Posts Tagged ‘Rants’

“Publish on social media? No sir, that’s for them fancy lads.”

You are NOT reading this on Facebook.

Or Instagram.

Or Twitter.

Or any of a million other social media platforms sprouting up, dying, then sprouting back up, like poisonous mushrooms clinging to life.

If you don’t like something I wrote here, on my blog, to dismiss it with an arch, tossed-off “Well, I don’t have social media” proves only one thing.

You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what I have been doing for the past 11 years on Coupeville Sports.

Because none of the 10,176 articles I have written have ever been published on “social media.”


Zuckerberg, and Musk, and their buddies don’t make any money off me.

After I publish a story HERE, I post a LINK to said story on Facebook and Twitter, to drive readers to my actual site.

So, yes, it’s there on social media where readers often then share the LINK, or comment on the LINK.

But a huge chunk of my readership doesn’t have social media, even the snarky ones, and it doesn’t matter, because they come directly to my blog.

You know, that place where all my articles are actually printed.

But I get it.

While Coupeville Sports is overwhelmingly positive in its coverage, there are articles which people don’t like.

When something provokes, that discussion often plays out on social media, which is the 2023 replacement for people meeting and talking in person at Videoville and Miriam’s Espresso.

Social media is the frickin’ Wild West, with people shooting off opinions like they’re gunslingers. Sometimes things get pretty dang funky.

If I was a school administrator, I’m sure I’d also want to avoid the whole mess if possible.

So, it’s a good thing I don’t publish stories on social media sites.

Makes it easy for the big bosses to monitor my written output without having to sink into the swamp.

But, as they do so, it’s always good for them to remember something else.

As it very clearly states in my “Who’s responsible for this?” section, I am NOT an employee of the Coupeville School District.

Never have been.

You ain’t never paid me a cent, and I am NOT your PR flack.

Probably should have gone that route. Might have my indoor/outdoor swimming pool by now.

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Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith, killin’ it as a male model. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This is not the way.

Sports didn’t get you into this financial hole, and taking arguably the most-efficiently run program in the Coupeville School District and kneecapping it isn’t going to solve anything.

We have one of the most-respected Athletic Directors in the state in Willie Smith, a man who is currently the Northwest 2B/1B League President.

A man who has decades in the game, a man who knows everyone and can get things done with a phone call, an email, or a nod of the head from across the prairie.

He absorbs any and all criticism, remains unflappable and upbeat, even in the worst of times, and has built strong, successful programs even as other schools around us struggle mightily to maintain numbers.

Athletic programs which largely pay their own way, in terms of ticket sales and coaches being willing to give back money from their budgets to help cover transportation costs.

But when it comes time to propose the opening cuts in Budget Wars 2023, we’re going to bounce Willie from his AD job and replace him with an already stretched-thin assistant principal whose own hours would then be cut?

Poppycock, as the kids would say.

Well, maybe the kids from the 1920’s, not the 2020’s, but anyway.

This is by no means an attack on Leonard Edlund, the aforementioned assistant principal.

He is a righteous dude who, in my opinion, has been a great hire for the district.

Working with CHS/CMS principal Geoff Kappes, he does the never-ending work to keep our upper schools operating in a safe, efficient, productive manner.

The last thing he needs is to be asked to do twice as much work for less money, while having to navigate a complex state-wide web of AD’s, coaches, athletic secretaries, bus barn bigwigs, administrators, athletes, and parents who Willie is already on a first-name basis with.

And we’re not even talking about how many new emails and/or texts the man would have to delete on a daily basis from me alone.

That part of the job alone is staggering, and something no other AD in the state has to endure.

Let Mr. Edlund do what he was hired to do – be an assistant principal. Don’t subject him to my inane ranting!

And let Willie do what he does – run an athletic program which, unlike some other departments in Cow Town schools, is a booming success.

I’m not just talking about wins and losses, or league titles, or the fact football and boys’ basketball broke 30-year dry spells and returned to the state tourney with Willie at the helm of Wolf athletics.

We are not, have never been, and likely never will be, a true athletic powerhouse in the state.

We’re not King’s or Archbishop Thomas Murphy – private schools funded (allegedly) by money from blood diamond mines owned by local parents.

