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Brazilian foreign exchange student Bruna Moratori is playing tennis for Coupeville High School this spring. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Moratori and teammates stretch before a practice.

Talk about a change of pace.

When Bruna Moratori traveled to America to become a foreign exchange student, she swapped life in the most populous city in the Western Hemisphere for a town with one traffic light.

Back home in São Paulo, Brazil, she lives with her parents, brother and dog amid a sea of humans in “a big, beautiful, and dangerous city.”

This year, though, Moratori has swapped a bustling city which never sleeps for a much more laid-back Coupeville, where she’s attending high school and preparing to play tennis with the Wolves.

While she’s spent a little time on the courts, this will be the first time she’s been part of a competitive team.

“I don’t play any sports at home, just sometimes for fun,” Moratori said. “I played tennis a few years ago but it was just for fun; I’ve never played against someone.

“I decided to join because I really like it and I had a lot of free time, so why not.”

When she was thinking about trying out for the tennis team, it was support from back home which made it an easy decision.

“One of the main reasons that I joined tennis was because my father encouraged me since the moment that I told him that I was thinking about it,” Moratori said.

Taking time to enjoy new opportunities has been a key part of her American adventure.

“My mother always had the dream of me going somewhere and learning a new language, so she always talked about it and I said that it would be a good experience,” Moratori said.

“I like how right now I’m in sort of a “break” from my life and I get to know a lot of different things,” she added. “Also I like to learn new cultures and the new language.”

Moratori, who turns 18 in early April, spends her free time “listening to a lot of music, reading, watching TV shows, and many other things.”

When she returns to São Paulo, she plans “to enjoy the summer; that is actually at the end of the year.”

After that she will either start college or plunge into a job.

Coming to America has helped Moratori develop new skills and find new confidence in herself.

“Here is learning English and learning how to be on my own without my family,” she said. “I still want to know other cultures and maybe learn other languages.”

Whether at home or abroad, Moratori draws inspiration from those closest to her.

“I guess I’m a little bit of every woman that have been into my life and all the books that I’ve read,” she said. “But my biggest inspirations are my mother, my grandmothers and my godmother.”

Of all the memories she will take with her, one of the biggest will be how unique her new home away from home turned out to be.

“Coupeville is a very small and quiet city and I live in a huge city with a lot of people, a lot of things to do, a lot of noise, traffic and all of that,” Moratori said. “I miss there, but I really like here, it’s beautiful and people are so nice to each other.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m completely adjusted because it’s very different from there, but I’m sure that when I go back I’ll have to readjust to there,” she added.

“Coupeville reminds me a lot of our countryside, so it’s kind of what I expected, but a few things were very weird for me, like people waving at me, even though I don’t even know them.”

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“So, we meet again, my old friend!” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The CHS varsity softball squad, ready to take aim at nabbing a second-straight league title.

Eryn Wood limbers up her tennis elbows.

If this prairie spring plays out like most of the ones before it, this is the final time the Wolf JV sluggers will see the sun.

You shoot, Wolf goalie Dewitt Cole denies you. The circle of life.

Wolf netters throw down an old-fashioned gun show.

Chelsea Prescott comes up firing.

Megan Behan gets ready to launch her javelin into the (surprisingly sunny) sky.

One week until the games count.

Next Saturday, Mar. 9, brings with it the first regular season spring sports clash for Coupeville High School.

Chimacum is the foe, boys soccer is the game, and it all goes down starting at 12:30 PM at Mickey Clark Field.

After that, softball, track and field, baseball, and girls tennis will get going, and, before you know it, spring sports will be in full swing.

In the week to come, we’ll be running preview stories for all five programs.

I can’t tell you what order those articles will run, because it all depends on which coaches answer their questions first.

So, a little suspense.

As we take bets to see which CHS spring boss is first to finish their survey, and which ones waits until the final moments, some more pics from recent practices.

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Thirteen days from today, Coupeville High School soccer star Derek Leyva and other spring athletes begin practice. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A look out the window says winter, but a look at the schedule says spring.

Well, at least in terms of high school sports seasons, as we’re less than two weeks from the first practices.

Whether or not we’re still trapped in a new ice age at that point, Monday, Feb. 25 marks the start for Coupeville High School track, baseball, soccer, tennis, and softball.

The first game arrives Mar. 9, when the Wolf boys soccer squad welcomes Chimacum to town for a non-conference tilt.

As you mentally prepare yourself for a typical Central Whidbey spring sports season of sideways rain and howling prairie wind, as opposed to snow and ice, here’s a look at all the team’s schedules.

