Posts Tagged ‘Kassie O’Neil’

Coupeville JV hoops coach Kassie O’Neil led her team to a rivalry win in her debut. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

She’s a winner at every level.

During her playing days, Kassie O’Neil dropped daggers on the hardwood, making rival teams cry and sparking Coupeville High School girls’ basketball teams to big victories.

Now that she’s moved to the bench, nothing has changed.

Making her debut as the Wolf JV girls coach Wednesday, O’Neil provided the game plan and her pack of hoops assassins responded, drilling host South Whidbey 27-21 in the season opener for both teams.

Bringing out a who’s-who of fans, including lil’ sis Katie Smith, a Wolf hoops legend in her own right, Killer Kassie will file this one away in her drawer of great memories.

“Definitely still riding on that winning high,” O’Neil said while basking in the afterglow.

“Proud of my girls.”

Coupeville opened strong and closed strong, turning a 7-2 lead after one quarter into a 15-8 advantage at the half.

While the Falcons put together a mini run in the third quarter, slicing their deficit to 18-13, the Wolves were too much for South Whidbey to handle down the stretch.

O’Neil got floor time for 11 players, with seven Wolves making the nets pop.

Desi Ramirez-Vasquez paced CHS with seven points, while Jada Heaton and Kierra Thayer backed her up with five apiece.

Coupeville’s attack was rounded out by solid scoring work from Madison McMillan (4), Teagan Calkins (3), Bryley Gilbert (2), and Skylar Parker (1).

Kassidy Upchurch, Kayla Arnold, Liza Zustiak, and Reese Wilkinson also saw floor time for the Wolves, who return to action this Saturday with a home game against Lakewood.

Tipoff time for the JV girls is 7:00 PM.

The bright future of Wolf basketball.

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“I’m just sayin’ Geno Auriemma would make a really good middle school basketball coach. We have some bake sales, and we get that salary paid, son!!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This is your moment. Seize it.

There are not one, but two, Coupeville Middle School girls’ basketball coaching positions open as the season rapidly approaches.

Kassie O’Neil bounced up to the high school, accepting the JV girls’ gig, while Kristina Forbes is resigning due to other obligations.

That leaves the CMS girls hoops program without any coaches, with the season set to start Jan. 23.

It’s basically a six-week job, with the eight-game campaign wrapping up Mar. 9, and you would have the chance to help shape the future of Wolf basketball.

Are you a former Coupeville basketball player looking to give back to where it all started? Bam!

Maybe a semi-retired coach who still gets that itch to be on the sideline? Boom!

Or just someone who has always longed to take the “seven seconds or less” offense and put it in the hands of 12-year-old girls, creating a gym-rattling, mind-fracturing attack guaranteed to blow up the scoreboard and exhaust the refs???

As mentioned before, this is your moment.

Seize it and let Haylee Armstrong and Tenley Stuurmans become the Steve Nash and Shawn Marion of the prairie.


PS — Athletic Director Willie Smith is also looking for middle school track and cross country coaches, as well as a high school girls soccer coach.

We’re just talking about basketball because it’s God’s chosen sport.


To peruse all coaching openings and apply, pop over to:


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Kassie O’Neil (far left) is the new CHS JV girls basketball coach. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

She’s changing gyms but remains a Wolf forever.

After a year with the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball program, Kassie O’Neil is crossing the hallway and joining the high school coaching staff.

One of the hardest-working Wolves to ever grace the hardwood back when she was dropping daggers, O’Neil is the new JV girls hoops coach for CHS.

She joins a program headed up by varsity coach Megan Smith and replaces Greg Turcott, who moved to Eastern Washington.

O’Neil’s hiring was confirmed Friday by Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith and will be official after school board approval.

The new girls JV coach once played on the same court where she’ll now pass on wisdom to a new generation.

Killer Kassie (second from left), during her playing days.

Part of a highly successful athletic family which includes siblings Kayla, Katie, and Kurtis, Killer Kassie was a hustler and a scrapper, a rebound and pass-first basketball player with an uncanny knack for draining big-time shots.

She cracked the CHS varsity basketball team near the end of her freshman season, making her debut with the top squad at the state tournament.

O’Neil, now a mother of a pack of boys, became a varsity captain in later seasons, topping the Wolves in rebounds and assists.