And we’re not Lynden or Lynden Christian, where seemingly waves of genetically flawless teenagers emerge from the haze (or a mad doctor’s laboratory), every ponytail, every chin cleft, identical.

We’re scrappy, a farm town where not that many of the kids actually work on farms anymore, but where we can open a can of whup ass on entitled rivals every now and then.

Where Willie’s greatest success as an AD has come has been in maximizing what he has, of getting coaches and players to buy in to his plan to be competitive, and to do it in the right way.

The pandemic crushed athletics at many schools, but thanks to his leadership, Coupeville has emerged stronger on the other side.

Just look at Wolf teams this spring.

The track and field rosters, at both the high school and middle school, are the biggest they’ve been in decades.

High school baseball and softball are able to field win-happy varsity and JV teams while many league rivals are struggling to field just one squad, and girls’ tennis has no issue filling all of its varsity slots.

It’s been that way all school year for almost every sport, with football, in particular, being a bounce-back story.

After several years of rosters which could barely withstand the loss of a player here or there to injury, the Wolves topped 30 players this season and drew in massive, ticket-buying, crowds.

Look, I get it.

Schools are here for education, not sports.

But sports, especially when attention is paid to both the All-State player and the kid who has never run a lap around a track in their life, is invaluable.

Coming out of a pandemic, with mental health issues for teens a huge concern, getting kids out of their bedroom and into the sun (OK, into the prairie wind and rain…), making them a part of something bigger than themselves, is invaluable.

Sports are not bigger than education, but sports keep kids in school, and they are a lifeline for many teens.

I may not fully remember that algebra equation I solved in Mr. Luikko’s class at Tumwater back in the late 80’s.

But that time I shocked my own coach by thumping a rich-school kid on the tennis court — literally drilling him with the ball three times in my win — while my teammates climbed up the fence encircling the court?

That I remember.

And I was that kid who only stayed in school so I could play a sport, any sport.

If you’ve read any of my thousands of stories, I’m a writer thanks to hitting future Rose Bowl-winning quarterback Brad Otton in the face with an overhead during practice.

If I wanted to keep doing that, I had to stop skipping school, and what the heck, my tennis coach, Lionel Barona, was also the journalism teacher.

So, I’m just saying, my writing heir is out there right now, and he or she is probably the kid throwing worms at their friends during practice.

And if there is any AD in this state who will embrace his worm throwers and help them grow into semi-normal adults, it’s Willie freakin’ Smith.

The man, the myth, the ever-grinning legend endured a pandemic to show us the way.

Respect his authoritah!

ADs and coaches across the state fell by the wayside in a dark time, but in Coupeville, I watched as Willie refused to buckle.

He dealt with all the crap thrown at him, enforcing pandemic rules dictated by state officials, and did it in a way that Coupeville, unlike some other districts, never erupted into a full-on culture war.

Willie was firm, but he was fair – even to the asshats who deserved to be kicked where the good Lord split them.

He kept his coaches invested, he kept his athletes active, he found creative ways to honor those who lost games and seasons, he gave hope to a town at a time when it needed it most.

In the best of times, being an athletic director is never-ending work.

The schedules for next school year? Already largely in place, thanks to Willie’s work.

And then Mother Nature laughs, especially in a state and on an island bathed in liquid sunshine, and you have to scramble to rip everything up, and put it back together.

League rules change, state rules change, and ding, another 10,001 emails from the guy blogging at 2:00 AM.

All handled with a calm ease.

I have known Willie for many years, from back in the Videoville days when he first stepped off the ferry from Sequim.

As a coach, a teacher, an AD, and a father, husband, and man about town, he remains one of the best I have ever dealt with.

He is a straight shooter who can be brutally honest (in a good way), someone who doesn’t dodge responsibility, a man who has given a chunk of his life to Coupeville and made our schools immeasurably better.

We’ve already gone through this once before, where a misguided rush to save a few bucks pushed Willie out of the AD’s office.


Then, things were tweaked, he returned to the job, and guess what? Things got much better, even when the world shut down around him.

The $15,000 you “save” by stripping Willie’s AD duties is not enough to justify the lasting damage you will do.

