Posts Tagged ‘North Sound Conference’

   Coupeville Sports is changing, but the mission remains the same — to tell stories about prairie athletes. (David Stern photo)

Less USA Today and more Sports Illustrated.

After six years of writing my blog, running it in 24-7-365 mode, I’m changing things up.

I want to step back from cranking out 3-5 articles a day, every day, and approach things in a new way.

I’m shutting down Coupeville Sports after this article.

After three days of allowing readers to vent, my Twitter and Facebook accounts vanish June 1.

I’m not deleting the blog, just not adding any more stories.

All 6,200 articles will still be here and can be accessed at any time.

This is not the end, though.

Instead of a daily crush of game stories, stats, photo essays, half-assed instant analysis, injury updates and driving people batty as I harass them for scoops on hirings and the like, I want to step back and take the long view.

After taking the summer off, to spend time with my nephews and help my sister start her farm, I’ll return to cover Coupeville High School sports during the 2018-2019 school year.

But, instead of blogging, I’ll be working on a book, tentatively titled “A Year on the Prairie.”

Unlike my previous two books, “Memoirs of an Idiot” and “Bow Down to Cow Town,” which were collections of essays and columns (and can be found on Amazon and in Sno-Isle libraries, nudge, nudge), this will be a traditional book.

Freed from focusing on wins, losses and who scored, freed from spending hours mind-numblingly transcribing stats, freed from all the side stuff, I can go deeper.

To tell stories about what happens behind the scenes and in the smaller moments of a season, to focus more on the experience of small town sports instead of just the result.

Doing this will change how and when I write, something I have wanted to address since my nephews moved to Whidbey this spring.

This coming school year could, and should, be a pivotal moment in CHS sports history.

A new league beckons, and, with the change, a return of old rivals and the debate between public and private schools playing on the same field.

The football program is about to hire its fifth coach in nine years, cross country returns after a two-decade absence and volleyball continues to grow at an amazing rate under a young, charismatic coach.

Several athletes at CHS are chasing career records and hoping to land college gigs as their prep careers wind down.

Beyond that, there are questions I have always had, and would now have time to pursue in greater depth.

What is life really like for an athletic director?

What do soccer fans find so enticing about a sport which drives me batty?

What drives track moms, the most die-hard of fans, to travel hundreds of miles to watch their child compete for 10 seconds?

That just the tip of the iceberg, and every sports year offers its own surprises and unexpected story-lines.

Freed from having to pound out stories on a daily basis, I will be able to travel to more road games, to track down stars of the past, to reflect on the history of sports in Coupeville.

To tell a more complete story, to craft an epic tale instead of just pounding out small chapters and then immediately moving on to the next “breaking news” nugget.

After six years and 6,200 articles, it’s time to take my reporting and writing in a different direction.

Hopefully you, my readers, will be waiting for me at the end of my detour. And not with pitchforks…


A message for my supporters:

I have lived, survived, and generally thrived, thanks to my readers.

Whether you bought an ad, purchased a book, or donated to the cause, you made it possible for me to keep blogging.

For those who want to continue to help keep my fingers typing as we move from blog to book, it is greatly appreciated.

The PayPal link at the top of the blog remains fully functional, my mailing address is 165 N. Sherman, Coupeville, WA 98239, my email is davidsvien@hotmail.com and you can find me at pretty much every home game.

The style may change, but the mission remains the same.

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   Coupeville HS/MS Athletic Director Willie Smith has some words of wisdom for you. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Everything is in flux, with Coupeville jumping to the new North Sound Conference next school year, after being denied a chance to drop from 1A to 2B.

Into the fray wades one man, a gleam in his eyes and a deep burning commitment in his heart.

Wolf Athletic Director Willie Smith is here to kick you in the rear, pull you up by your bootstraps and calm your frazzled nerves.

A word (or three) from the big man himself:

Do what you can’t!

As we move into a new middle and high school league, together again with familiar schools such as King’s, Sultan, Granite Falls, South Whidbey, and our newest school, Cedar Park Christian, I believe this statement strikes a tone which rings very true for us.

What do we believe about Coupeville athletics?

Do we believe it’s an unfair advantage to pit public school athletes verse private school athletes?

Do we complain because we are the smallest 1A school, not only in our conference, but in the state?

Do we make excuses for not working out, attending summer camps/clinics, or not playing because (fill in the blank here)?

Is it the coach’s fault, other player’s fault, “we don’t win, so what’s the point of trying or turning out?”

What do YOU believe about Coupeville athletics?

