Posts Tagged ‘National Honor Society’

   South Whidbey’s Lewis Pope wears #15 on his basketball jersey to honor his late father Henry, who was born Sept. 15. His dad’s initials and the number are also on a cross Pope now wears. (Photo courtesy Teresa Pope)

   After signing his letter of intent Wednesday to play basketball at Central Washington University, Pope enjoys the moment with his mom and sisters. (Nanette Streubel photo)

Every time the son plays, you can see the father.

As he’s risen to become the most electrifying high school hoops star on our Island, South Whidbey’s Lewis Pope has helped keep the memory of his late father Henry burning bright.

Henry’s unexpected death in the summer before Lewis entered 8th grade left a huge hole in the community.

The elder Pope, who was recruited to play college ball for the University of Washington, was a popular longtime coach who devoted countless hours to his community, both on and off the court.

As hoops fans have watched Lewis develop from a precocious freshman to a well-seasoned senior who signed his own college letter of intent Wednesday with Central Washington University, they have witnessed something special.

Like Manny Martucci in Oak Harbor in the early ’90s, or Makana Stone at Coupeville in recent years, the younger Pope often hits levels rarely seen on Whidbey courts.

A silky-smooth ball handler who can slash to the hoop for quick buckets, pull up and nail daggers from the outside, or use his passing skills to set-up teammates like Kody Newman and Levi Buck for success, Pope is dangerous in all aspects of the game.

Before he goes to college, Pope will have a final chance to showcase those skills in front of all three Whidbey fan-bases this season.

South Whidbey hosts Coupeville Dec. 9 and travels to Oak Harbor Dec. 20 in non-conference games.

A gym rat who “plays basketball year round,” Pope lives and breathes hoops, while still finding time to excel in school, where he enjoys math class and is a member of the National Honor Society.

On the court, though, is where he is the most free to create.

“Basketball is my favorite sport because I love everything about it,” Pope said. “The competition, the work ethic needed to be successful and the camaraderie.

“I love everything about the game of basketball and what it has to offer.”

While his natural talent carried him to the top of the Falcon depth chart very quickly, it’s taken hard work, and a lot of it, to stay on top of the mountain.

“I think I’m a well-rounded player but I believe I can always be better and work on all aspects of the game of basketball,” Pope said. “I want to leave my mark on the Falcon program by continuing to work my very hardest and try to bring out the best from every one of my teammates.”

Growing up in a rural, small-town environment, while still having big city-caliber coaching, has been a double blessing for the high-flying Falcon.

“Everyone is so nice and they all want the very best for you and your success,” Pope said.

“I also believe we are extremely lucky to have Coach (Mike) Washington, because he gives his all for the team and shows us every day at practice how to work hard by his actions.”

While he plays for his coaches, for his teammates and for his classmates, it is ultimately his family which most inspires and drives him.

“My family played a huge part in making me the person I am,” Pope said. “They all have supported me on and off the court, no matter what.

“Both of my sisters, Sam and Taylor, have always been there for me on and off the court, even giving me rides to the gym when I couldn’t drive.”

It all began with his parents, though, Henry and Teresa, who had 27 years of marriage together, raised three stellar children and impacted countless lives.

“My mom and dad first got me involved in basketball at a very early age and taught me the fundamentals of basketball and how to play the right way,” Pope said. “They both have always supported and encouraged me throughout my entire life.”

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   South Whidbey High School senior softball sensation Mackenzee Collins. (Photo courtesy Collins)

“Softball has always been my escape.”

Mackenzee Collins is a standout on the diamond, a flame-throwing hurler, a coach’s daughter driven both by those who believed in her and those who did not, a high-flying Falcon on her way to big things off-Island one day.

The South Whidbey High School senior, who also plays basketball, hails from an athletic family which includes older brother Parker and dad Tim.

Her big brother was a rampaging force of nature as a football and basketball star, a role model as she developed her own impressive skill-set, while her late father shaped her life in a million little ways, starting with being her pitching guru, and going well beyond.

“There are a few people who have made me the player and person I am today,” Collins said. “Parker, growing up, he played a lot of sports, but basketball was his passion.

“Watching how dedicated he was and still is, how selfless of a player he is, and how incredibly hard Parker works, is amazing, and he inspires me to be the best athlete I can be.”

Their father, a noted pitching coach, had a sterling reputation in the local sports community, and his unexpected passing in 2015 affected players, fans and fellow coaches at all three Whidbey Island high schools.

“He always pushed me to be the very best player and teammate I could,” Collins said. “When I was feeling tired or lazy, it was my dad who made me go pitch to him (and thankfully he did).

“Even when it was 24 degrees out one winter years ago, I still remember going under the covered area at the elementary school and pitching with him,” she added. “He was, and always will be, my biggest fan and my biggest inspiration. I play for him.”

As positive as her time with her father was, on the field and off, there’s another coach, one with a different outlook, who drives Collins through the toughest practice, who helps her reach back and find one more laser pitch to escape a bases-loaded jam.

“As crazy as this may be, I will never forget one other person who had a huge impact on me as a player,” she said. “The coach of my first select softball team when I was only nine years old.

