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Posts Tagged ‘Legends’

Jeff and Cindy Rhubottom. (Contributed photos)

   A flashback to the days when Rhubottom terrorized Wolf rivals on the hardwood.

   The socks were extraordinary, and so was their ability to put the ball in the hoop.

“Respect yourself. Respect your school.”

Jeff Rhubottom was one of the best athletes to ever walk the hallways of Coupeville High School, and he lived by that credo.

A 6-foot-4 tower of power, the 1978 Wolf grad was a 12-time letter winner (four times each in football, basketball and track and field), a two-time All-Conference hoops player and the school record holder in the high jump for more than a decade.

While fellow football player Rich Wilson (6-4) nipped Rhubottom’s mark (6-2) in 2000 — and retains the school record 17 years later — Rhubottom’s legacy still looms large.

He torched the basketball nets for 459 points his senior season in 1977-1978, the second-best single-season mark ever put up a Wolf, boy or girl.

Over the course of four seasons, while sharing the ball with some of the biggest scorers and sweetest shooters in CHS hoops history, he finished with 1,012 points.

In 100 seasons of Wolf boys basketball, only Jeff Stone (1137), Mike Bagby (1104) and Rhubottom contemporary Randy Keefe (1088) have topped that.

While he enjoyed his other sports (he was a tight end/outside linebacker in football and a sprinter, relay runner and state meet-qualifying high jumper on the track oval), basketball was always Rhubottom’s favorite.

“Making the starting five on the varsity squad in basketball my sophomore year” was a particular highlight, which allowed him to “play with great athletes like Bill Jarrell, Randy Keefe, Marc Bisset and Foster Faris.”

That unit played for legendary CHS coach Bob Barker, a man who had a huge positive impact on Rhubottom.

“Coach Barker (was a favorite) for his professionalism,” Rhubottom said. “I remember him quoting as he was handing out our red blazers, ‘You’re representing yourself as an athlete and you’re representing Coupeville High School’.”

CHS football coach Pat Lippincott and track guru Craig Pedlar (“great teacher, great coach”) also helped shaped the young Rhubottom into the man he became.

“Coach Pedlar brought Michael Ellsworth, Jeff Fielding, and myself to the State A Finals in Yakima in 1978,” Rhubottom said. “It was great to be involved with great athletes of the school.

“It’s what you did on Friday nights.”

Whether it was standing tall at the state tourney or ripping through the line to block a punt against Concrete, before scooping up the loose ball and taking it to the house for a touchdown, Rhubottom played with passion, for himself and his teammates.

“I loved and respected the athletic program, playing with great athletes in a small town.”

The lessons he learned as a Wolf benefited Rhubottom as he went on to build his own family (he has a son, Jeff, Jr.) and a career in the painting business.

“Working hard and being responsible and trying to stay in the best physical shape as the years go by. Keeping active,” have been his guiding principals.

Rhubottom considers himself “totally blessed,” having been married to Cindy, “the most beautiful, loving wife, mother, and grandmother” until she lost her battle with cancer in September, 2016.

Being “surrounded by loving new and old family” has helped him greatly.

As he looks back at his own career, Rhubottom calls on today’s Wolves to seize the day.

“Respect yourself. Respect your school. Give 110%. Enjoy the experience,” he said. “Have fun, because it goes by quick.

“Keep active. Always love the sport,” Rhubottom added. “It was fun to take a trip down memory road of my athletic career at Coupeville High School. These are memories I will cherish forever.”

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Kailey Kellner busts through the defense, on her way to rattling home another bucket. (John Fisken photos)

   Kailey Kellner busts through the defense, on her way to rattling home another bucket. (John Fisken photos)

It must be the intitials. Kellner, hanging out with fellow Hall o' Famer Kacie Kiel.

It must be the initials. Kellner, hanging out with fellow Hall o’ Famer Kacie Kiel.

Over the past three-plus years, I have had a front row seat to a transformation.

When Kailey Kellner first walked into the Coupeville High School gym midway through her freshman year, none of us knew much about her.

She was a mystery, a total unknown, a shy young woman who had been plucked from England and transported to a rock in the middle of the water in the Pacific Northwest by a family move.

Today, as we sit just a couple months away from her graduation, we all know Kailey much better, and we know this as simple truth — she is now, and has always been, a Hall of Famer.

From a tentative freshman to a sweet-shooting senior, from a girl who didn’t know a play to a rampaging force of nature ripping rebounds out of rival’s hands, she has grown before our eyes.

And so it is, with deep appreciation for how she conducts herself, on and off the court, that we, her fans, welcome her into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find her up at the top of the blog, abiding under the Legends tab that so aptly describes her.

Kailey could rain with the best of them, and her long, arcing three-balls from the corners, which would ripple the nets with a gentle splash as they hit pay dirt, were often a thing of beauty.

But she was a player who worked on her game throughout her career, adding new wrinkles to it, and could never be defined for just one small facet.

Kellner made her varsity debut as a sophomore, and was a key player as a junior and senior, a member of three teams which won Olympic League titles.

She exits having never lost a conference game as a varsity player, and Kailey is a big part of why those teams were so successful.

Scoring punch can never be underestimated, but over time, her quiet leadership skills and a willingness to sacrifice for her teammates was just as important.

When I look back at her career, the game which I feel best defines her was a district playoff game against Seattle Christian during her junior season.

The Wolves, playing on the road, had been rocked the game before by Charles Wright Academy.

