Posts Tagged ‘new coach’

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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Greg Turcott, a longtime coach and teacher, is Coupeville High School’s new JV girls basketball coach.

This isn’t Greg Turcott’s first time in the gym.

Coupeville High School’s new JV girls basketball coach arrives with an impressive resume, having called the shots on the hardwood for numerous teams.

That includes high school stints at Archbishop Thomas Murphy, Kamiak, Bishop Blanchet, and South Whidbey, as well as leading Shoreline Community College when its men’s hoops squad twice led the nation in scoring.

Turcott, who lives in Coupeville and teaches social studies and PE at a middle school in the Edmonds district, replaces Megan Smith, who was promoted to CHS varsity coach in September.

The son of a coach, the newest Wolf round-ball sage has spent much of his life in gyms, and has yet to grow tired of the sport.

“I just love to coach basketball, and have wanted to coach here for a few years, so very honored to have the opportunity,” Turcott said.

“I’ve been around the game for a long time, so can bring some experience,” he added. “Also, I work with kids every day, so do my best to work well with students.”

As JV coach, Turcott wants to help younger players develop their skills, while planting the seeds for future growth.

“I think (my main goal) is for them to understand what a great game it is, and to hopefully develop a passion for playing,” he said.

“To help coach Smith any way I can, and to help our kids have fun playing hoops,” Turcott added. “We love living in Coupeville, and hope to help coach the kids here in the community!”

Turcott’s wife, Amy, teaches in Oak Harbor, and he has three daughters — 18-year-old Katie, 14-year-old Maddie, and Harper, who is a ball of fire as she approaches her third birthday.

Harper will be running wild in the gym, I’m sure,” he said with a chuckle.

She’ll be able to join the pack, as CHS boys varsity coach Brad Sherman has four young sons who greatly enjoy claiming the court after games.

Turcott grew up in Montana, playing basketball, tennis, and baseball at Butte Central High School.

He then went on to play for standout Carroll College hoops teams led by his dad, Gary, who is inducted in that school’s hall of fame.

The elder Turcott coached for 40+ years, and while his son hasn’t matched that figure yet, Greg has had some memorable stops along the way.

He was tabbed as the Cascade Conference coach of the year following the 2009-2010 season, when he led Archbishop Murphy’s boys team to a school-record 17 straight wins, and an undefeated record in league play.

Greg Turcott was also an assistant coach for Bishop Blanchet when it knocked off Seattle Prep –and future NBA players Martel Webster and Spencer Hawes — during the 2004-2005 season.

While coaching in the college ranks, he helped build Shoreline Community College’s men’s squad into an offensive buzz saw which averaged 112 points a game.

He worked with former college and NBA star Bo Kimble, who singed the nets for 35 points a night in 1990 as the focal point of Loyola Marymount’s NCAA record-busting offense.

It’s fairly unlikely any Coupeville JV players will pour in buckets at that pace this season, but Turcott can adapt, and looks forward to new challenges.

“I’m very happy to be part of the athletic department and the coaching staff,” he said. “We really love Coupeville and look forward to the season.”

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Megan Smith, new Coupeville High School girls basketball head coach. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The circle is complete.

Megan Smith, the #4 scorer in Coupeville High School girls basketball, will be the new head coach of the program beginning this winter.

Smith, a 2010 CHS grad, replaces Scott Fox, who stepped down after two seasons to focus on his health.

Her hire will be official when the school board approves it at its next meeting.

A three-time Female Athlete of the Year during her days as a Wolf, Smith earned 12 letters playing volleyball, basketball, and softball.

On the hardwood, she led Coupeville in scoring all four seasons she played, from 2006-2007 through 2009-2010.

Smith finished with 1,042 points (or likely more, as a couple of games from her era are still unaccounted for in my pursuit of every point scored in a CHS varsity hoops contest.)

After high school, she played college basketball, before following her parents, Willie and Cherie Smith, into education — both as a teacher and coach.

Prior to nabbing the CHS head coaching gig, she put in two seasons at the middle school level, then another two as the high school JV coach.

Now she inherits a job her father held from 1994-2000, a time period when her mom was his main assistant on the bench.

That duo were the first to take a CHS girls hoops team to the state tourney, and the first to win a game with a Wolf girls team at the big dance in any sport.

Megan Smith inherits a squad which could return its entire roster from last season, since Coupeville had no seniors play during a pandemic-altered campaign.

