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Posts Tagged ‘volleyball’

Former Wolf volleyball star Ashley Menges is back, this time as an assistant coach. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Jordyn Rogers leads off a parade of current players working on their skills.

Gwen Gustafson

Desi Ramirez

Taygin Jump

Taylor Brotemarkle

Chloe Marzocca

Alita Blouin

Ryanne Knoblich

Masks in place, volleyball players have returned to the gym.

While there won’t be any games, in any sports, for at least a couple more months as the COVID-19 pandemic rolls on, Coupeville athletes are being allowed to participate in open gym-style practices.

Looking to get out of the house, wanderin’ photo man John Fisken swung by CHS to snap the pics seen above.

To see everything he shot, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/2020-10-06-CHS-VB-Practice/

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Chris Smith, always exuding a quiet confidence. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Jack of all trades, and also a master of all of them.

In his time at Coupeville High School, Chris Smith brought professionalism, superb teaching skills, and enough energy and spirit to light up a town on his own.

Not content to just take one job and be good at that, the father of three stepped into the thick of things, bouncing from season to season, always in uniform and always on point.

When he left us in the spring, Smith was the head varsity baseball coach at CHS, as well as being in charge of both the Wolf JV boys basketball and JV volleyball programs.

While it’s understandable we’ve lost him, in person at least, with the real world pulling him away from Whidbey after the graduation of his youngest child, his memory will live on for a long time.

Over the years, I have worked with a lot of coaches, some great, a few far less so, and Smith easily lands in the top tier.

He brought an energy and excitement to everything he did which carried over to the young women and men he coached, and it genuinely seemed to inspire many of them.

“Get on the bag, son, and stop givin’ me angina!”

There were big wins, and a few tough losses — coaching will always give you both — and Smith reacted, in public at least, as if both were the same.

When his squads pulled off victories, whether by rout or hard-fought comeback, he was quick to spread the love. Both to his players, and to his fellow coaches.

It was his steady hand and calm, but fiery, nature, which centered his team, but rarely does a squad win or lose because of just one person, and Smith knew that.

He was not a screamer, but he could, and did, get his athletes bouncing off the walls when needed.

And, just as often, he was that calm voice in the wilderness, reaching out to comfort and pick someone up at their lowest.

Smith is a people person, and also very adept at reading each individual he came into contact with, and adapting his approach to fit what will work best to maximize their response.

It’s what separates a decent coach from a great one, and I firmly believe he lands in the latter category.

Hanging out with Kory Score on Senior Night.

What is also unique about Smith is his ability to coach both boys and girls sports teams, subtly shifting his approach to fit whatever the situation might be.

In each sport, he brought out the best in his players, helping some of them to soar way past their abilities, and giving others hope.

That hope came because Smith was relentless in preaching a positive mind-set.

He wasn’t rah-rah just to be rah-rah.

Confidence, in himself and in his athletes, flowed out of Smith like water, and he always had a warm word or a grin and a quick joke for everyone around him.

Passing on wisdom to Hawthorne Wolfe.

Sports teams often take on the attitudes of their coaches, which meant his squads played with passion, but also with a quiet confidence.

Several of those Wolf teams had major comebacks, pulling out wins from contests which seemed to be well out of hand in the early going.

Smith didn’t need to scream, or throw clipboards, or wing a chair across the gym, Bobby Knight-style, to get the attention of his players.

He showed his young charges respect, asked for it back, and inspired them to reach great heights in a calm, reassured manner.

And then, without fail, he always sent stats and quotes to the ink-stained wretches in the press, or stopped to talk to us, giving of his time in a way which made you believe that was what mattered most to him in the moment.

Even if he was probably dog-tired and dreaming of dinner and some quiet time.

Smith (with big assistance from their mother Charlotte) gave Coupeville three of the most-talented athletes our town has seen in recent decades — sons CJ and Hunter and daughter Scout.

But then Chris also gave us his time, his expertise, and his conviction, playing a key role in building each of the Wolf programs he helped lead.

We’ll miss him, but wish him the best as he pursues new goals off-Island.

A piece of Smith will always be here in Coupeville, however.

