Posts Tagged ‘Marlene Grasser’

Marlene Grasser was named as the best athlete in CHS history by her peers in a social media poll, and it wasn’t close. (Photo courtesy Grasser family)

There can only be one!

Or maybe three or four, if we’re being realistic.

Earlier this week, I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter, hailing all current and former Coupeville High School athletes with a simple, yet deeply-weighted, question.

Who is the best Wolf athlete you played with, and why?

Having dug myself out from under the deluge of responses, it’s become obvious there are strong feelings out there, and strong pockets of support for a couple of former Cow Town stars in particular.

Now remember, this was a randomly conducted quiz, and, if you weren’t on social media, you probably didn’t see it.

Modern-day athletes, and by that I mean, from the ’80s on, tended to draw the most support.

If we put more time and effort into this endeavor, and made sure the whole fan base of Wolf Nation was involved, I have no doubt we’d see more mentions of athletes from, say, the ’50s or the ’70s.

No one is claiming me asking a question on social media was going to give us a definitive answer. So, take it for what it was meant to be, a jumping-off point for debate and discussion.

In the end, 60 athletes, including a couple who are still active at CHS, were named.

That’s if we exclude football legends Clay Hughes and James Smith, who made a pretty good plea that they should be recognized for their pre-high school days.

“In 2001 when James and I were the water boys for the high school football team, I personally think that was one of the best performances Coupeville athletics has ever seen,” Hughes said.

“Check the team photo for that year … we are clear standouts.”

“Good luck trying to find any member of that team that was even remotely parched,” Smith said, nodding vigorously in agreement. “Not a single team has been that well hydrated since!”

CHS has a long and glorious history of water boys, but even Kyle King, who went on to win five state titles in track after his days of manning the H2O, bows in the direction of Hughes and Smith.

“I was a water boy back in 1998 with Bryan Sherman and Michael Bagby; we were pretty good … but being down there first hand I can’t say we compared to James and Clay.

“Hope this helps to give them the recognition they deserve!”

Once we got past the water boy detour, there was the vote for movie star Teen Wolf, and then along came urban legend Steven Dozier, the only one brave enough to ask if he could vote for himself.

He could, and he did, causing longtime friend (and honest to goodness hoops sensation back in the day) Allen Black to arch an eyebrow and snort.

But, when all was said and done, here’s how it broke down:


One vote:

Mike Bagby

Natasha Bamberger:

(“Her natural talent was stunning. She would lap people in a 3200. And it was effortless to her.” – Molly McPherson)

Novi Barron
Danny Conlisk
Matt Cross
Steven Dozier
Randy Duggan
Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby
David Ford
Tony Ford
Corinne Gaddis
Joy Hack
Kevin Hack

Hailey Hammer:

“Always such an amazing and supportive teammate” – Breeanna Messner

Matt Helm:

“I think he was more athletic than he seemed.” – Noah Roehl

Wiley Hesselgrave:

“Great team leader.” – Luke Merriman

Dianne Jacobsen
Brianne King
Tyler King
Steve Konek
Casey Larson

Jae LeVine:

“Cause she’s the coolest bean there is!” – Payton Wilson

Abraham Leyva:

“You goal-scoring machine!” – Jeremiah Pace

Jean Lund-Olsen
Tina Lyness

Breeanna Messner:

“Who doesn’t love her?” – Hailey Hammer

Amy Mouw
Sarah Mouw

Mitch Pelroy:

“Fast man!” – Ron Bodamer

TJ Rickner
Bill Riley
Lindsey Roberts

Noah Roehl:

“I was never blessed to get to play with him but I would nominate him for being an all-around awesome football player.” – Virgil Roehl

Virgil Roehl
Brad Sherman
Ian Smith
Megan Smith
Jeff Stone
Nick Streubel
Jim Syreen

Valen Trujillo:

“She always gave 100%, had a great attitude, was an amazing leader, and was kind to everyone” – Mikayla Elfrank

Kara Warder
Marlys West
Rich Wilson


Two votes:

Todd Brown:

“An amazing running back.” – Virgil Roehl

Linda Cheshier:

“Was such an impressive natural athlete to me! She rocked it in softball and basketball.” – Joli (Smith) Bartell

Corey Cross
Gavin Keohane
Pete Petrov
Todd Smith

Sean Toomey-Stout:

“Multiple defensive, and offensive plays executed all-around, including multiple TD’s. Hits seriously hard.” – Ben Smith