You may notice a few quirks which come along with being in a new league this season.

After bouncing from team to team in a haphazard manner in the Olympic League, Coupeville baseball gets to return to how life was back in the Cascade Conference.

Teams will play the same league opponent three times in one week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), either going home, away, home, or away, home, away.

That gives squads a chance to play actual series, like college or MLB teams do, and forces coaches to make more adjustments as they take into consideration state-mandated pitch count limits and other factors.

Softball also plays each league foe three times, though those meetings are scattered across the schedule, and King’s doesn’t field a team in the sport.

Boys soccer and girls tennis face off with conference rivals twice, but the netters will see a different line-up than anyone else.

Neither Cedar Park Christian or Sultan have tennis teams, but Friday Harbor, the only school to play the sport in the 2B/1B Northwest League, is taking one of their slots.

It makes sense, as the Wolverines are a longtime Coupeville rival, and 1A, 2B, and 1B all compete in the same state tourney in tennis.

Finally, track and field boasts its most home meets in forever.

The Wolves, still enjoying the “new oval” smell of their renovated running surface, have a pair of three-team league meets and an invitational scheduled to play out in front of local fans.

With trips to Oak Harbor and South Whidbey also on the schedule, Coupeville will stay on Whidbey Island for five of nine regular-season events currently on the schedule.

And, one last word of warning — only a fool expects spring sports to play out 100% to schedule.

Unless the weather gods take pity on us after giving us the shaft this past week-plus, keep one eye peeled for updates.

 

Coupeville Schools:

https://coupeville.tandem.co/

 

North Sound Conference:

http://www.nscathletics.com

 

So, as of Feb. 12, this is where things are for CHS varsity teams, with * indicating a league game.

 

BASEBALL:

Tues-Mar. 12 — Friday Harbor (3:30)
Fri-Mar. 15 — @Lynden Christian (3:00)
Sat-Mar. 16 — Overlake (1:00)
Mon-Mar. 18 — @Cedar Park Christian (6:30)*
Wed-Mar. 20 — Cedar Park Christian (4:00)*
Fri-Mar. 22 — @Cedar Park Christian (6:30)*
Mon-Mar. 25 — Chimacum (4:00)
Wed-Mar. 27 — @University Prep (TBD)
Mon-Apr. 1 — @King’s (6:00)*
Wed-Apr. 3 — King’s (4:00)*
Fri-Apr. 5 — @King’s (6:00)*
Mon-Apr. 8 — South Whidbey (4:00)*
Wed-Apr. 10 — @South Whidbey (4:00)*
Fri-Apr. 12 — South Whidbey (4:00)*
Mon-Apr. 15 — Sultan (4:00)*
Wed-Apr. 17 — @Sultan (4:00)*
Fri-Apr. 19 — Sultan (4:00)*
Mon-Apr. 22 — Granite Falls (4:00)*
Wed-Apr. 24 — @Granite Falls (4:00)*
Fri-Apr. 26 — Granite Falls (4:00)*

 

BOYS SOCCER:

Sat-Mar. 9 — Chimacum (12:30)
Mon-Mar. 11 — Mount Baker (5:00)
Thur-Mar. 14 — @Meridian (4:30)
Sat-Mar. 16 — @Nooksack Valley (1:00)
Tues-Mar. 19 — King’s (6:45)*
Fri-Mar. 22 — Sultan (6:45)*
Tues-Mar. 26 — @Cedar Park Christian (6:00)*
Fri-Mar. 29 — @South Whidbey (6:00)*
Mon-Apr. 1 — @Forks (3:30)
Tue-Apr. 9 — Granite Falls (6:45)*
Fri-Apr. 12 — @King’s (7:00)*
Tues-Apr. 16 — @Sultan (7:00)*
Fri-Apr. 19 — Cedar Park Christian (6:45)*
Tues-Apr. 23 — South Whidbey (6:45)*
Thur-Apr. 25 — @Granite Falls (6:00)*

 

GIRLS TENNIS:

Mon-Mar 11 — @Port Angeles (4:00)
Thur-Mar. 28 — King’s (3:30)*
Mon-Apr. 8 — @Chimacum (4:00)
Tues-Apr. 9 — South Whidbey (3:30)*
Thur-Apr. 11 — @Friday Harbor (3:30)*
Tues-Apr. 16 — Granite Falls (3:30)*
Tues-Apr. 23 — @King’s (3:30)*
Thur-Apr. 25 — @ South Whidbey (3:30)*
Tues-Apr. 30 — Friday Harbor (3:30)*
Thur-May 2 — @Granite Falls (3:30)*