“I pitched one inning the entire season, simply because he didn’t believe in me, and didn’t hide it,” Collins added. “I may have only been nine years old at the time, but somewhere on that team it lit a fire in me to prove him wrong, a fire that’s still there today.”

Away from the field, she’s a member of the National Honor Society, someone who “loves reading and writing, so naturally my favorite class is English,” a strong student who wants to follow both of her parents into the teaching profession.

“Other than sports, I love to spend time with my friends, out in the sun on the beach, reading a good book, or blasting my country music,” Collins said.

But the softball diamond is where she makes her name, where she wants to carve a path which will lead to “playing collegiate softball at a competitive school.”

“It’s always been my dream,” Collins said. “And I am working very hard to make it happen, so I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”

While she enjoys basketball, spring is her time.

“Softball is easily my favorite,” Collins said. “I grew up around a lot of sports, but ever since I started playing softball when I was eight I just fell in love with the game. It’s fast paced at a high level, and I love the competition.”

She has a ferocious bat and a slick glove, but it’s her propensity for eye-popping strikeouts which catch most people’s eye.

The Cascade Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Collins, with her killer mind-set and big-game work in the pitcher’s circle, carried the Falcons to the state tourney as a junior.

“One of my strengths as a pitcher is the movement I put on my pitches,” she said. “Over the past two years, I’ve worked a lot on my screwball, curve-ball, and rise-ball in order to really make them jump.

“Of course, movement and location is something a pitcher can absolutely always improve upon, so that is my focus this coming off-season,” Collins added. “Another strength of mine is my composure on the mound.

“My motto has always been that whether my team is winning by 10 or losing by 10, I stay the same.”

While the spotlight often rests on her, thanks to playing a key position and putting up impressive stats, Collins is quick to spread the love to her teammates.

“I enjoy sports in general because they give young people a chance to be a part of a team, represent their community, compete, and have fun, all of which is incredibly valuable,” she said. “Softball, in particular, has always been my escape. I knew it was something that I could do that could take my mind off of anything.

“As I mentioned, it’s very competitive, and I love the pressure put on me as a pitcher,” Collins added. “I love knowing that my teammates are counting on me, and I work very hard to not let them down.”

While Coupeville fans might logically daydream what it would be like to have her wearing a Wolf uniform, forming a potent pitching combo with fellow CHS ace Katrina McGranahan, Collins is content with life on the South end.

“In many ways, Coupeville and South Whidbey are very similar,” she said. “I love how close-knit our school is. As much as I want to branch out and meet new people, I love walking down the hallways and being able to recognize pretty much everyone.

“Our community is filled with kind, helpful, and incredibly caring people, and all of South Whidbey is beautiful. In fact, our whole Island is; we’re pretty lucky!,” Collins added. “South Whidbey is home, and it always will be.”

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   Mary Zisette (in SWHS tennis shirt), is a fast-rising Falcon star.

“To me, the people in this town are the best.”

Mary Zisette enjoys her time on the tennis court at South Whidbey High School, but it’s more than that.

“Everyone is incredibly kind and it’s fun to know all the people you see walking through town,” she said. “I think the sense of community is the most special.

“For our school it’s very similar,” Zisette added. “All the teachers are great and super helpful and you pretty much know every single person in the school.”

A strong presence on the court for the Falcons, whether playing singles or doubles, she’s headed into her junior year at SWHS.

With two postseason runs already to her credit, Zisette continues to work on her court skills, with an eye on always improving.

“I think I’m very coachable and can work new suggestions into my game,” she said. “I need to work on my mental tenacity in stressful matches.

“My goals are to just keep improving and keep working hard,” Zisette added. “Also, making it to state would be really nice, we’ve been close the past two years.”

Ever since she first picked up a racket, the love of the game has been there for her. A lot of that comes from the camaraderie she experiences on the court.

“Tennis is my favorite sport because of the atmosphere of the team and how supportive and encouraging the coaches and other team members are,” Zisette said. “I enjoy being a part of a team and getting to know new people each year.”

A member of the National Honor Society, she’s “interested in writing and loves art,” while finding time to balance a summer job with friends and family.

Those close to her have had a big impact on Zisette as she grows as an athlete and a young woman.

“My dad, who taught me to play tennis when I was little and has encouraged me along the way (is a big influence),” she said. “Also, the rest of my family, who are always supportive and teach me ways to be a better, more kind, person.”

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Kaela Hollrigel (and cheer buddy Mckenzie Meyer). (John Fisken photos)

Kaela Hollrigel, the serene star of the cheer world. (John Fisken photos)

She’s a bright, shining star on a rocket ride to Amazing Land.

Kaela Hollrigel, who has lived on Whidbey Island for a little less than two years, has used her time here wisely.

The Coupeville High School senior, who celebrates a birthday today, jumped right in and made an impact on multiple fronts.

She came out swinging for the fences as a first-time Wolf cheerleader last year, taking home the Wolf Award for football season and Most Spirited while rooting for Coupeville’s hoop squads.

Now Hollrigel is set to be a team leader in her final go-around in the red and black, just as little sis Natalie joins the squad as a freshman.