If Mr. Edlund is the man trying to ignore my emails next year, he will give it his all. I have no doubt of that.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Edlund should be allowed to focus on holding the front line at our schools, and Willie, the man with the plan, the man whose athletic department is the gold standard in the district, should be leaning back in his chair, making things hum.

Saving a penny to set the bank on fire?

This is not the way.

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Is this the face of a man who can change? We’ll see. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

We have a problem.

And by “we,” I fully include myself.

Over the eight years that Coupeville Sports has existed, I have, on many occasions, written less than flattering things about various refs and umpires who have worked Wolf games.

Some of that was based on truth, or, at the least, what my admittedly biased brain believes to be the truth.

I’ve witnessed bad calls. Atrocious calls, even.

Occasionally seen what I believe to be bias at work.

Wondered how on Earth a human being can move down the field, or the court, or the diamond, with their head stuck so far up their nether regions.

While I haven’t screamed at the men and women in the stripes, I have used my bully pulpit — this blog — to share my thoughts on the subject.

Sometimes I have been funny about it. Or at least amused myself.

Other times I have been confrontational, rude, or far worse.

I don’t scream at the refs and umps, maybe, but I stoke the fire. I know that.

Oh, I will tell you I do it less today than I did two years ago, six years ago, or eight years ago, which is supposed to show growth. And it might.

But I still do it.

And I really shouldn’t.

People scream at games, and many say things which they hopefully regret later.

There’s a line between being involved, caring deeply, being protective, and just being rude asses.

It’s a line parents seem to be crossing more and more lately, and I see and hear it from Wolf fans at a level that wasn’t there in the past.

We are dangerously close to being the fans of the school other fans and schools talk about, and not in a good way.

I’m no innocent here.

My words, while initially not as loud as a parent swearing at a ref, ultimately last a lot longer, as they go into print, and live forever on the internet.

That’s probably worse.

There are rules for people who write for newspapers, rules I once lived under during a different part of this career.

Here, on my own blog, where I, and only I, edit my words, I have a great deal of freedom.

Freedom to be much more colorful in my writing style.

Freedom to cover what I want, when I want, how I want.

And, also, freedom to be an ass in a way I couldn’t be if my bylines were still running in the Whidbey News-Times or Skagit Valley Herald or Coupeville Examiner.

There is a guy deeply involved in sports in this town, a man who has seen the game from every side, as a player, a coach, a teacher, an administrator, and when he speaks, I do try and listen.

He made a good point recently, and he said it with a smile, but also with great seriousness.

That point is that, at a time when we are experiencing an unfortunate surge in parents being, frankly, asses, at their children’s games, especially in terms of what they scream at the refs and umps, I bear my share of the responsibility.

If I encourage that behavior, if I fan the flames, I’m as much of the problem as the person firing F-bombs like they’re manning an anti-aircraft gun.

I give the griping, the venting, the anger, an air of legitimacy. I celebrate it, and keep stoking the embers.

Coupeville Sports has, I don’t know if you’d call it “power,” but an ability to help shape the conversation.

It’s read by enough people, in the right demographics, and it continually surprises me how far out there in the universe my words travel on these here interwebs.

And I have to do better.

None of us here in Coupeville want to be thought of as ignorant hicks; we don’t want to be the town no one wants to play, not because of our skill, but because of our rudeness.

I’m not telling you not to protest when something seems wrong.

I’m not telling you not to support your team, your school, your town.

I’m not telling you to back down.

I want you to be as loud, and vocal, and supportive as possible.

But I am asking you to look down on the field, as you prepare to scream profanity at the refs and umps, who are being paid very little to make sure your children get to play competitive games, and think for a second.

Think about how the deluge of verbal crap is driving a large chunk of those men and women to quit.

I do.

There are refs and umps I have written harsh things about on this blog who I don’t see on the field anymore.

Were my words the final straw? It’s possible, and it’s deeply troubling.

Think about how the deluge of verbal crap affects your children.

Their coaches, their teachers, the school administration, are asking them to play hard but fair, to show respect for the opponent, their teammates, the refs, and the game itself.