Not so much on the scoreboard, where a late CHS rally almost stole a win, but down in the pits.

The much-rougher Tarriers socked the Wolves in the face (often literally) and if the Coupeville players were expecting the big city refs to save them, it was never going to happen.

Returning to the court in a game where the stakes were plain — win and you go to state, lose and you go home — CHS stepped onto the court a different team.

This time, they were the aggressors. The beasts on the boards. The ballers who weren’t takin’ no crud off of no one.

Makana Stone was transcendent, flying above the fray for 24 points and 20 rebounds. Mia Littlejohn was sparking the offense and Lauren Grove was lights-out on defense.

Every Wolf who touched the hardwood that night, all eight of them, fired as one and made the big city girls take several steps back.

It was the pinnacle of modern Coupeville basketball, a night which will stay with all of those who played, coached or lost their voice screaming in support.

And Kellner?

The three-ball-lovin’ sharpshooter who normally played most of the game on the outside, crashed into the paint with a vengeance that I have rarely seen in 25 years of high school sports coverage.

Her mere stats — 12 points, 10 boards and five assists as Coupeville roared to a 49-33 win and its first trip to state in a decade — only tell part of the story.

It was the look in Kellner’s eyes that night. The stride in her step. The pride in her work.

The soft-spoken young girl who tentatively stepped into an American gym two years before was replaced by a strong, confident young woman, and it was beautiful to behold.

On that night, for 32 minutes, no one wanted it more than Kailey did.

I hope, as she goes forward, she always remembers that night.

What it took to get there. What she accomplished. And how it felt afterwards.

Kailey is going to achieve big things in her life, and whether they come on the court or off, her large fan club is going to be thrilled for her.

But, before she leaves us and heads out to conquer new worlds, let’s take a moment to say a simple, heartfelt thank you.

Thank you, Kailey, for showing up in Cow Town, for playing with honor and fire, and for being a truly remarkable young woman.

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Megan Smith

   Megan Smith, who repped the Wolf uniform as well as any hoops player ever, has returned to coach the next generation.

The prodigal daughter has returned.

When Coupeville Middle School kicks off its girls basketball season at Chimacum Thursday, the Wolves will boast two coaches, one sorta old school and one definitely new school.

Ryan King is returning for his final go-around before taking a sabbatical and will lead the 8th grade squad.

Meanwhile, in news ready to set the internet afire, legendary former CHS hoops star Megan Smith will make her debut calling the shots for the 7th graders.

Smith, a 12-time letter winner during her days at Coupeville High School, was a star in volleyball, basketball and softball.

She claimed the school’s Female Athlete of the Year three straight years and remains firmly in the top 1% of athletes to ever pull on a Wolf uniform.

After graduating with the Class of 2010, Smith went on to play college ball and is now returning to pass on the lessons learned to a new generation.

Her hiring will become official once approved by the school board at their next meeting.

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Claire Ure: American Legend. (John Fisken photo)

Claire Ure: American Legend. (John Fisken photo)

This is a brief detour.

We’re taking a moment away from Coupeville, and sports, to pay tribute to one of the nicest people to ever walk the face of this Earth.

Claire Ure graduates from Oak Harbor High School tonight, and, while I won’t be there sweltering with the masses who watch her make the walk to get the diploma, I want to wish her the absolute best.

Because that’s what she is — the absolute best.

Miss Ure … OK, we’ll call you Claire Bear for a second, cause you can’t throw anything at me if I’m not there … always know how much everyone adores you.

You are a bright, shining light, full of goodness and cheer and kindness and wonder, all wrapped up in one intelligent, sweet-natured young woman.

As you move on, finishing your last months at my former employer, Christopher’s on Whidbey, before heading off to hair school and the big world out there, remember this:

You are special, Claire. You are wonderful. You are everything good in the world.

Everyone who has spent time with you loves you and wishes you an incredible life.

Go be awesome every single day. Or, in other words, just be yourself.

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Breeanna Messner (John Fisken and Shelli trumbull photos)

The many smiles of Breeanna Messner.

You try to be fair.

Try to take all the athletes you cover and regard them as equals, all being worthy of coverage and hyperbole, and sometimes, downright gushing.

But, invariably, a person can’t help but play favorites.

It’s human nature.

So, I will be the first to admit that Breeanna Messner, former four-sport Coupeville High School star, current college student and today’s birthday girl, is higher on my list than most.

Miss Messner is one of the most genuinely sweet, caring, lovely human beings I have ever met, and she has been that way from the first day I knew her to the last time I saw her.

Breeanna the athlete was one of the hardest workers I have seen, the indispensable glue to every team she was on, the one every coach adored.

Breeanna the person is even better.

My lasting image is of her in the stands during JV games, with her varsity teammates, one eye on the game, cheering for the younger Wolves, while simultaneously doing her homework.

Except for those moments when she would spring up to go hug her grandparents, her little cousin, each and every one of her former coaches, when they entered the gym.

When someone exudes love to those around her, takes the time in the middle of her own preparation and concentration, to make sure others feel appreciated, it is a sign that person is special herself.

As a cheerleader, a volleyball spiker, a gritty hoops player, a rock-solid softball catcher, Bree made big plays, won big games.

Off the court, away from the diamond, she won hearts and minds by simply being herself.

As she celebrates her birthday today, I hope life is repaying her big-time for being one truly amazing young woman.

Breezy, you are the best. Always.

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