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Coupeville sophomore Gavin Straub. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

When Gavin Straub looks at a football field, he sees beneath the surface.

The Coupeville High School sophomore watches the play develop, and appreciates its many moving parts all working together to create one outcome.

“There is an intellectual element to football I really enjoy,” Straub said. “You must make many split-second decisions that influence the success of the current play, and ultimately the success of the game.

“Then, there is the fact that many split-second decisions made by about a dozen other people must complement each other in order for a play to be successful,” he added. “Now, all those small decisions must be made to directly counteract the other team’s actions.

“It can get very complicated, and I enjoy that a lot.”

Of course, then there’s the chance to hit people, too.

“There is a certain physical element to football that few other sports offer,” Straub said. “Football is a great outlet for physical contact.

“To be honest, high school can generate lots of negative emotions. Well, after a rough day, BAM, you get to go hit some people,” he added. “Football is a therapy in a special way.”

Straub is in his first season with the CHS squad, but his fifth year overall.

He started playing flag football in first grade (“My friends were playing at the time, so I was naturally attracted to the sport”), then made the jump to tackle football after two seasons.

“I decided I wanted to hit some people.”

When he came to CHS, current teammate Dawson Houston reached out to him and encouraged Straub to sign up for high school football, something he took him up on this year.

Straub played baseball for the Wolves as a freshman and decided it was time to add another sport to his to-do list.

“I enjoy both sports equally,” he said. “Baseball has some unique challenges that I enjoy. These mostly include techniques such as batting, or catching a ball hit into the outfield.”

With football, there is the balance between thinking about the game and reacting, and finding a balance between the two.

“I believe I have a solid understanding of the intellectual and strategic elements of football. I also like to think I am good at coming up with solutions on the fly quickly,” Straub said. “Both of these abilities can be of great service to you out on the field.

“A lot of the areas I need to work on are simply physical fundamentals,” he added. “Especially since I have switched positions to receiver/linebacker, after I have been playing line for four years. I have a lot to learn.

“Having a good understanding of the strategic elements of football doesn’t help you when you have trouble simply catching a ball thrown to you.”

As he goes forward, Straub is intent on mastering the different parts of being a gridiron warrior, bringing his skills up to mesh with his intellectual capabilities.

“My goal for this season are to master the fundamentals of being a receiver and a linebacker, and become competent at both positions,” he said. “As for my goals for my high school football career, I eventually want to become a key player on the football team.”

When he’s not hard at work on the field, Straub, whose favorite movie is the Disney classic “Wall-E,” is busy letting his brain carry him on new adventures.

He enjoys computer programming, building electronics and robots, creating games and studying biology (“our class may get to genetically modify bacteria this year”), and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.

Straub, who wants to get an engineering degree, has been working on a robotic arm he built.

“I’m working on getting the arm to be autonomously controlled right now,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to build something that will change the world.”

As he’s progressed through school, Straub has benefited from having teachers who have made a positive impact on him, something he deeply appreciates.

“My 4th/5th grade math and English teacher, Ms. Sather, taught me how to enjoy a challenge, both inside and outside of school,” Straub said. “Ultimately, I enjoy learning because of her.

“Also, my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Stroh,” he added. “When I was in kindergarten, I really didn’t have the skills to survive in a school environment, without her working tirelessly with me both in and out of the classroom.”

Through everything — classwork, sports, and real-life adventures — Straub knows he has two people he can always rely on to have his back.

“Well, there’s my mom and dad, who gave me confidence,” he said. “Without them, I probably wouldn’t have the confidence to stand up for myself or deal with tough situations as they pop up.

“A more recent example is joining the CHS football team,” Straub added. “Without their guidance, I probably wouldn’t have the courage or the confidence to sign up for the team.”

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(Photos courtesy Taleena Sinclair)

   The photographer was never seen again after taking this picture… (Photos courtesy Taleena Sinclair)

computer

  Team members use a computer to work on the issue of deer and vehicle collisions.

board

Plotting out a challenge course.

lego

   A trio break down the Legos, while a fourth team member fuels his brain with a quick sandwich break.

guys

You know things are getting serious when the Wookie jacket comes out.

trio

Heading towards the finish line.

Check out the big brains on these kids.

Boasting a 16-student roster, up from 10 in its first year, Coupeville Elementary School’s Combined Robotics team is headed to the First LEGO League Regional Qualifiers Saturday, Dec. 3 in Mount Vernon.

While there the team, comprised of the “Wizard Piggies” and “Brick Vikings,” will compete for a slot in the state competition.

If they do so, it will be the second straight trip to the big dance for CES.

While in Mt. Vernon, the two teams will compete with research projects and on a robotics challenge course centered around the theme “Animal Allies.”

Dr. Sandi Farris of Harmony Veterinary helped the teams identify issues that arise during interaction between humans and animals.

The Wizard Piggies are dealing with the problem of deer and vehicle collisions, while the Vikings looked into the often expensive problems of horse tack.

Both teams worked cooperatively to program LEGO Mindstorm robots to run a tough challenge course, completing as many missions and racking up as many points as possible in the three-minute heats which determine robot rankings and test robot designs under pressure.

At regionals, the students will present their research findings and prototypes to a judges panel, then explain their programming and building decisions.

They’ll also have to work a surprise challenge that tests team communication, cooperation, and self-discipline without coaches or mentors to help them.

This year’s teams (last names included if provided):

Brick Vikings:

Gwen Gustafson
Hope Sinclair
Skyler
Mike
Alex N.
Jesse Cowan
Ethan
Katja Willeford
(coach)
Taleena Sinclair
(coach)

Wizard Piggies:

Alita Blouin
Ryan
Aiden
Joven Light
Alex Wasik
Hayden
Quinten
Vivian Farris
Wesley Cowan
Mark Noste
(coach)
Wendy Wasik
(coach)

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Sophomore Tyler McCalmont (John Fisken photos)

   Sophomore lineman Tyler McCalmont has 16 tackles and a sack in his first season as a Wolf. (John Fisken photo)

Football runs in the family for Tyler McCalmont.

The Coupeville High School sophomore, who has recorded 16 tackles and a sack through the first six games, is following in the footsteps of an older sibling.

“I started about five years ago, in fifth grade,” McCalmont said. “My brother was playing football and I wanted to be like him.”

He’s stayed with the sport since then, developing into a two-way terror on the line who also sees action on special teams.

“Defense is my strong area,” McCalmont said. “Tackle strategies and pass blocking when I’m on the offense (is what I need to work on).”

Having moved back to Washington state from Fremont, Michigan in February, he’s in his first season of Wolf football, but has adapted quickly to his new environment.

“I like the sense of family, the camaraderie,” McCalmont said. “I would like the team to continue to work together, and for everyone to be a part of it.”

Over the years, he’s drawn inspiration and support from “my father, several coaches, and, most recently, my grandparents.”

McCalmont wrestled in Michigan, but CHS doesn’t have a mat squad, so he will fill his time with other pursuits after football season wraps up.

“I’m learning to play the guitar at school,” he said. “I like to hunt, fish, go camping, and play video games.

“I’d like to start my own YouTube channel someday.”

He singles out guitar and robotics as his favorite classes, and, while undecided about his future, is leaning towards pursuing the military or a trade school after graduation.

Until then, McCalmont will continue to school foes on the gridiron, much to the delight of Wolf fans.

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