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Posts Tagged ‘sportsmanship’

Coupeville grad Sarah Wright is now a college softball sensation. (Photo property Sewanee softball)

Sarah Wright brought her manners with her to college.

The Coupeville High School grad was honored Monday, named to the Southern Athletic Association Winter/Spring All-Sportsmanship Team.

Now a freshman at Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee, Wright is a key member of the Tiger softball team.

Before the season was stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic, she had started all 16 of her team’s games at catcher.

Wright led the team in home runs and RBI, and was second in batting average, hits, and total bases.

Sewanee had athletes honored for basketball, swimming and diving, baseball, softball, lacrosse, golf, track and field, and tennis.

Back in her Coupeville days, Wright was the CHS Class of 2019 Valedictorian, starred for Wolf softball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer teams, and once came dangerously close to eating a worm to entertain her teammates.

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CHS net guru Ken Stange and his boys tennis squad nabbed their second-straight Best Sportsmanship award from the Emerald City League. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They still like us.

For the second-straight year, the ultra-exclusive, private school-dominated Emerald City League bestowed its Best Sportsmanship award to the Coupeville High School boys tennis team.

The award is a testament to longtime Wolf net guru Ken Stange, and the lessons he has imparted to his players.

CHS competes in the North Sound Conference for every sport except one, and that’s boys tennis, as South Whidbey is the only other school from that six-team league to heft rackets.

So the two Whidbey schools linked up with the ECL, widely considered the toughest 1A tennis league in the state.

The other schools involved include Eastside Prep, Bear Creek, Overlake, The Bush School, Seattle Academy, and University Prep.

Despite being one of only two public schools in the league, and the farthest trip for the Seattle-based private schools, Coupeville has held up well.

The Wolves finished in fourth-place in 2018, and, with a very-thin roster this year, which forced a number of forfeits at #2 singles, still won three league matches.

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Lillian Stanwood (left) is a Coupeville soccer star with a positive attitude, talent for the game, and big hopes for her future on the pitch. (Photo courtesy Amanda Stanwood)

Remember the name Lillian Stanwood.

She’s a young soccer star on the rise, one who already has a classy attitude and a deep desire to take her game as far as possible.

Stanwood, who will be a 7th grader at Coupeville Middle School in the fall, currently plays select soccer for Northwest United.

Along with other Central Whidbey booters such as Genna Wright and Chayse Van Velkinburgh, she spent the weekend in Mount Vernon, playing in the 25th Skagit Firecracker tournament.

Stanwood competes with a team which is an age group above her own.

While her squad didn’t capture a title over the weekend, the young Coupeville star got plenty of time on the pitch.

When she wasn’t playing, she demonstrated the kind of support for other players which will benefit her greatly as she progresses in the game.

“(When she wasn’t playing) she went to the lower bracket games to cheer on her fellow club members without being prompted,” said mom Amanda. “She’s an amazing young lady and constantly displays what team support should look like.”

Stanwood has big dreams for the future, which may start as early as this fall.

With the school’s football program being shuttered, Coupeville Middle School is reportedly preparing to launch a boys soccer program in its place.

So far there hasn’t been word of a similar program for Wolf girls, so Stanwood may try out for the boys team if school officials agree.

She’s also considering playing basketball for CMS (if it doesn’t conflict with her select soccer schedule), but life on the pitch is what drives her.

“She eats, breathes, and sleeps soccer,” her mom said. “She dreams of going to the University of Washington to play, in hopes of someday playing for Reign FC.”

Like I said, remember the name Lillian Stanwood.

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   Coupeville’s basketball players celebrated big moments, but with class, part of why both its girls and boys teams were honored for sportsmanship by Olympic League coaches. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Other coaches liked them. They really, really liked them.

Coupeville’s final season in the 1A Olympic League was capped with an unusual distinction — both the Wolf girls and boys hoops squads received the conference award for Best Sportsmanship.

Pulling off the double-win, and having their players recognized by rival coaches, brought a smile to the faces of CHS coaches David King (girls) and Brad Sherman (boys).

As the duo marinated in the moment, they took time out from their busy schedules to speak about what the award means to them as coaches, and what it means to the culture of their programs.

What does winning the award mean to you personally as a coach?

King: Being voted by the other coaches for this award validates what we are trying to do as a program.

Compete every day and no matter if we win or lose we treat the game of basketball and those involved with respect.

Sherman: It’s a nice recognition for the team.

The guys can be proud of the way they played and the class they displayed on the court this year.

To have both boys and girls recognized in the same year is really a nice testament to our Coupeville athletes and their level of character.

How is winning it a positive for your program?

King: It shows that we can be aggressive and have an attitude of playing to win or never backing down. These things are needed to develop and maintain a winning culture.

