Posts Tagged ‘Willie Smith’

“Yes, David, I would love to read your zine if you fax it to me daily…” Spoiler: The fax was promptly unplugged. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Guys, guys … guys! I’m sorry, but no betting on high school golf this year.

However, every other sport appears to be, at least, technically, wide open to side wagers.

So … who’s got a few bucks to lay down on how many dingers Sarah Wright hits on the softball field this spring?

After wading through all 58 pages of the North Sound Conference handbook, one thought bubbles to the surface.

Are those country club prodigies really so quick to swap sweet moola after every putt, that the rules-makers felt it necessary to specifically prohibit gambling on golf, and just golf?

Oh yeah, and the Wild West is truly dead.

The new six-team 1A league, which claims Coupeville, Cedar Park Christian, Sultan, King’s, South Whidbey and Granite Falls, seems dead set on being all above board and proper.


I mean, they’re going to insist fans wear shirts, face paint and masks are banned, and don’t even think about bringing artificial noisemakers or vintage “Free Hayley Newman” signs to games this year.

What’s next? We all have to wear pants, too?

But I digress.

Anyway, the new league’s motto is “Prepare. Compete. Respect.”

Cause “No Fun League” was already taken?

I kid. I kid. It’s not the North Sound Conference, it’s the WIAA and the whole frickin’ state clamping down on shenanigans.

The sooner I accept we’re no longer in the free-wheeling ’90s, back when student sections could get as unruly as they liked, the sooner I can assure my press pass remains in effect.

Not that I made the list of officially-sanctioned news outlets.

The South Whidbey Record, Everett Herald and Seattle Times did, with coaches instructed to relay stats and results to those papers.

And yet I can guarantee you the non-sanctioned, dare we say underground press (we dare), Coupeville Sports and Whidbey News-Times will write far more stories about the new conference this school year.

Why, now that I have the fax numbers for all six conference Athletic Directors (thanks, handbook), I might have to hit up the thrift store, get my own faxy fax and start sending out Coupeville Sports as an old-school zine, just to prove that point.

Anyway, back to the handbook.

For year one of the league, Sultan AD Scott Sifferman is league prez, while our own Willie Smith is the money man, operating as league treasurer.

A couple of other interesting tidbits:

North Sound Conference soccer games can end with a whimper, not a bang, as league contests will NOT go to shoot-outs.

Play regulation, then make it through two five-minute “golden goal” overtime periods and you’re still tied?

It’s soccer, don’t expect a resolution … and that’s 90 minutes none of us will ever get back.

Soccer will use a 0-3 point system for each league game (you get three points for a win in regulation, two for a victory in OT, etc.) and the league champ will be based on highest point total, not necessarily the best won-lost record.

All other sports will crown team champs based on regular-season won-loss record, except for cross country, track and tennis(??), which will hail the winner of the postseason league tourney.

For the running sports, that makes perfect sense, as most regular season meets feature multiple teams and win-loss records are pointless.

For tennis, that’s a bit odd, as most leagues crown regular season and postseason tourney champs separately.

Though, other than one sentence early in the handbook (the one which lumps tennis in with cross country and track) the net game is missing in action, so who knows.

Tennis is the only sanctioned league sport to not have its own section of rules and criteria, at least in this version of the book.

So, basically, that means all bets are off … or on.

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   Coupeville HS/MS Athletic Director Willie Smith has some words of wisdom for you. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Everything is in flux, with Coupeville jumping to the new North Sound Conference next school year, after being denied a chance to drop from 1A to 2B.

Into the fray wades one man, a gleam in his eyes and a deep burning commitment in his heart.

Wolf Athletic Director Willie Smith is here to kick you in the rear, pull you up by your bootstraps and calm your frazzled nerves.

A word (or three) from the big man himself:

Do what you can’t!

As we move into a new middle and high school league, together again with familiar schools such as King’s, Sultan, Granite Falls, South Whidbey, and our newest school, Cedar Park Christian, I believe this statement strikes a tone which rings very true for us.

What do we believe about Coupeville athletics?

Do we believe it’s an unfair advantage to pit public school athletes verse private school athletes?

Do we complain because we are the smallest 1A school, not only in our conference, but in the state?

Do we make excuses for not working out, attending summer camps/clinics, or not playing because (fill in the blank here)?

Is it the coach’s fault, other player’s fault, “we don’t win, so what’s the point of trying or turning out?”

What do YOU believe about Coupeville athletics?

As I’ve moved from player, coach, Athletic Director, retired coach, and back to Athletic Director, I’ve experienced possibly every league configuration, various levels of competition, equity in school size and disparity in school size.