As I’ve moved from player, coach, Athletic Director, retired coach, and back to Athletic Director, I’ve experienced possibly every league configuration, various levels of competition, equity in school size and disparity in school size.

I’ve heard every excuse in the world as to why we can’t compete, don’t win, don’t have good coaches, have poor support, yada, yada, yada…

The one thing that rings true throughout the entire span of my association with athletics is that no matter what the situation, good teams have the same intangibles: work ethic, leadership, commitment, and the ability to overcome adversity.

Do what you can’t.

1996-97 girls basketball team: lose two starters prior to districts, enter districts as #4 seed, play Lynden Christian, ranked #1 in state.

Down by two at half, they’ve taken off the press because it doesn’t work, end up losing by 12.

Play three loser-out games in a row, winning two, face King’s in loser out/winner to state, up 10-0 after 1st quarter, end up losing by 10 to eventual state champs who play Lynden Christian in championship … all with eight girls on the entire team.

Do what you can’t.

1999-2000 girls basketball team: new school in our league named Archbishop Murphy.

Playing with two seniors, one junior, a sophomore, and a freshman starter, win league, beat Murphy by 24 on home court, beat Murphy in loser-out to get to state tournament on a shot hit by 5’8” player over two 6’0 girls.

Down 15 at half in game two, loser-out, at state, storm back to win first-ever state tournament game in Coupeville girls athletics.

Do what you can’t.

2007 football team — down 12-0 in fourth quarter, score twice in last six minutes of game to win, and get to within one game of state tournament.

The 2007-08 track and field team that captured fourth as a team.

2007-08 baseball team, win-less in previous season of Cascade League play, finish third, take first in sub-districts, first in tri-districts, state appearance.

Do what you can’t.

2013-14 baseball, after going 0-fer freshman year and having the ten-run rule in effect for 10 of 16 games, finish 16-10 and a state appearance.

Do what you can’t.

I don’t mention these because I’m patting myself on the back as the coach.

I mention these teams, and I could go on with many other teams and individuals, but because I know, firsthand the work, the effort, the commitment, and their ability to handle adversity.

People will often say that those teams and individuals that won league titles, made it through districts and participated/placed at the state tournament had a lot of talent.

True, but what made them successful wasn’t the talent they had but the way they worked to raise their talent levels.

Our high-achieving teams and individuals don’t leave on vacation during the season, they don’t miss workouts in the summer or spring, they don’t make excuses as to why they aren’t being successful, they don’t take the easy road.

They work, they fight, they push themselves and others, they’re coachable and they’re committed.

They believed in what their coaches were teaching them, they trusted the process, they understood that you can’t beat somebody just because you’re more talented, and they certainly didn’t care who it was they were playing.

They were sure, they were confident, they believed, and they put the work in without question and without reserve.

Do what you can’t.

I keep repeating this and this is why — our sports programs are at a point where our community, parents, and kids need to make a choice, the same choices that our coaches have had to make.

Are we willing to commit to our programs, our coaches, and each other?

Are we excuse-makers or are do we accept accountability?

Do we work as hard as we can, every day, to push ourselves and our talent to the highest level or are we afraid of failure?

Failure isn’t a bad thing, in athletics and in life it should be accepted as a means to reach our goals.

If we choose not to fail then we choose not to excel, learn, or grow and we will never reach any height other than the one we are currently at.

Our coaches have dedicated themselves to providing opportunities throughout the spring and summer to help reach our goals.

Our current coaching staff understands commitment to our athletes, they are willing to give up time to help make our kids better people, teammates, and players.

They are determined to make an impact in our new league and beyond.

Are we ready to join them?

You will see “Do What You Can’t” on t-shirts worn by every coach and every athlete next year; it will be posted in the weight room, around the gym.

Take a risk, join a team, be part of something that is bigger than ourselves and you just may find out how rewarding, how strong you are, and how far you can actually go once you let go of all the self-imposed guards you’ve put up.

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   A mere six months until Friday Night Lights return to the prairie. (David Stern photo)

Is 198 days before the first game too early to talk about the Coupeville High School football schedule?

Of course not.

Sure, the Wolves don’t even have a head coach right now, as Athletic Director Willie Smith conducts a search to replace the departed Jon Atkins.

The plan is to have a new gridiron boss in place by May, one whose career track will more closely emulate former coach Ron Bagby (25+ years) than the four guys who have combined to deliver eight seasons since Bags retired.

But, while we wait for that announcement, the Wolf football schedule has popped up online, and it reflects a mix of the past with the future.

To get right to it, this is what’s planned as of today, with (*) marking league games in the new North Sound Conference.