We are also able to stay true to who we are and play the game the right way.

Sherman: Sets the bar where we always want it to be in regards to sportsmanship.

Character and attitude truly matter and any time that’s recognized I think it’s a really positive thing for our athletes and our program culture.

Is sportsmanship something you have preached or encouraged?

King: The great thing about the players in Coupeville, they already come with a great attitude and we as coaches don’t have to encourage the sportsmanship side of things.

I would say the one area that we do preach about sportsmanship is not running up a score.

This is a topic that does get mentioned early on every season.

Sherman: I think we just try to set a few basic expectations of what it means to be a Wolf basketball player.

At the beginning of the year the team discussed and agreed to a few basic items – one being taking pride in the name on the front their uniform.

This just meant understanding that as a team, our actions, effort, choices and words (both on and off the basketball court) are a reflection on the team, the school, and their community.

I thought the guys did a really nice job this year in that regard, and our leaders did a wonderful job setting that example and keeping their composure no matter what the situation.

I think both programs are blessed with some great, respectful young athletes who don’t need a lot of reminders about playing with class as it’s really in their nature to do so anyhow.

How do you, as a coach, balance sportsmanship with wanting your teams to whomp on people?

King: Balancing sportsmanship and having my competitive side kick in is something I’ve had to work on as a coach.

If I wasn’t competitive I wouldn’t have played sports or coach it now.

However, there has to be a balance and teaching these athletes that it’s okay to be compassionate and at the same time having the will to win.

Sherman: I think at the end of the day the focus is to work hard and do all we can to win basketball games – but win with class, lose with class, and play with the same attitude and effort regardless.

Up by 30 or down by 30, close game, physical game … at the end of the day, you just aim to be a team that goes out there and plays hard, focuses on and respects the game of basketball, and ignores all the other stuff.

Our athletes deserve a lot of credit for that this year.

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Renee Woods (John Fisken photos)

   Chimacum netter Renee Woods is skilled with a racket, but it’s her grace and spirit which will carry her the farthest. (John Fisken photos)

Bree Daigneault (John Fisken photos)

The same could be said for Coupeville’s Bree Daigneault.

Tennis has always been viewed as one of the most polite of all sports.

Fans don’t typically scream during points, players applaud well-hit shots, they call their own lines at most levels of competition and on and on.

Now, there are some exceptions — the three years I played at Tumwater High School we were a pack of wild animals who took great delight in drilling each other in the groin with the ball as often as possible.

But, by and large, tennis stands as one of the last bastions of manners and good taste.

Having watched some Coupeville High School matches this year, both boys and girls, I have to say, the game seems to be at an all-time high for sheer politeness these days.

The Wolf girls, in particular, go way out of their way to compliment their rivals on a regular basis, whether they’ve just drilled a gorgeous shot or been the victim of one.

Now, it’s safe to say CHS singles ace Valen Trujillo would most likely serve her foes tea and cakes mid-match if she was allowed (she’s a top-notch baker and probably the most sincerely nice successful athlete I’ve ever covered), but she has a fast-rising rival or two.

Wolf junior Bree Dagineault is the queen of compliments, and she never seems less than 179% sincere as she bestows them on her hard-court opponents.

Friday, as she faced off with Renee Woods of Chimacum, she might have met her doppelganger and it produced maybe the most blissful match I have ever witnessed.

Now, this was a hard-fought duel, with both players going full-tilt, often bounding along the baseline and slugging it out.

But, in between every shot, they found new ways to rain down praise on each other, and, when they exited, without hearing the score, you would have had no idea who won by their expressions, which were both beaming and topped with smiles.

Now, I once drilled one of my own teammates in the face with an overhead ON PURPOSE (well, it wasn’t just once…), but these two young women are operating in a whole different world from us late ’80s ruffians, and it’s really incredible to witness.

At one point, the following exchange was made. I swear.

“That was a REALLY nice serve.”

“Thank you! Well, you made a REALLY nice return.”

“Well thank you! That was a great rally!!”

“It was, wasn’t it!!”

“Thank you.”

“Well, thank you!!”

It never came across as sappy or cloying or fake, just two really bright, really well-adjusted high school athletes living in the moment, thoroughly enjoying the experience and proving you can compete hard without being a jerk.

As they exited at the end, after much more two-way praise, Bree turned to the Chimacum coach and said one of the best things I have heard in 25 years of covering prep sports.

“That was fun! I like playing against really nice people!”

The entire match, from start to finish, speaks well of Daigneault and Woods, their coaches and their families.

Next time you read about something cruddy happening in the world of sports, let your mind wander back to this day, this match, and rinse your mind out. Let the sunshine in.

Be like Bree. Be like Renee. Be a winner.

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