She also delighted in making the richniks at King’s shed sweet, sweet tears, twice knocking down buzzer-beating three-balls against the highly ranked Knights.

After high school, O’Neil played basketball at Whatcom Community College.

Now, as she preps for her newest challenge, she’s sky-high.

“I am so excited,” O’Neil said.

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The brain trust behind CMS girls basketball is (l to r) Kassie O’Neil, Kristina Forbes, Brooklyn Thayer, and Mandi Black. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Onwards and upwards.

The Coupeville Middle School girls basketball players continue to stand in the middle of the ring, dropping haymakers, even when facing rivals with much-more experience and floor time.

Tuesday brought Lakewood — which sends its players on to a 2A high school — to town for another rugged test for the Wolves.

How the day played out:



Ready for the spotlight.

“The girls continue to fight, get better, and focus on having fun while doing it.”

While Coupeville fell 41-6 to Lakewood, CMS coach Kassie O’Neil was appreciative of the effort she sees each time out.

Haylee (Armstrong), Brynn (Parker), Tenley (Stuurmans), Marin (Winger), and Liza (Zustiak) kept up their hustle all the way through,” she said.

“We know we aren’t the winningest team, but I think we’ll definitely be the most improved.”

Coupeville is scrambling to play catch-up with many of the off-Island hoops programs, which benefit from inheriting players who have already fine-tuned their skill-set.

“For most the girls on our team having only five weeks of basketball under their belts, I’m proud of how they go against girls who play year-round, for probably years until now,” O’Neil said.

“We have been outmatched in skill, but not in desire to play.”

Kierra Thayer, Armstrong, and Stuurmans each went for a bucket to account for Coupeville’s scoring.



A pack of strong young women.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my girls!!!,” said Wolf coach Kristina Forbes.

Coupeville’s second unit delivered its best offensive performance of the season, outscoring Lakewood in the second half during a 29-11 loss.

The Wolves set and reached two goals in this game, breaking their own “five-point scoring curse” and holding the visitors to under 30.

“My girls were excited to meet their goals for the game,” Forbes said. “My girls definitely have the drive to play hard.

“My girls are seeing just how important free throws are, with Ava Carpenter sinking her last two at the line!” she added.

“All of my girls hustled and let Lakewood know they weren’t about to mess around this time!”

Adeline Maynes tossed in a career-best five points to spark the Wolf offense, with Carpenter, Melanie Wolfe, and Rhylin Price each adding two points.

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Kassie (Lawson) O’Neil (right), here with sister Katie Smith, is back in the Coupeville gym, this time as a coach.

A heart of gold, but ice water in her veins.

One of the hardest-working Wolves to ever grace the hardwood, Kassie (Lawson) O’Neil delighted in destroying the dreams of ritzy private schools, and now she’s back to pass on knowledge to a new generation of hoops stars.

During her own school days, she was a hustler and a scrapper, a rebound and pass-first basketball player who also had an uncanny knack for draining big-time shots.

Now she’s the latest former Wolf to move into the coaching ranks at their alma mater, thanks to a decision to accept a gig working with the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball program.

O’Neil and Kristina Forbes, who kick off practice for a new season Monday, will be official when the school board approves their hires at its next meeting.

Having joined fellow CHS alums on the sidelines, O’Neil is ready to get to work.

“I am elated to begin coaching the Coupeville Middle School basketball team,” she said. “Mainly because that’s where my deep love for the game began.”

O’Neil debuted as a player in the same gyms where she’ll now coach, joining the basketball program when she hit 7th grade at CMS.

“My friends convinced me to try sports and I immediately fell in love with it and played any chance I could,” O’Neil said.

“Outside of our regular season, I played with the high school girls so that I could improve by playing against really outstanding players, such as the Black sisters — Lexie and Britt Jennifer Bailey, and Beth Mouw,” she added.

“These were the Coupeville stars I looked up to and tried to emulate in my early years.”

O’Neil, whose siblings — Kayla Lawson, Katie Smith, and Kurtis Smith — all joined her in successful runs as Wolf athletes, immediately showed a high degree of skill.

She cracked the varsity team near the end of her freshman season, making her actual debut with the top squad at the state tournament.

“Mind you, it was only the last few minutes of the game,” O’Neil said. “But man, it felt HUGE!”

Kassie (second from left, back row) during her high school days.