Junior Audrianna Shaw led that team in scoring, while 8th grader Savina Wells edged big sis Izzy, a junior, for the #2 position.

“I’m so excited to continue to be a part of this basketball program that has always been such a big part of my life!,” Megan Smith said.

“I can’t wait to get on the court and get to work. We have a great group of athletes already and I know we are going to crush it this year.”

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Former Wolf Katie Kiel (left), seen with lil’ sis Kacie, is back in the Coupeville Middle School gym, this time as a coach. (Photo courtesy Lanie Kiel)

“Well first I’d like to say Aloha to everyone again!”

There’s a familiar face in the gym, as Katie Kiel, a three-sport athlete and Coupeville High School Class of 2013 grad, returns to the same hardwood floors where she once played in a Wolf uniform.

This time out, she’s joining Cris Matochi as a volleyball coach at Coupeville Middle School, and the duo will lead the spiker program into a new era.

Kiel’s hiring is official when the school board approves it at its next meeting, but in the meantime she’s already out on the floor, with practice having just started.

The CMS spikers play their first matches Sept. 29, with Langley coming to Coupeville.

For Kiel, who was a Wolf cheerleader as well as a basketball and volleyball player, the chance to give back to her alma mater is huge.

During her high school days, she volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club, coaching kindergarten and first grade students during basketball season.

Now she’s getting paid for wielding a clipboard, and loving every minute.

“This is my first official gig as a coach, and I’m excited about it!,” Kiel said. “I love this sport (volleyball), and I can’t get enough of it.”

She joins Matochi, who worked with the CMS spikers during a pandemic-altered season last school year, forming a potent duo.

“So far we’ve only had one day of practice, so we’re figuring it out together!” Kiel said.

Cris and I make a great team, so I think as far as coaching duties go, we both pick up where the other lacks, and we both have our places where we really shine.”

Kiel springs from a volleyball-mad family — younger sister Kacie also played for the Wolves all through middle and high school, while dad Steve is a frequent linesman for matches.

As she moves into coaching, Katie hopes to take the lessons she learned as a player, and incorporate them into helping to build new Wolf stars.

“My goals for the upcoming season for my players are for them to learn volleyball terminology, get comfortable with the basics, and learn how to be a great teammate,” Kiel said.

“My goal for this season as a coach is to make it a fun and inclusive place where these girls can feel supported and share my love for this sport,” she added.

“As for long-term, I would love to see these girls go all through high school together, pushing each other every day to make each other better.”

Kiel will aim for wins, but also knows personal growth is huge, especially at the middle school level.

“I hope they take away the life lessons, honestly,” she said.

“Being responsible for more than just yourself, being confident in your ability to learn and progress, and working hard for something you love, because it WILL pay off!”

The Kiel sisters were always two of the more outgoing athletes in Wolf Nation, hard workers who also embrace the laid-back, fun-loving Hawaiian-style life of parents Steve and Lanie.

For Katie, she wants to find that balance between being a friend and a mentor to her young athletes.

Reintroducing herself to the fan base she once played in front of, Kiel preaches positivity as she looks towards a bright future.

“I would like for them to know that as a person I love to talk and I’m (almost) always in a good mood, so feel free to chat me up!,” she said.

“As a coach, I would like them to know that school comes first, and while I love volleyball, grades are what’s most important.

“I would also like them to know that raising kids takes a village, so I encourage all Wolf fans to get involved!”

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Jennifer Morrell

Coupeville High School is staying in-house with the selection of its next cheer coach.

Jennifer Morrell, who works as a nurse for the school and is a former Wolf cheerleader, has been recommended for the position, CHS Principal Geoff Kappes confirmed.

Her hiring will be official when the school board approves it Aug. 23 at their monthly meeting.

Morrell, who patrolled the sidelines for Coupeville’s cheer squad in the mid-’90s, replaces BreAnna Boon, who stepped away to focus more time on an off-Island job and her children’s ever-expanding athletic endeavors.

Former CHS cheer guru Sylvia Arnold is through the roof over seeing one of her former athletes follow in her footsteps.

Jen was an amazing cheerleader for Coupeville High School back in my early coaching days! Back in 1995!!,” Arnold said.

“She is going to be exceptional as a coach … one who will bring the spirit back into our exhausted sports programs!

“She definitely understands what it means to be a part of Coupeville, a caregiver of lives, and a conduit of joy in the midst of uncertainty!!”

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