It will show through each time one of his athletes has a big moment, finds something inside themselves they didn’t realize they had, and achieves greatness in life.

And he will also live on through this blog, since, after this, he’ll join his children up at the top of the page under the Legends tab.

The newest member of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, he exits the way he entered — a winner every step of the way.

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Lucy Sandahl radiates joy, on the court and off. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Lucy Sandahl brings light, happiness, and joy into the world.

And those are things we really need right now.

As the country, and, to some extent, our town, rips itself apart, marinating in ugly arguments, it’s hard at times to see the positives.

Which means we need to look harder, go deeper, and actively seek out things to celebrate.

Today, that spotlight falls on Lucy, and our praise for her is highly deserved.

With that praise comes induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, if you pop up to the top of the blog and look under the Legends tab, that’s where she’ll be enshrined as a member of a select group.

Passing on the game to the next generation. (Cory Whitmore photo)

Lucy graduated from CHS last spring (which seems like four lifetimes ago), and is currently attending Seattle Pacific University with sister Sophie.

Now, I don’t think I will hurt Lucy’s feelings too deeply when I say that, based on her career stats as a Wolf volleyball player and track and field competitor, she’s not necessarily someone who immediately jumps to mind for Hall o’ Fame induction.

But she more than earned her spot in our digital clubhouse of honor because of her spirit, because of her grace, and because there was never a moment when she gave less than her best.

Lucy, as much as anyone I have written about, seemed to take such great joy in being an athlete.

She radiated it, in every photo snapped of her in action, and every time I saw her play in person.

When you’ve just smacked a spicy service ace for an undefeated Wolf volleyball squad, and your teammates are thumping their feet on the floor around you in celebration, it’s easy to look joyous.

One ace, comin’ up. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

But it’s not so easy when you’re battling to keep your lunch down after hitting the tape at the end of a brutal long-distance race on the track oval.

And yet, look at the assembled runners, most bent over in pain, some regretting their choices in life, and there would be Lucy, the smile never far away from resurfacing.

She was hurting, and yet being out there, seizing the opportunity to get the most possible out of her high school experience, running for her friends and family, meant so much to her.

“Is that seven laps … or eight laps?”

We like to say that heart matters in sports, and, if that’s true, Lucy is the perfect example of someone whose heart was three times as big as the young woman herself.

You can call her a role player, and there is nothing but respect in that assessment, because she fully embraced her status.

Which doesn’t mean Lucy didn’t work as hard as possible, in practice or games, forever trying to perfect her craft on the court or oval.

Cause she did.

What I mean is that she was not one to pout or complain about playing time.

Instead, she asked, “What can I do?” and then she pushed herself to deliver.

Lucy believed in her team, always, and was ready to do whatever was needed to help her athletic sisters prosper.

Or at least that’s how it seemed to me as I sat in the stands over the years, watching her career unfold once she and her family arrived on Whidbey after a move here from South Carolina.

It is very easy to root for Lucy, even for those of us who are supposed to be (sort of) impartial, and very easy to come away thinking she is truly a remarkable young woman.

She is a success with the books – the Salutatorian of her class – a success in the sports world, and, most importantly, a success as a kind, generous human being.

Lucy Sandahl is a Hall o’ Famer every day, in every way, and Coupeville is a better town for her having been here.

Senior Night festivities with mom Jeannie, sis Sophie, and dad Michael.

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The ever-irrepressible Ally Roberts is the seventh member of her extended family inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.com)

Also inducted today – older sister Madeline, a true one-of-a-kind star on the softball diamond.

At this rate, we might want to think about adding a Sandy Roberts wing to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

The man himself is already well-established in our lil’ digital hall of wonders, inducted for his stellar work as both a Wolf athlete and coach.

Toss in two sons (Jon and Jay Roberts), a daughter-in-law (Sherry (Bonacci) Roberts) and, as of today, three grandchildren (Lindsey, Madeline, and Ally Roberts) also camping out there, and the family is well-represented.

While we wait for the construction of that wing, though, we have a bit of business to take care of, and that’s the induction of grandchildren #2 and #3, sisters Madeline and Ally.