“All-around a big influence to the entire team to put in max effort. Always puts in his best effort every down.” – Dawson Houston

Jake Tumblin:

“Amazing leader and all-around athlete” – Korbin Korzan

Greg White


Three votes:

Ian Barron:

“Because … stats.” – Michael Meyer

Yashmeen Knox:

“I never played with her, but I watched her growing up play while my parents coached her! I idolized her not only on, but off the court too. I wanted to be just like her growing up. She was a rock star!” – Megan Smith

Hunter Smith:

“The combination of pure athleticism, leadership, and optimism was contagious. The work that guy put in when no one was watching was unprecedented. Phenomenal athlete, and an even better friend.” – Nick Etzell

“He is a great leader and an amazing athlete! Even if we were down 45 points, or a few runs, he always had a comeback mentality!” – Jacob Zettle

“Do I even have to explain? IT’S HUNTER SMITH!” – Alex Jimenez

Joli Smith:

“For all-around grace and style in multiple sports.” – Virgil Roehl


Four votes:

Makana Stone:

“By far one of the most supportive people on the team. She has always been a super-encouraging person and was always excited for you no matter the result. Just all-around amazing.” – Sylvia Hurlburt

“Ever since I stepped foot on the court I always felt welcome due to her and she made the game so much fun. Playing next to her for three years and being a co-captain with her for one of those years definitely showed me how to be a leader. She always brought such an amazing touch to that gym and team; she made us a family and it felt as if we were united. I will forever look up to her as a leader and an athlete.” – Kailey Kellner

Emily Vracin:

Great leader, positive attitude and stats. All-around awesome player.” – Gina (Dozier) Slowik


Nine votes:

Marlene Grasser:

“Best on the court and off.” – David Ford

“Best in every sport she did. Natural talent.” – Georgie Smith

“She was kind, supportive and an amazing athlete!” – Aleshia (McFadyen) Mitten

“She was pretty much my hero.” – Emily (Vracin) Kosderka

“She was my cousin and best role model ever; I’m blessed to have been able to play by her side. She also gave the BEST high fives ever!” – Shannon (Sherman) Martin

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   Coupeville High School girls hoops tipped off in 1974. (Photos courtesy Martha Folsom)

The ’74-’75 squad, which had to go to Fort Casey to practice.

   The high scoring ’86-’87 Wolves, the first CHS girls hoops team to make the playoffs. (Photo courtesy Sherry Roberts)

They were the pioneers.

Today, 43 seasons into its existence, the Coupeville High School girls basketball program is flying high.

The current Wolves have won three straight Olympic League titles (while going 27-0 against conference rivals), and the program has produced numerous big-time stars and hung several state tourney banners over the years.

But all of that success had to start somewhere, and today we’re here to honor two squads which made everything possible.

As we swing open the doors to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, we welcome the 1974-1975 and 1986-1987 Wolf girls hoops teams.

After this, you’ll find them hanging out up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

Why those teams?

Because the ’74-’75 squad was the first modern-day team in school history and the ’86-’87 sharpshooters were the first to ever make the playoffs.

With Title IX having shaken things up (finally) in 1972, CHS began to open up opportunities to female athletes.

The school, which already had a strong basketball tradition on the boys side of the court, launched its girls program in 1974 … and promptly sent the players down the road.

While the boys hoops stars practiced in the same gym in which they played their home games, the Wolf girls trekked to Fort Casey for their workouts.

“No heat and the out-of-bounds lines were the walls!,” remembers Martha Folsom.

It wasn’t until 1977 that the Wolf girls finally got a full share of the home gym for practices, but the early road trips didn’t keep players from showing up, as the first squad boasted a full 12-player varsity roster.

While I’m tracking down the history of CHS girls basketball, the ’74-’75 team is still hidden in the shadows a bit.

The Whidbey News-Times elected to not write a single word about that season, and it was only with year two — and the arrival of a new sports writer — that things changed.

So, stat-wise, I haven’t been able to find much yet. But the hunt goes on.

We do have photos and a roster, though, thanks to a school yearbook kept by Folsom.

By the time the ’86-’87 team took the court, the program was more than a decade old and things were starting to take shape.

No Wolf girl topped 150 points in a season until Kristan Hurlburt went off for 263 in 1981-1982.

Two years later Judy Marti set a new mark, pouring in 312 points during her senior season.