Aug. 31 @ Port Townsend — (6:00)
Sept. 7 Vashon Island — (6:00)
Sept. 14 Friday Harbor — (TBD)
Sept. 21 @ La Conner — (7:00)
Sept. 28 King’s (*) — (7:00)
Oct. 5 Sultan (*) — (7:00)
Oct. 12 @ South Whidbey (*) — (7:00)
Oct. 19 @ Cedar Park Christian (*) — (7:00)
Oct. 26 Granite Falls (*) — (7:00)

First things first, it’s a nine-game schedule, and not 10 games as it was the past two seasons when CHS played as part of the Olympic/Nisqually League hybrid.

Week #10 will play out in one of three ways for Coupeville football.

Finish in the top two in their six-team league and they are playoff-bound.

Miss the postseason but finish third or fourth and the Wolves get a season-ending crossover game with either the #3 or #4 school from the 1A division of the Northwest Conference.

That four-team league features Meridian, Nooksack Valley, Mount Baker and Lynden Christian.

The schools which finish fifth and sixth in the North Sound Conference football standings will be given an option of playing a crossover game against another non-playoff team.

If they choose to do so, it will be up to their AD’s to find an opponent.

A major plus is the schedule has CHS playing five games at home, and six on Whidbey.

The only road trips are short hops to Port Townsend and La Conner and a little bit longer one (47.2 miles) to Bothell.

Which, I’d like to point out, is still six miles shorter than a trip to Silverdale to face Klahowya has been the past four years.

The season kicks off with rematches with the RedHawks and Pirates, though this time they will be non-conference foes.

Then comes back-to-back tilts with a pair of Northwest 2B League schools who would have been new league mates if the WIAA had approved Coupeville’s bid to drop from 1A to 2B.

After that, the heart of the season is five league games as Coupeville and its compatriots open play in their new league.

It’s not marked yet, but Homecoming likely falls either Sept. 28 or Oct. 5.

After several years of opening the season against South Whidbey, the annual battle for The Bucket, which Coupeville has won two years straight, now drops much deeper into the season.

Add the intrigue of it being a league game again, and the stakes are just that much higher.

Some may ask why Coupeville immediately returns to Langley in 2018 after playing there in 2017, but that’s because a new league, and the two-year schedule that comes with it, just happens to break down that way.

The Falcons will fly to Cow Town in 2019.

While the Wolves will be a different team this fall, having lost a number of key seniors and facing a coaching change, they match-up well with their proposed foes.

Coupeville went 3-1 against teams from this schedule in 2017, beating La Conner, Vashon and South Whidbey, while falling to Port Townsend.

Eight of the nine teams the Wolves are scheduled to play in 2018 had losing records in 2017, including, yes, King’s, which finished 3-7.

The lone school coming off of a winning season is South Whidbey, and that comes with a caveat, as the Falcons, taking a year off from the 1A/2A Cascade Conference to rebuild their program, ran the table against much-smaller teams.

After absorbing losses to fellow 1A schools Coupeville and Chimacum to open, the Falcons won their final seven while facing 2B schools and a Canadian program playing football for the first time.

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   After this season, South Whidbey’s athletes will no longer call the 1A/2A Cascade Conference home. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

And it’s gone.

Coupeville’s old stomping grounds, the 1A/2A Cascade Conference, is no more.

The league, fractured by defections and forfeits, will cease to be at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

In its place, the league’s (soon to be) five 1A schools are striking out on their own and forming the North Sound Conference, which begins play in fall 2018.

South Whidbey, King’s, Cedar Park Christian, Sultan and Granite Falls, which is dropping from 2A back to 1A next year, will form the new league.

Cedarcrest and Archbishop Thomas Murphy, which were the only remaining 2A schools in the Cascade Conference after Lakewood bailed, are now free agents seeking new homes.

Four years ago, the Cascade Conference was an eight-team league.

After Coupeville left to join the newly-formed 1A Olympic League, Cedar Park Christian took its slot.

Things began to fracture shortly after, though, with every league team except King’s refusing to face ATM on the football field, which generated national media attention.

When a “super” league, which would have combined the Cascade Conference, Wesco South and the Northwest Conference for football only, fell through, Lakewood took all of its programs and bounced to the 1A/2A/3A NWC.

This past season, league schools returned to playing ATM in football, with the exception of South Whidbey.

Trying to rebuild their gridiron program, the Falcons asked for permission to play a non-conference schedule against smaller schools.

After losing to fellow 1A schools Coupeville and Chimacum to open the 2017 football season, South Whidbey won seven straight games against B schools and a Canadian program new to football.

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