While Kaela fits perfectly as a cheerleader — she was just born super-cheerful, I bet — her time spent working the sidelines is just a small part of her busy life.

Go down her list of accomplishments and it’s one high point after another.

An ASB leader.

Proud member of the National Honor Society.

A key contributor to Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

The brains behind a super-successful community blood drive.

Hollrigel is one of our best and brightest, a kind, genuinely sweet and friendly young woman who mixes academics and sports and emerges as a strong, committed leader with boundless upside.

She is going places, and while it’s her remarkable brain which is driving the car, it’s her serene, welcoming nature which makes others cheer for her along the way.

You can’t help but like Kaela, whether you’re part of her inner circle or just a fan in the stands.

Happy birthday, Miss Hollrigel.

May your senior year, and all the years to come, be as awesome as you are.

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Katrina McGranahan smacked a homer run and three doubles Monday. (John Fisken photos)

   Katrina McGranahan crunched a home run and three doubles Monday. (John Fisken photos)

Robin Cedillo smacked a single, threw a runner out from right field and had the game's most enthusiastic miniature fan club.

   Robin Cedillo smacked a single, threw a runner out from right field and had the game’s most enthusiastic miniature fan club.

Katrina McGranahan may never, ever stop playing softball.

The Coupeville High School freshman has been a busy ball player in recent days, playing for her school squad Friday, then putting in five games over the weekend at a select team tourney in Selah, before returning to play for CHS again Monday.

If anything, the constant flow of games seems to have put her in a groove, as she swung an exceptionally hot bat against visiting Bellevue Christian, cracking a two-run home run and three doubles.

And while her offensive explosion wasn’t enough to lift the Wolves to a win — errors killed them in a 13-4 non-conference loss — she went down fighting.

McGranahan may have the bruises to show for it, too, as she was involved in not one, but two, collisions on the base paths.

The first time, her body, the Viking catcher and the incoming ball all arrived at the same time as she beat the throw home with a desperate dive to cap her inside-the-park homer.

The second time she got nailed in the face while trying to slip under a tag at third.

Both times she limped away but kept on charging, Coupeville’s very own fireball-throwing, big-hit-bashing Energizer Bunny.

McGranahan’s round tripper came on a first inning blast over the right fielder’s head that plated Lauren Rose and knotted the game up at 2-2.

That tie held until the fourth, when what was looking like a 1-2-3 inning suddenly veered off of a cliff Wile E. Coyote-style.

After an opening strikeout, Wolf second baseman Jae LeVine, hauling rear across the diamond, came hurtling out of nowhere to snatch a foul ball in the air behind first base for the second out.

But as quickly as the fan’s roars went up, they died, as Bellevue got lucky, then good.

A walk, a wild pitch, an error, two passed balls, another walk, another error and things slid out of control.

Having gotten lucky, the Vikings then got good, bashing a two-run double and an RBI triple to take a close game and blow it open to the tune of 8-2.

Coupeville, in a bit of a mid-game funk at the plate whenever McGranahan wasn’t cranking away, finally got some more runs on the board in the fifth, but it was too little, too late.

The Wolves final run was a beauty, however, as McKayla Bailey blew up the catcher at the plate, knocking the ball loose at the very last second, before slapping one dirt-encrusted hand on the plate.

It was the second big-time play of the day for the senior sensation.

She also made a gorgeous web gem where she sprinted to her right at shortstop and went airborne, Superman-style, to haul in a rapidly-dropping ball like she was snagging a game-winning touchdown.

A dynamite play in the midst of a team-wide string of errors?

Typical on an odd day where the weather fluctuated wildly, the start of the game was delayed by 50 minutes when no umpires showed up — Wolf center fielder Hope Lodell passed part of the time impressing everyone by doing pull-ups on the dugout roof overhang — and CHS coach Deanna Rafferty got run over in the third base coaches box by a Bellevue player chasing a popup.

As the highs and lows of the day raged around her, ever-sunny Coupeville sophomore Robin Cedillo put together one of the best games of her short career while being cheered on by her exuberant niece Charlotte.

Every time Cedillo did something, whether it was smacking a single in the fourth or gunning down a runner at second from her post in right field to end an inning, the little girl her family calls Charlie went bonkers for auntie Robin.

Adorable proof that, win or lose, your little niece cheering for you is always going to make the day better.

And, as soon as the game ended, and congratulatory handshakes were exchanged, a reminder that these are student/athletes, as Tiffany Briscoe, LeVine and, eventually, Bailey, all took off for the nearby high school, where the National Honor Society induction was about to start.

As Briscoe charged past her teammates, intent on going to the ceremony still in uniform, her teammates, noticing the dirt on her softball pants, razzed her.

“Go roll around some more in the dirt first! You’re not dirty enough!”

LeVine was hot on her heels, and then Bailey, who was supposed to deliver a speech at the event, pulled her equipment together and ambled off the diamond.

“No, I haven’t written the speech. Just gonna make it up as I go,” she said, and then smiled the smile of a true Photo Bomb Queen.

“That’s how I do what I do.”

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