They went their own ways when it came to choosing their athletic pursuits, but they were similar in always shining brightly in whatever arena they participated.

Madeline made her name on the softball field, a slap-hitting speedster who anchored the top of the lineup for the CHS softball squad.

A four-year letter winner, she was a First-Team All-League pick at shortstop during her senior season in 2014, a time when Coupeville faced off with big bads like Archbishop Thomas Murphy and Lakewood in the 1A/2A Cascade Conference.

That was the season the Wolves shocked folks by putting together a late-season run which carried them all the way to Eastern Washington for the state tournament, their first return trip to the big dance in a decade-plus.

In addition to All-League honors, Madeline ran away with the team award for Best Offense when Wolf coaches David and Amy King held their annual season-ending shindig.

Not content with merely being a high school standout, Mad Dog made the jump to college ball, as well, and with a twist.

She played two seasons on the diamond for Shoreline Community College, facing off a few times against former CHS teammate Hailey Hammer, who did her college time at Everett Community College.

But Madeline also surprised everyone when, after not playing basketball in high school, she opted to play a campaign with Shoreline’s hoops squad, acquitting herself quite nicely.

Her younger, but ultimately taller, sister was also a multi-sport athlete, juggling the equestrian world with volleyball.

On the court, Rally Ally was a ferocious hitter, ripping off knee-quaking spikes and flinging her body to the floor with wild abandon to save wayward shots.

Playing for the Wolves during a time of transition, when several coaches moved through the system, Ally saw her role change often, but she always adapted and never stopped fighting during every second she was given on the floor.

When she wasn’t in the gym, Lisa Edlin’s youngest daughter could usually be found astride a horse, winning medals and ribbons while tearing up the rodeo circuit.

It was a sport which carried Ally through both high school and college, where she was the captain of Western Washington University’s equestrian team.

She won a regional championship in Advanced Western Horsemanship in what turned out to be her final time in the saddle, before being denied a crack at nationals when COVID-19 shut down college sports.

That disappointment, while sad in the moment, will ultimately be just a small footnote for Ally, who like her big sis, has much more ahead of her left to accomplish.

As they move forward, they’ll also hang around, joining their family members under the Legends tab at the top of the blog.

They were stars during their school days — two bright, shining supernovas full of talent and skill who added bold new chapters to the tale of one of Coupeville’s most-successful athletic families.

Out in the real world, Madeline and Ally will be equally unstoppable. Of that, I have no doubt.

And when they do hit it big? We can say we knew them back when.

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Ashley Menges, flying high here, is returning to the CHS volleyball program, but as a coach this time. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Menges and Emma Smith enjoy their Senior Night during the 2018 season.

Smashley returns.

After a season on the sideline, former Coupeville High School volleyball ace Ashley Menges is rejoining the Wolf volleyball program, but as a coach this time.

Menges, who graduated from CHS in 2019 after a stellar four-year run of sets, digs, and kills, has been tabbed as the school’s JV spiker coach.

Her hire will be official after the School Board approves it.

Menges joins varsity coach Cory Whitmore, who is heading into his fifth season at the helm of the CHS volleyball program.

JV coach Chris Smith and C-Team coach Krimson Rector both stepped down during the offseason with an eye on pursuing other life goals.

For Menges, a volleyball lifer, the chance to coach at her alma mater, and in her favorite sport, is a thrill.

“It’ll be nice to be back in the gym during volleyball season!,” she said. “I’m very excited to work with all the girls.”

When I inducted Menges into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, this was part of what I wrote:

She could smoke service winners, flip end-over-end to save balls which looked like goners, soar into the heavens to smash spikes, and deliver perfect lil’ set-ups for her teammates to get the glory.

Through it all, the transcendent young woman who ended her career as a team captain, as a key player on back-to-back league title teams, as a state meet veteran who helped CHS to three straight 10+ win seasons, was pure class.

Menges is talented, is a firecracker on the floor, and worked as hard as anyone.

But it was her willingness to take on whatever role was necessary for the betterment of the team which made the biggest impression on those in the stands.

PS — If you have any doubt as to where I stand, I’ll close with this — this is a really great hire.

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