And then their parent is screaming at the ref and asking him or her to do something anatomically impossible.

It’s amusing, until it’s not.

Or I’m bad-mouthing the same refs and umps, calling their integrity into question, giving them ample reason to think of me as a douche bag, and my town as a place they’d rather not work.

It’s amusing, until it’s not.

There will always be bad calls, though, as any reasonable person knows, “bad” often depends on which team you support, and whether the call went against that team.

We live in an angry world.

It may be naive to hope that one small slice of it — sports played by teens and pre-teens — can provide an oasis.

But, for that to even be a possibility, we all have to do better.

For my part, I’m going to try and change one aspect of my writing, by focusing less on the perceived failings of refs and umps.

There are days when it will be a struggle, I’m sure, but it’s something I need to do.

If nothing else, writing this blog, and getting input from people far more in tune with themselves, is sort of like going to therapy. Hopefully some of it sinks in over time.

I hope others, specifically CHS parents, join me in looking inward and trying to find a better balance as well.

It’s simple. We can be supportive, without being asses.

Towns should fear the arrival of Coupeville because they know its teams will dominate on the field, not because their school officials will have to debate chucking our fans out the side door, while banning me from the premises.

We are better. We just need to prove it.

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   I spent three springs playing tennis at Tumwater High School. That’s me, third from the left.

In less than 24 hours, spring sports begin.

Which means I am here, once again, to poke, prod and needle those who are sitting on the fence.

A lot of Wolf athletes will show up tomorrow for the first practice, whether softball, track, baseball, tennis or soccer is their sport.

But a fair amount won’t.

There will be the usual excuses offered, some sincere and some not so much.

So be it. It’s your choice.

Though, ultimately, that is what will nag at me personally the most.

Not that you want to go work, or study, or drive, or hang out with friends, or violate the athletic code without impunity, or any of a million little reasons you will offer for why you’re not playing a sport this spring.

No, what will bother me, personally, the most, is you have the choice to play, and you still choose to walk away.

Because I never had that choice.

For someone who makes their meager living off of writing about high school and middle school sports, I came at the job in somewhat of an odd way.

I grew up playing outside 24-7, whether it was basketball, baseball, football, churning through the neighborhood on my battered bike or waging a constant war with a neighbor kid, who, at the time, seemed super annoying.

Now, looking back, I’m pretty sure I was just as annoying, if not more so.

But what I’m saying is, I was, like most kids in the late ’70s, early ’80s, a natural athlete.

And also rail-thin. But no beard … at the time.

Playing sports was what I lived and breathed for on a daily basis.

If no one else was around, I’d play basketball myself, the Trail Blazers vs. the ’76ers, Jim Paxson knocking down jumpers over Maurice Cheeks all day long.

My dad wouldn’t put up a backboard and rim?

I used a tree with a thick, low-hanging branch, which caused weird ricochets on the rebounds and made me a better defensive player.

During this time, I was miffed my dad wouldn’t let me play little league baseball, but, since basketball was my #1 sport, I let it go without too much arguing or thought.

There weren’t any SWISH-style youth basketball options in our town back then, but, as soon as I hit middle school, I would be able to play organized basketball.

I might not have been crossing days off the calendar, but it was close.

In sixth grade there were three players on the playground who were picked 1-2-3, in fluctuating order, day in and day out, for every game.

We were all wiry guards, with similar games, builds and skills, and it was actually more exciting to be the one who got picked #2, which meant you would have to fend off the other two as they worked together.

Lee and Larry went on to play middle school and high school ball, with Larry making the high school varsity as a freshman.

I did not play in middle school or high school.

It wasn’t my choice, and yes, it still bothers me greatly to this day.

And please, do not for a second think I believe I was destined for greatness, for college or the NBA.

I was a super-skinny kid who topped out at a shade under six-foot and liked to drive people batty on defense. No one was ever gonna give me money for my hoops skills.

But man, I wanted desperately to play organized basketball, and I will always be left to wonder what my experience would have been like.

And why didn’t I play, you ask?

Growing up, I was part of a family which belonged to a rather rigid religious sect, and my father, for many years, was one of the leaders in our local branch.