 

SOFTBALL:

Tues-Mar. 12 — Friday Harbor (3:30)
Fri-Mar. 15 — @Lynden Christian (3:00)
Sat-Mar. 16 — Lakewood (1:00)
Thur-Mar. 21 — Cedar Park Christian (4:00)*
Tues-Mar. 26 — @Granite Falls (4:00)*
Thur-Mar. 28 — @Sultan (4:00)*
Sat-Mar. 30 — @Forks (1:00)
Sat-Apr. 6 — Meridian (1:00)
Tues-Apr. 9 — South Whidbey (4:00)*
Mon-Apr. 15 — Cedar Park Christian (4:00)*
Wed-Apr. 17 — @Granite Falls (4:00)*
Fri-Apr. 19 — @Sultan (4:00)*
Tues-Apr. 23 — South Whidbey (4:00)*
Thur-Apr. 25 — Chimacum (4:00)
Mon-Apr. 29 — @Cedar Park Christian (4:00)*
Wed-May 1 — Granite Falls (4:00)*
Fri-May 3 — Sultan (4:00)*
Tues-May 7 — @South Whidbey (4:00)*

 

TRACK AND FIELD:

Thur-Mar. 14 — @Oak Harbor Jamboree (3:30)
Thur-Mar. 21 — HOME vs. S. Whidbey, Granite (4:00)*
Thur-Mar. 28 — @King’s (4:00)*
Sat-Mar. 30 — Coupeville Invite (11:00)
Thur-Apr. 11 — HOME vs. King’s, Cedar Park (4:00)*
Sat-Apr. 13 — @Cashmere Invitational (12:00)
Thur-Apr. 18 — @Sultan (4:00)*
Sat-Apr. 20 — @Lil’ Norway Invitational – N. Kitsap (11:00)
Thur-Apr. 25 — @South Whidbey (4:00)*

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Payton Aparicio, coming to a Hall o’ Fame near you. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Maybe it was fate.

Payton Aparicio springs from a family rich in sports success, from her parents and grandparents to aunts and uncles and cousins galore.

From the Stuurmans trunk in the middle, to the Bepler and Aparicio branches folding around the base, the ol’ family tree is one of the strongest you will find in Coupeville athletics.

But, as talented as her relatives are, I’m going to go out on my own limb here and say Payton is the best the family has produced.

A soaring star in both volleyball and tennis, who could have been a basketball sensation as well if she hadn’t given up the sport after middle school, Ms. Aparicio is an extremely easy pick for induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

So, where that’s where we’re placing her today, as we swing open the doors and welcome her into our lil’ digital institution.

After this, you’ll find her at the top of the blog under the Legends tab, sharing space with dad Mitch.

Payton was somewhat deceptive as an athlete.

I know she worked hard, in practices and games, but she has a rare quality of making every action look effortless.

She was the very definition of smooth, regardless of the sport, almost catching you by surprise when you realized how much of an impact she was having.

And that impact was major.

When Aparicio was named Coupeville High School’s Female Athlete of the Year shortly before graduation last spring, it was a lifetime achievement prize in many ways.

Her senior athletic year had been beyond-solid, but when coaches voted, I am confident they were also looking back at the previous three years.

Remembering her precision, her power, and, this is huge, the manner in which she always carried herself.

Aparicio displayed a quiet confidence, rarely (if ever) appearing shaken by the magnitude of the moment.

Who knows if her brain was yelling madly and bouncing off the walls when she went to serve for a match. If so, she never let us see anything other than a serene, locked-in, spirit.

On the volleyball court, Aparicio could soar to the roof and smash with the best of them, while also being nimble enough to scrape dig after dig off the floor.

Her serving was impeccable, deadly and consistent, and she graduated with the school record for most aces in a single match.

From a freshman who blasted a ball into the rafters at South Whidbey, and got the ball to rest on a beam and never come back down (it may still be up there), to a senior who was team MVP on the first Coupeville squad to go to state in more than a decade, Aparicio was a quiet killer.

Her laser focus, mad skills, and assassin-like demeanor translated beautifully to the tennis court, as well.

From the moment they first stepped on the CHS court as freshmen, she and Sage Renninger were the #1 Wolf doubles duo, and they never, ever let anyone come close to taking their title.

Peppering foe after foe, they mixed precision shot-making with raw power, like when Aparicio pegged a rival with a match-winning shot, inflicting physical and emotional pain with one superbly-placed smash.