Enter the ’86-’87 squad, which scored like no Wolf girls team before it, with two players, Terry Perkins (314) and Marlene Grasser (307) joining Marti in the 300-point club.

Tina Barker (274) just missed making it a trio, while Sarah Powell (141) and Aimee Messner (88) were also scoring threats for a deep, balanced team.

Led by head coach Phyllis Textor, the Wolves finished 15-8 overall, 11-5 in league play, coming within a single win of making it all the way to state in the program’s playoff debut.

The CHS girls finally cracked that barrier in 1998, advancing to the big dance with Willie Smith coaching, before capturing the program’s first state tourney win in 2000.

After that came three state banners (a sixth-place and two eight-place finishes) during Greg Oldham’s tenure, and the Wolf girls have gone back to state as recently as 2016 under David King.

There can be a solid argument made that girls basketball is the most consistently successful sports program at CHS over the past two decades.

But that all started with the athletes we honor today, the ones who broke the playing barrier and the ones who broke the postseason barrier.

So welcome to our little digital shrine.

Inducted together, as teams.

1974-1975 squad:

Brenda Belcher
Suzanne Enders
Martha Folsom
Eileen Hanley
Tammie Hardie
Ann Kahler
Debbie Snyder
Tracy Snyder
Teresa Taylor
Jill Whitney
Janie Wilson
Jean Wyatt

1986-1987 squad:

Tina Barker
Sally Biskovich
Sherry Bonacci
Trudy Eaton
Carol Estes
Marlene Grasser
Aimee Messner
Cheryl Pangburn
Terry Perkins
Sarah Powell

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Marlene Grasser

Marlene Grasser, bein’ awesome. (Photo courtesy Sherry Roberts)

It’s time to bring the ladies home.

For the past nine years, Tom Roehl’s family and friends have done a remarkable job keeping the former Coupeville coach’s memory alive and his legacy thriving with the annual Roehl Roundball Classic.

The yearly all-day basketball tourney raises money for scholarships and gives former Wolf hoops stars the chance to reunite and relive their high school days.

When I attended last year’s shindig, it was a bit like going through a time machine, seeing players from the early ’90s facing off with — and soundly beating — recent CHS grads.

It’s a huge success and everyone who has been involved, from the Roehls on down, deserves a huge hand.

But, there is one small thing.

The tournament has been, with very few exceptions, an all-male tourney.

Other than a player or two here and there, it’s just not real likely you’re going to get, say, a 5-foot-4 female point guard to get super-excited about catching elbows all game from 6-foot-5 guys who outweigh them by 100 pounds.

So, while we get to see a lot of the guys who once wore the Wolf uniform back in action, we don’t get to see the women who once repped the red and black as girls.

Which is too bad, since the largest portion of Coupeville’s prep hoops success was crafted by those young women.

It was Wolf girls who hung repeat state banners in the late ’90s and early 2000’s, not the guys.

It’s the Wolf girls who are headed towards a third straight Olympic League title this season, not the guys.

So, I say, we need to bring the ladies home, same as the gentlemen.

Someone, or several someones, needs to step up and pull together a similar one-day event aimed at former Wolf female hoops stars.

Not as competition to the Roehl Roundball Classic, but as a complement and a chance to honor all of our hoops history.

It doesn’t have to be played at the same time. Actually makes more sense to have it a different time, so both events can stand on their own.

My idea to kick-start it, is you name it in honor of one of the finest hoops players ever to pull on a Coupeville uniform, an amazing, well-loved women who unfortunately left us way too early.

Just as the guy’s tournament honors the legend and legacy of Tom Roehl, the women’s tournament could honor Marlene Grasser.

She had a tremendous impact on everyone around her, and it would be a fitting tribute to all she accomplished and all she means to a large group of people.

You put on the Marlene Grasser Roundball Classic and I think you get a huge turnout.

Right here on the Island, you could harass former CHS hoops stars ranging from Lexie and Brittany Black to Tina (Lyness) Joiner to Kacie Kiel to “old school” legends like Sherry (Bonacci) Roberts and Aimee (Messner) Bishop, and on and on.

Like with the guy’s tourney, if you plan it right, you can pull in players off at college or living real life, and give them a chance to see their families.

Ashley (Ellsworth-Bagby) Heilig, Brianne King, Ann PettitKassie (Lawson) O’Neil, Madeline Strasburg, Makana Stone, Julia Myers.

The list is endless and I think a lot of them would come.

