. It’s perfect timing, too. We will need it moving forward!”

4th doublesJulia Borges/Julianne Sem won 6-1, 3-2 (match called for ferry)

“Both of them played with a consistency that befuddled their foes. They too have peaked at the right time.”

JV:

1st singlesKenzi LaRue won 6-0

Kenzi absolutely dominated her opponent.

“She came up big, like she did against Chimacum, when she provided the deciding point in the win.”

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One birthday, three transcendent stars. CHS supernovas (clockwise, from left) Mattea Miller, Arisbeth Montiel, Julia Borges. (John Fisken photos)

   One birthday, three transcendent stars. CHS supernovas (clockwise, from left) Mattea Miller, Arisbeth Montiel and Julia Borges. (John Fisken photos)

We are in a golden age of female athletics in Coupeville.

Now sure, there are a lot of very talented male athletes as well. But, as a group, the women are kicking butt and taking names.

From last year’s league title winning girls’ basketball and tennis squads on down, the young women who wear the red and black at CHS are a talented, confident bunch.

And today is a magical day in which three bright shining stars all share a birthday, united by currently calling Cow Town home and by their general awesomeness.

Julia Borges is the newest addition, having arrived from Brazil to spend a year on The Rock as a foreign exchange student.

Already she is front and center with the Wolf cheer squad, her radiant smile beaming out as she joins in with her teammates during football games.

There is little rhyme or reason to where foreign exchange students are sent to, but, once again, we hit the jackpot by getting one of the best available.

Julia has been an outstanding addition to Wolf Nation, one who will always be a part of our little world, even after she heads home to the big city.

Joining her in celebrating her day of cake is Arisbeth Montiel, a two-way terror who joins Borges on the Wolf cheer squad while also being one of the leading goal scorers for the Coupeville girls’ soccer squad.

Whether she’s banging home scores on the soccer pitch, where she teams up with Kalia and Mia Littlejohn to form a potent trio putting the fear of God into opposing goalies, or working the pom poms, Arisbeth is another stellar addition to a group of Wolf female athletes taking the world by storm.

And capping our birthday trio is the legend herself, Mattea Miller, the Alaskan Assassin, who has sparkled in so many sports it’s hard to keep count.

Soccer, basketball, track. She can do it all and more, and remains, like best friend Valen Trujillo, the gold standard for student/athletes at CHS.

Mattea has never been one to shout and scream and thump herself on the chest. Instead, she is the athlete who quietly does whatever is necessary, the dirty work or the star work, and sparkles at it all.

If they come to us and say, go pick someone who your town can hold up proudly, as an athlete, but even more so, as a person, a young woman of class and determination, who always shows love for her family and friends, someone who is worthy of being hailed for her character and her sweet nature, someone who will fight on the field but embrace others afterwards, Miller accomplishes all of that.

She is one of the special ones.

As all three of these young women — top scholars, feisty athletes, special people — celebrate their cake day, we want to wish them the best.

Arisbeth, Julia, Mattea, you make this town better for your presence. May your day sparkle as much as you all do.

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Julia Borges

Julia Borges (Photo courtesy Borges)

Coupeville cheer will have a Brazilian accent this year.

This addition of foreign exchange student Julia Borges adds a big city touch to small town athletics.

The newest Wolf hails from São Paulo, the most populous city in the Western hemisphere and the 13th biggest in the entire world.

Estimates of the population run from 11-19 million (depending on whether you count the metropolitan area surrounding the city).

And now Borges will call Coupeville, with a population of less than 1,900, home for the next school year.

The quiet, and the weather, have been the biggest transitions so far.

“I was afraid to live in a town so different from Sao Paulo, but I am adjusting so well here!,” Borges said. “My host family is so nice and everyone I have already met is nice and helpful too!

“That is the biggest surprise I had and my biggest challenge here is the cold weather, which I am not used to.”

Borges has many supporters back home (“I have a big family with a lot of cousins and relatives”) and their faith in her made it easier to travel around the globe.

“I always wanted to be an exchange student and my family always supported that idea!,” Borges said. “I intend to improve my English, to be more independent, to meet new people and to have a different experience!”

Like most foreign exchange students, she had no idea where she would end up, but she’s quickly adjusting to the culture shock.

“Coupeville was a surprise destination and now I am sure it is the perfect town for my exchange!,” Borges said. “Everybody here is so friendly and nice!”

While she’s never been a cheerleader before, Borges, who hopes to also play tennis for CHS in the spring, has been a dancer for most of her life, which should help.

“It is not common to have cheer-leading team in Brazil, so that is a different experience that all the Brazilian girls would like to have,” she said. “I love dancing and I have been practicing it in Brazil since I was a child, so being a cheerleader is similar.”

Borges also plays the piano and enjoys movies and music. After her year in America, she plans to return to her home country and study architecture.

And, while her Coupeville odyssey is just beginning, she already has plans for return visits.

“I intend to come back here later and visit everyone from Coupeville that I will miss so much!”

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