The duo ended their tennis, and high school careers, with a 4th place finish at the state tourney, winning three of four matches in the Eastern Washington heat.

Their only loss was a tough three-set affair against a private school duo who went on to win a second-straight title, and no one in the tourney came closer to upending the champs than Aparicio and Renninger.

The 4th place finish was the second-best in CHS tennis history, behind just Mindy Horr and Taniel Lamb’s 2nd place showing in 2005, and it’s fitting all four of those standout netters now share space in the Hall o’ Fame.

When I look back on Payton’s prep sports career, I see talent, I see commitment, I see accomplishment, I see a young woman who always put team first.

What do I see? I see one of the best to ever wear a Wolf uniform, that’s what I see.

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Sage Renninger, the newest addition to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Underrated in the extreme.

Over the past four years, Sage Renninger has been, without a doubt, one of the best athletes to wear a Coupeville uniform.

Graceful, hard-nosed, a quiet warrior who let her play do the talking for her, she carved out her own path, and it was a very successful one.

Having given up basketball after middle school, Renninger showcased her athletic skills a bit off the beaten track, starring in soccer and tennis.

The first of those is a sport in which my base of knowledge is, admittedly, limited.

I don’t understand a lot of the intricacies of the “beautiful game,” and often times revert back to frustration over the sport being satisfied with ties, and the number of times a play is just starting to get interesting, only to have the ball nick a random knee and shoot out of bounds.

I am not the person who is going to sit here and rhapsodize about the mystical joy of fútbol.

That being said, I can, and do, appreciate the level of commitment it takes to even play the sport, much less be a star.

And Renninger was a true star on the pitch.

Through four years in a Wolf uniform, which culminated with being a captain her senior year, she was as steady as they come.

Renninger could net you goals (the one part of soccer idiots like myself understand), but she was also a rock for Coupeville, controlling the pace and flow of the game.

She didn’t scream and holler, at least not on the pitch, but her teammates leaned in to hear her words, and they responded.

It takes a deft hand to be a true leader on a sports team, to command respect with your play, your attitude and an unshakable belief that you and your teammates will find a way to success, no matter the odds.

Few leaders have been as effective, or as well-liked by their teammates, as Renninger.

So, while I freely admit I don’t always understand soccer on a deeper level, I do recognize greatness, and there is no doubt in my mind Sage is one of the best the CHS girls program has been blessed to claim as one of its own.

Her other sport, tennis, is exactly the opposite, and exactly the same.

It’s the opposite, in, that having played the sport myself during my Tumwater High School days, I see the strategy behind the shots and have a far greater base of knowledge and appreciation for what is playing out.

And it’s the same, because Renninger, just as she did on the soccer pitch, was a serene, high-achieving wonder on the hard court.

She and partner Payton Aparicio were the #1 doubles team from the moment they first stepped on the court as freshmen, and they never let the crown slip from atop their heads.

Over the course of four years, they were, quite simply, the gold standard, the best Wolf duo since Mindy Horr and Taniel Lamb came within a handful of points of winning the 2005 state championship.

Renninger, who brought a potent mix of power and pace to the court, possesses a rare intangible which is often found in top tennis players.

In short, she abided.

By that, I mean, she never got too high when success came her way, and never got too low when defeat made a rare appearance.

Watching Renninger exit the court after a match, whether during her freshman season or her senior campaign, it always looked the same.

Perhaps a small smile, sometimes a more-enthusiastic racket bump with Aparicio, but always under control, always giving little away to her opponents.

She circled her foes like a shark, and watch a shark as it moves – there is often a calmness to its movements right before an attack.

When the death ‘n destruction came, her racket snapping off winners, Renninger was brutally efficient, and it was beautiful to see.

She and Aparicio closed their prep careers this past spring with a phenomenal postseason run, eventually winning three of four matches at the state tourney and claiming 4th place.

The duo’s only loss was an epic three-set defeat, in which things were decided by just a handful of points, and came to the private school girls who would end the tourney with their second-straight state title.

Afterwards, Renninger shared the moment with Aparicio, with their families, and with CHS coach Ken Stange.

Having played two days in blazing heat, she looks tired but satisfied in photos from that day. She also looks, as she always did, like a winner.

Renninger didn’t always get the headlines others in her graduating class did, but she won as much respect from us as any Wolf of her generation.

So today, we open the doors to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, and welcome her into an elite fraternity.

In the days and months and years after this, you’ll find Renninger hanging out at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

Because that’s exactly what she was, in her own self-contained way – a legend.

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