I’ve heard every excuse in the world as to why we can’t compete, don’t win, don’t have good coaches, have poor support, yada, yada, yada…

The one thing that rings true throughout the entire span of my association with athletics is that no matter what the situation, good teams have the same intangibles: work ethic, leadership, commitment, and the ability to overcome adversity.

Do what you can’t.

1996-97 girls basketball team: lose two starters prior to districts, enter districts as #4 seed, play Lynden Christian, ranked #1 in state.

Down by two at half, they’ve taken off the press because it doesn’t work, end up losing by 12.

Play three loser-out games in a row, winning two, face King’s in loser out/winner to state, up 10-0 after 1st quarter, end up losing by 10 to eventual state champs who play Lynden Christian in championship … all with eight girls on the entire team.

Do what you can’t.

1999-2000 girls basketball team: new school in our league named Archbishop Murphy.

Playing with two seniors, one junior, a sophomore, and a freshman starter, win league, beat Murphy by 24 on home court, beat Murphy in loser-out to get to state tournament on a shot hit by 5’8” player over two 6’0 girls.

Down 15 at half in game two, loser-out, at state, storm back to win first-ever state tournament game in Coupeville girls athletics.

Do what you can’t.

2007 football team — down 12-0 in fourth quarter, score twice in last six minutes of game to win, and get to within one game of state tournament.

The 2007-08 track and field team that captured fourth as a team.

2007-08 baseball team, win-less in previous season of Cascade League play, finish third, take first in sub-districts, first in tri-districts, state appearance.

Do what you can’t.

2013-14 baseball, after going 0-fer freshman year and having the ten-run rule in effect for 10 of 16 games, finish 16-10 and a state appearance.

Do what you can’t.

I don’t mention these because I’m patting myself on the back as the coach.

I mention these teams, and I could go on with many other teams and individuals, but because I know, firsthand the work, the effort, the commitment, and their ability to handle adversity.

People will often say that those teams and individuals that won league titles, made it through districts and participated/placed at the state tournament had a lot of talent.

True, but what made them successful wasn’t the talent they had but the way they worked to raise their talent levels.

Our high-achieving teams and individuals don’t leave on vacation during the season, they don’t miss workouts in the summer or spring, they don’t make excuses as to why they aren’t being successful, they don’t take the easy road.

They work, they fight, they push themselves and others, they’re coachable and they’re committed.

They believed in what their coaches were teaching them, they trusted the process, they understood that you can’t beat somebody just because you’re more talented, and they certainly didn’t care who it was they were playing.

They were sure, they were confident, they believed, and they put the work in without question and without reserve.

Do what you can’t.

I keep repeating this and this is why — our sports programs are at a point where our community, parents, and kids need to make a choice, the same choices that our coaches have had to make.

Are we willing to commit to our programs, our coaches, and each other?

Are we excuse-makers or are do we accept accountability?

Do we work as hard as we can, every day, to push ourselves and our talent to the highest level or are we afraid of failure?

Failure isn’t a bad thing, in athletics and in life it should be accepted as a means to reach our goals.

If we choose not to fail then we choose not to excel, learn, or grow and we will never reach any height other than the one we are currently at.

Our coaches have dedicated themselves to providing opportunities throughout the spring and summer to help reach our goals.

Our current coaching staff understands commitment to our athletes, they are willing to give up time to help make our kids better people, teammates, and players.

They are determined to make an impact in our new league and beyond.

Are we ready to join them?

You will see “Do What You Can’t” on t-shirts worn by every coach and every athlete next year; it will be posted in the weight room, around the gym.

Take a risk, join a team, be part of something that is bigger than ourselves and you just may find out how rewarding, how strong you are, and how far you can actually go once you let go of all the self-imposed guards you’ve put up.

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   Hannah Davidson and other CHS sophomores will spend the next two years in the 1A North Sound Conference. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No and, once again, no.

That was the response from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, as it denied Coupeville High School’s request to reclassify from 1A down to 2B.

After denying the original request Sunday afternoon, the WIAA also shot down an appeal Monday morning.

Despite CHS having lost 10% of its student body in the two years since the last official count in 2016 placed it as one of the smallest 1A schools in the state, the Wolves will be required to maintain the status quo until at least 2020.

That’s when the WIAA conducts its next round of state-wide student body counts and reclassification.

In the past, those counts happened every two years, but that changed when the state switched to a four-year plan in 2016.

Coupeville had 227 students in grades 9-11 then, and 1A was set at 214.5-461.24.