Continuing to pour her energy into the game, she became a varsity captain in later seasons, topping the Wolves in rebounds and assists.

“Passing has always been my thing!” O’Neil said with a big smile.

But while she was always looking to set her teammates up for success, she wasn’t afraid to step up and make rival teams miserable.

Especially if they hailed from ritzy private schools like King’s.

O’Neil twice won games against the high-flying Knights by knocking down buzzer-beating three-balls, a slight smile on her lips as the richniks shed sweet, sweet tears.

Both shots were epic, but the first one, like O’Neil herself, is immortalized by inclusion in the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

With King’s and Coupeville playing for a #1 playoff seed January 18, 2008, O’Neil had the ball in her hands, having taken a pass from Hayley Ebersole, the clock madly ticking down in overtime, and the Wolves trailing 32-30.

She was supposed to drive to the hoop and try and draw a foul, but instead Killer Kassie pulled up from the parking lot and banked home a game-winning trey, setting off a riot in a packed CHS gym.

Along with knocking off King’s a second time before she was done, O’Neil also had a game with Granite Falls where she scored 13 of her 19 points during a furious fourth-quarter comeback.

Her high school heroics continued to the next level, where she played basketball at Whatcom Community College.

“We practiced and scrimmaged with the Western Washington University team a couple of times, and I’ll never forget the level of play during those times,” O’Neil said. “It was a blast to be around such talented players.”

As much joy as basketball brought her, it wasn’t her only sport, as she also played volleyball, softball, and tennis — as long as the other sports didn’t conflict with hoops.

A mother of four rambunctious boys, O’Neil decided that with her youngest about to hit five, now would be an ideal time to pursue a long-held dream.

“I have always wanted to pursue coaching. It was a dream of mine while I was still playing back in high school,” she said. “I really feel that it is time to get back into something that fulfills me outside of motherhood.

“Basketball has been a constant love for me, so when I heard this position was available, I jumped on the opportunity immediately.”

Her biggest goal will be to help her players find the same joy on the court which filled her heart as a young woman.

“I’m ready to help a new generation of girls fall in love with the sport I care so much about,” O’Neil said. “My personal goal for this season is to instill a love for the game, just as it was instilled into me during my middle school years.

“Teaching these girls what it feels like to be part of something bigger than yourself.”

Sports can affect every part of a player’s life, something O’Neil embraces.

“I wasn’t the best academically,” she admits, but “basketball was what pushed me through school.”

“I also want to help them foster relationships with their teammates that last far beyond their Coupeville school days,” O’Neil added.

“I still talk to, hang out with, and care for many of the girls I played basketball with throughout the years. We pushed ourselves through physical pain and losses together, which made us stronger.

“Knowing that there is a group of people that have your back on and off the court was invaluable for me during my school years. I hope to give my team the same kind of comradery that kept me so drawn to team sports.”

“I called glass!”

O’Neil hopes this will be the start of a successful new journey, both for her as a coach, and for the young women she will mentor.

“I would love to keep being the middle school coach, helping girls get ready for the intensity of high school ball,” she said. “Giving them hope that there could be basketball after high school, too; even for us kids from small schools.”

Working alongside her fellow new coach, O’Neil will stress fundamentals, with an emphasis on teamwork.

“I want my players to take away team trust more than anything,” she said.

“I want them to understand what it means to sacrifice for your team, to be there for your team, to work hard for your team, and to win and lose with your team.”

And, once on the floor, she wants her girls to have confidence in themselves.

“I don’t want to teach robots who can memorize and execute plays, but players who can run a basketball up the court, see their options and play organically as they see fit,” O’Neil said.

“I really just want to give them the basic skills necessary to build their own style of play, while teaching them how being on a team relates to being part of our community as a whole.”

A woman who was born and raised in Coupeville — with deep prairie roots — O’Neil has been spotted at multiple Wolf basketball games this season.

Now, like CHS hoops coaches/fellow alums Megan Smith and Brad Sherman, Killer Kassie can fill up the gym with her own family, as well as former teammates and coaches, continuing to help build a Wolf hoops tree in full flower.

“This community is and always will be part of me,” O’Neil said. “This community, especially my coaches throughout the years, gave so much of their time and energy towards helping me on and off the court, through some of the most challenging times in my life.

“I hope that I can give even a fraction of that back to the girls I coach, and to the community that I love so much.”

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