Organized sports were seen as preparation for military life, something also not allowed by this group.

So, the thinking as best I understand, was why allow children to do one thing, if it was merely leading to something else which also wasn’t going to happen?

We had discussions, my father and I. We had arguments. Nothing changed.

My sister was far more vocal, while I tended to react as passively-aggressive as possible. Which meant I have sulked ever since.

It was only late in my sophomore year, after my father had stepped down from his leadership role in our church, and after I had come within 99.29% of dropping out of school, that he relented a small fraction.

Desperate to find some way to keep me in school, my mom convinced my dad to allow me to play tennis — and only tennis — and I got most of three seasons on the court.

Tennis wasn’t my first choice, my second choice or my 37th choice, but I enjoyed my time playing for Coach Barona.

I was the kid who went full-tilt every practice, then always stayed after practice to keep playing until it was so dark we couldn’t see the tennis ball anymore.

On weekends, I would bike down to the courts and play for hours more.

I still have my racket, a framed team photo from my senior year, my Tumwater High School letter and a second-place trophy from a summer tournament.

The trophy isn’t that impressive, pretty much a run-of-the-mill tennis one, and parts of it have come a bit loose over the years.

But, every time I look at it stashed away on top of a bookshelf, I remember upsetting one high school teammate, James, in the semifinals, then battling my high school doubles partner, Ari, for three-plus hours in the final.

It was a very hot day and by the end, after repeatedly trying to slug the ball off of each other’s faces, and much yapping back and forth, our coach decided we might need a change.

Suffice it to say, I played singles as a senior. Which was probably best for all involved.

That trophy stands as a perfect testament to how drive and commitment can help you achieve anything, while also offering a stark reminder that maybe I’m not the easiest person to get along with.

A fact to which many newspaper editors can attest.

During those three seasons of tennis, I came back at my father often with pleas to play basketball, but he never bent. Ever.

As an adult, I’m no happier with his choice, but time does tend to take some of the edge off of our hurts.

I don’t hate my dad.

Didn’t while he was alive and certainly don’t now that he has passed. In almost every other way, we had a great relationship.

I don’t agree with all the decisions he made, but I know he genuinely wanted the best for me at all times.

But I still wish I had been given the chance to play. And I probably always will.

So, to the Wolf athletes who sit on the fence on this Sunday night, trying to decide whether to play or not — it’s your call, not mine.

But whatever you choose, to play or sit, just be thankful YOU get to make that choice.

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   Ema Smith captures the mood of everyone in Coupeville when we think about OlympicLeague.com these days. 

Coupeville fans are told, again and again, that there is one “official” site for Olympic League news, schedules and standings.

But what if that site makes an error, then compounds it day after day, for 17 days?

And what if that site doesn’t want to hear from me or you, or pretty much anyone, that they are doing a mediocre (at best) job?

Welcome to http://www.olympicleague.com/, where incompetence is the flavor of the day … day after day after day.

So, what am I wailing about?

Jump back in time 17 days (so, two-plus weeks), land on the afternoon of Jan. 6 and the Coupeville girls basketball team beat Klahowya 29-23.

At which time, the big brains behind the Olympic League site updated both team’s overall win/loss records, but did NOT do the same for their league marks.

A small error at the time, but one compounded when day after day after day, they refuse to use two small key strokes to fix the issue.

And why is this big, at least relatively speaking?

Because most people (including a lot of newspaper writers) just take a quick scan of said standings when talking or writing about how teams are doing.

Which presently show Coupeville at 3-2 and Klahowya at 1-4.

Which isn’t true.

If you pop into the schedule for either CHS or KSS and go down and manually count up the league games, you wind up with 4-2 and 1-5 respectively, which rightfully places the Wolves in a first-place tie with Port Townsend heading into Friday’s showdown between those two squads.

But 99.6% of people aren’t going to go do that, so they buy the incorrect 3-2 and 1-4 records.

Is this end-of-the-world type of stuff? Probably not, but I am easily chafed, frequently vocal and have plenty of time on my hands to be irritating as all get out, so here we are.

Do your one job, OlympicLeague.com!

Do it for the kids!

Or just do it to get me to stop whining.

But do it!

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