The parameters for 2B in 2016 were 83-214.49, and CHS, with 208 students currently in grades 9-11, falls within those guidelines.

The WIAA did not see it that way, however.

“The first decision was based on two areas: a leveling out of enrollment drop and that we would become the largest 2B school,” CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith said.

“My appeal was based on the language of the WIAA, that it was a significant drop and their placement of schools in classifications are strictly determined by enrollment numbers,” he added.

“Our numbers are below the current 2B numbers, but they didn’t feel it was significant enough of a drop and because our projected numbers showed a steady enrollment of 208 (six below the current cutoff of 214) it wasn’t enough to make the change.”

While Coupeville has been competitive in many sports in the last couple of years, it is in no shape or form a powerhouse, something Smith asked the WIAA to consider.

“In regards to being the largest 2B I argued that if we were perennial state tournament attendees or had racked up league title after league title then I would agree it wouldn’t make sense,” he said. “However, we are not that.”

If Coupeville had won approval to drop to 2B, it would have rejoined the Northwest 2B/1B League, which it played in through most of the ’70s and ’80s and part of the ’90s, competing with schools like Concrete, La Conner and Darrington.

“Traditionally, we have been in a league with the members of the NW 2B League and have never dominated,” Smith said. “In fact, they voted us in as soon as they heard we were appealing, which would strongly indicate their desire to have us back.”

While Coupeville could very likely be reclassified as a 2B school in the next state-wide counts in 2020, the WIAA decision ensures it will play at least two full school years as one of the smallest, if not the smallest, 1A school in the state.

The Wolves are leaving the 1A Olympic League at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, ending a four-year run in which they have won multiple titles in girls basketball, volleyball, baseball and girls and boys tennis.

Despite having a much-smaller student body count than Klahowya, which at 445 students in grades 9-11 was the second-biggest 1A school in the 2016 count, Coupeville has played the Eagles virtually even in varsity wins across the 11 sports in which CHS fields teams.

Both schools have been substantially ahead of league mates Port Townsend and Chimacum in titles and varsity wins.

Coupeville’s decision to leave was based on several factors, such as the unpredictability of the Port Townsend ferry, staggering travel costs and Klahowya’s desire to shave games off the league schedule starting next year.

Since they are staying in 1A for at least two years, the Wolves will join a new league, the 1A North Sound Conference, which launches this fall.

Formed out of the steaming carcass of the 1A/2A Cascade Conference, it will feature King’s, South Whidbey, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell), Sultan and Granite Falls, with Coupeville making it a six-pack.

The move reunites Coupeville with teams it played from 2006-2007 to 2013-2014.

CPC-Bothell is the only new foe for the Wolves, as the private school joined the Cascade Conference as Coupeville’s replacement when it departed in 2014.

A large selling point of the North Sound Conference is the chance for next-door neighbors Coupeville and South Whidbey to once again be aligned in the same league.

That will increase the number of times the Wolves and Falcons play in every sport, and, with the close proximity of the schools and the increased significance of the games, likely drive box office receipts upward.

With 208 students in grades 9-11, CHS will obviously be the smallest school in the league, with CPC-Bothell (249.38 in 2016) the only other school which came in under 347 students in the 2016 count.

While it might not be as ideal as returning to 2B, the new league will at least be a 1A-only league, with former 2A Cascade Conference rivals Cedarcrest, Archbishop Thomas Murphy and Lakewood not involved.

Smith, an extremely positive man who is the epitome of “whistle while you work,” sees the next two years as a chance for Coupeville to build, fight and not back down.

“It simply means that we just have to work harder, play smarter, and be more committed at every level: administrative, coaches, athletes, and community,” he said. “I’m ready for this, our coaches are ready for this and we will see if the other two can step it up.”

The decision to leave the Olympic League came before the decision to apply to drop to 2B, and it was one everyone involved in Wolf athletics openly embraced.

“Our coaches voted to move to the new league prior to finding out we could be 2B without hesitation,” Smith said. “They believe that they can take our programs to the next level and I truly believe that as well.

“No sour grapes, no feeling sorry for ourselves, just strapping up our boots and getting to work because no matter what classification we were going to end up that’s the only option we have to get better.”

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   Jake Pease and the rest of Coupeville’s underclassmen will jump to a new league next school year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Change is in the air.

After a very-successful four-year run in the 1A Olympic League, in terms of wins, titles and confidence restored, Coupeville High School is swapping leagues.

Now the question is which direction CHS goes in — down to 2B, where it thrived for many years, or to a new 1A league formed out of the smoldering ruins of its former home in the Cascade Conference.

Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith confirmed Wednesday the school would leave the Olympic League at the end of the 2017-2018 school year and outlined the wide-open future.

In his words:

Coupeville has decided to leave the Olympic League (high school) and North Olympic League (middle school) for the following reasons:

**Out of class time for students: we are very often leaving the school at 11:00-12:00 and not returning until 9:30 at night.

During district tournaments the return times are often much later, as the majority of the tournaments are in the Tacoma area (and this year fast-pitch will be traveling to Lacey to play their tourney) requiring us to take the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry at a much later time.

**Cost: we were over our transportation budget by over $15,000 last year due to the use of the ferry for every away league game in HS, every away game in MS, many non-league away games with the 2A’s of the Olympic League, travel to/from district events in Tacoma, and staying overnight for district tournaments that were two-day tourneys that played on back-to-back days.

**Scheduling: we have to schedule games around the PT/Keystone ferry schedule. Neither the ferry or reservation system works as consistently as we need and we had multiple re-schedules as well as cancellations due to ferry-related issues.

In addition, the 1A’s were planning on reducing the number of league games we played each from three to two, which would result in trying to find an inordinate amount of non-league games for each season.

As an example: in a 20-game season (basketball, baseball, fast-pitch) we would only have 6/20 league games and trying to find 14 non-league games to fill the schedule.

The resulting schedule would not be consistent in days we play, number of games per week, and more importantly, in meaningful league games.

So what’s our path?

We are at the end of the first two years of the WIAA four-year cycle, which means we can apply for two things: re-classification or joining another league; we are doing both.

Our current grades 9-11 enrollment is below the 2B cutoff and we are in process of appealing to the WIAA to move into the 2B classification.

We will not find out their decision until January 28th.

If approved, we would then apply to join the Northwest 2B League (Concrete, Darrington, La Conner, Friday Harbor, Orcas Island).

We don’t know what the WIAA will consider as significant change in enrollment, as this is the first time the WIAA has ever had to render these decisions.

Neither myself or WIAA representatives can really speak to whether we have a legitimate chance of winning the appeal but we are appealing.

We have had a long history of playing all of these teams and play them in non-league games on a regular basis, so it’s not really a stretch for us to move in this direction.

We have also inquired and have begun the process of looking into joining the newly formed 1A North Sound Conference, which currently consists of Sultan, South Whidbey, Granite Falls (appealing to drop from 2A to 1A), King’s, and Cedar Park Christian.

We have had a long history of playing the majority of these teams and play them in non-league games on a regular basis, so it’s not really a stretch for us to move in this direction.

It’s a 1A only league, which we have not been in for over 10 years.

Nothing, other than exiting the Olympic League at the conclusion of this year, is set, and even that needs approval from District 3, District 1, and the WIAA, which should happen, but is not always 100%.

There are a lot of documentation, hearings, and legwork that is currently being done, and will continue to be done before anything firm happens.

I would like to add that I have nothing but positive things to say about the Olympic League and its Athletic Directors.

They brought us in and re-worked an entire league in order to make it happen for Coupeville at a time when we desperately needed a change.

It helped our programs get healthy again, kids turning out, and we have had a lot of successes in the Olympic League.

But, and very importantly, it comes down to what is best for our schools and our kids.

The amount of time and school our kids miss coupled with the reality of the costs has really made us (coaches, administration) look at where we were at and a change was something that needed to occur.

Prior to bringing in four 1A schools in 2014 — Coupeville, Klahowya, Port Townsend and Chimacum — the Olympic League was a 2A conference.

In the three-plus seasons of the 1A division, Coupeville has won 11 league titles and claimed 153 varsity wins against its three 1A foes.

Girls basketball and tennis, which have yet to lose a league contest, each own three titles. Volleyball (2), boys tennis (2) and baseball (1) also have added to the school’s Wall of Honor.

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   Day one of putting together the 1,000 pieces that comprise the new CHS grandstands, and the question on everyone’s mind is … “What do you mean you lost the instructions?!?!” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

“No, no, it looks fine that way.”

   Later, when everything looks all fancy, people will forget about the lowly, but important piece which anchors everything. I shall call it … Thaddeus.

“I’m just saying, I could have lifted that without any machinery. No, really…”




And we’re .02% done.

It’s like a really big Ikea project.

The two-year wait for the new Coupeville High School football/soccer/track grandstands to arrive is over.

Now we just wait for all 10 million pieces to be put together.

Will the new stands debut during one of the three remaining Wolf home football games?

Or, more likely, will butts hit the seats for the first time this spring?

Only time will tell.

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