Since girl’s teams tend to use more strategy than boy’s teams (my own opinion) you could incorporate coaches.

Willie Smith, who launched the CHS girls program into rarefied air, is sitting right there in the AD’s office. Not hard to find.

David and Amy King, who are racking up league titles as fast as the printers can make new plaques, are already in the gym all winter.

Heck, if we ask nicely, I bet Greg Oldham and Phyllis Textor might pop in for a visit and a chance to prowl the CHS gym one more time.

Now listen, I’m not the guy to set this up, but I would love to write about it, the same as I do with the guy’s tourney.

The template is there, and I’m sure Noah Roehl would be willing to answer questions about how he and his family pull off their event.

We just need someone to seize the moment.

Bring the ladies home. Honor Marlene. Celebrate the rich legacy of girls hoops at CHS.

It can happen. It should happen.

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A sensational athlete and a better person.

   Marlene Grasser with her athletic successor, great niece Mia. (Photo courtesy Ashley Heilig)

The start of a new year will kick off with a celebration of the life and legacy of Marlene Grasser.

One of the most accomplished, beloved athletes in Coupeville High School history, the two-time Female Athlete of the Year passed away at 46 last week after a valiant two-year battle with cancer.

A 1987 CHS grad, Grasser was a star in four sports — volleyball, basketball, softball and track — who went on to be a successful college volleyball player.

Her impact went far beyond what she accomplished on the athletic field, however, and her words continue to ring true for current Wolf athletes.

For more on that, pop over to:


The family has arranged for graveside services at 1 PM Sat., Jan. 2, at Sunnyside Cemetery (90 Cemetery Rd., off of S. Sherman) in Coupeville.

That will be followed by a gathering of love, sharing and memories at 2 PM in the commons at Coupeville High School (501 S. Main).

Dress is casual. Marlene was a very devoted Seahawks fan, and the family encourages attendees to wear their favorite sports attire in her memory.

Donations may be made to:

Marlene Grasser Benevolent Fund
BECU (Boeing Employee Credit Union) Financial Institution
Routing 325081403
Account 3602350089
13910 NE Mill Plaza
Woodinville, WA 98072

If you would like to send flowers, the family asks you to use Fresh Flower Express (7 S. Main/678-8010) in Coupeville.

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Marlene Grasser with her great niece. (Photo courtesy Ashley Heilig)

Marlene Grasser with her great niece, Mia. (Photos courtesy Ashley Heilig)

A sensational athlete and a better person.

A sensational athlete and a better person.

Coupeville High School will pay tribute to Marlene Grasser during tonight’s basketball doubleheader.

The Wolves are scheduled to play Orcas Island, with the girls varsity game at 3:30, followed by the boys at 5.

Grasser, a two-time CHS Female Athlete of the Year and one of the most beloved, influential athletes to ever wear a Coupeville uniform, passed away this week after a two-year battle with cancer.

A 1987 grad, she was 46.

During her days as a Wolf, Grasser starred in volleyball, basketball, softball and track, then went on to play volleyball in college.

She was inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame in a class that included three of her contemporaries, Jennie (Cross) Prince, Aimee (Messner) Bishop and Sherry (Bonacci) Roberts, as well as brother-in-law Ron Bagby.

Grasser was that rarity, an athlete who influenced generations of other athletes in her home town, and will continue to do so.

A little taste of the vast outpouring of love which has been directed to her family:

Sherry (Bonacci) Roberts):

Marlene was my athletic role model. She was such an amazing and gifted athlete and one of the nicest people ever.

She always helped me and encouraged me to strive for excellence and become the best I could be.

Emily (Vracin) Kosderka:

Growing up, I admired Marlene SO MUCH–I wanted to be her.

I didn’t even really get to know her, but she was a stud female athlete and a great person — that was enough for me.

I’m so sorry to hear this news and my thoughts and prayers go out to all of her family and friends.

Joli (Smith) Bartell:

This breaks my heart. I think I was about in junior high when I started growing a huge love of playing sports thanks to a few people I watched and looked up to, including Marlene Grasser.

I am pretty sure she was my babysitter when I was little!

I will never forget that name when I think of the greats in CHS sports.

My thoughts and prayers to her friends and family.

Suzan Georges:

I will share this with my 10 year old who has played in the SWISH team for two years now.

Our condolences and prayers go out to all the family!

Her memory and words will live on through Coupeville’s future athletes.

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