Posts Tagged ‘Willie Smith’

Teo Keilwitz (left) and Clay Reilly take down a Falcon. (John Fisken photos)

Hunter Smith dives for the end zone. Spoiler: he made it.

   Ignoring the man mountain headed his way, Wolf QB Joel Walstad prepares to fire a TD pass.

You can’t get away from Jacob Martin.

Every game matters, but one matters just a bit more.

Coupeville and South Whidbey were made to be arch-rivals, reasonably close in student body size and proximity, and their turf war has been a memorable one over the years, regardless of sport.

But when the Wolves and Falcons meet on the gridiron, there’s a little something extra at stake, as that clash is the only one which has a trophy.

“The Bucket” (literally a large bucket with each school’s logo on one side) is a fairly recent invention, a way to settle a feud which blossomed at a volleyball match about a decade back.

Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith hatched the idea and now, each fall, the victor claims the trophy and owns it for the next year.

Coupeville will carry The Bucket with it when it heads to Langley this year, kicking off a new school sports year Friday, Sept. 1, still basking in last year’s 41-10 rout of the Falcons.

With CHS coach Jon Atkins entering his second year at the helm, he’ll try and do something which evaded his recent predecessors — Jay Silver, Tony Maggio and Brett Smedley — and guide the Wolves to back-to-back wins in the grudge match.

After busting a five-year run of South Whidbey wins with an 18-13 victory in 2012, Coupeville fell 57-33 in 2013, won 35-28 in 2014, lost 27-14 in 2015 then romped to a win last year.

Silver (0-2) and Smedley (0-1) never beat the Falcons, while Maggio’s success (2-1) included him out-coaching former college coach Chris Tormey in 2014.

This time around, South Whidbey has turned to former long-time coach Mark Hodson, who was recruited to save a program in free-fall.

The Falcons, who lost their final seven games last season en route to a 1-8 mark, are taking a break from the 1A/2A Cascade Conference (at least for a season) and will play an independent football schedule this fall.

After opening with fellow 1A schools Coupeville and Chimacum, South Whidbey will face Valley View Secondary, a Canadian team.

Then it’s on to six straight games against 2B schools — Ocosta, Friday Harbor,  La Conner, Darrington, Concrete and Liberty Bell.

Not having to face Cascade Conference foes like ATM, Cedarcrest or King’s will give Hodson and Co. a chance to rebuild a roster which was severely depleted from previous seasons.

Regardless of record (Coupeville was 3-7 last season), the season-opening match-up of Wolves and Falcons is huge.

The winner gets bragging rights to go with possession of The Bucket, an undefeated record (for at least a week), an emotional boost and memories.

As we sit here, a mere 23 days away from this year’s clash, a handful of Coupeville players looked back at their own battles and what they remember:

JR Pendergrass:

My sophomore year, we were beating South Whidbey and we had the ball, running the clock down.

The player across from me on the line kept hitting me every time we took a knee to run the clock, because we were winning, and it took all the power in my being not to plant him in the ground.

Raymond Beiriger:

Junior year, it was my first year playing. And even though I was JV, we all went to watch the varsity play, and watching them fight for something that meant everything to them.

It really inspired me to play my senior year and try harder.

Watching them win The Bucket was amazing and I was super happy.

Uriel Liquidano:

Best memory was last year when South Whidbey was talking all this smack about how they where going to beat us and take The Bucket, that was pretty funny.

Good times, gonna miss playing on a Friday night. #OurBucket.

Jacob Martin:

Breaking a 70-yard TD and scoring the first TD of the game!

Korbin Korzan:

Sophomore year, varsity OLB, we won The Bucket. One of my best high school memories of all time.

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Nuff said.

Well, I guess we could just call it a vacation.

I know, I know, I haven’t even been gone long enough to grow a luxurious “retirement” beard like David Letterman.

But, while my 10-day sabbatical only allowed me enough time to seed the facial growth, it did give me ample opportunity to reflect on life itself.

I watched some movies — quality stuff like “Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman” and “Bear Force One” — talked to my landlord’s feral cats, avoided looking for a “real” job and scrolled back through most of the history of Coupeville Sports.

As I did so, a couple of things became clearer.

No one delivers a solid-gold quote like Willie Smith and I used to really enjoy giving South Whidbey verbal wedgies.

Oh, the olden days…

Also, and this probably matters more — there are parts of my life which fuel the depression I fight on an on-again, off-again basis.

Things I need to work on, deal with or walk away from.

Writing is not one of those things.

In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Writing is the one thing in my life which makes me soar. That gives me an outlet.

As I went back through Coupeville Sports — 5,141 articles stretching over the past four years and eight months — I was reminded of what a unique opportunity I have been given with this blog.

I have a chance to tell the world a multitude of stories.

To give folks from rural Pennsylvania to big city Brazil and everywhere in between a window into the wonder that takes place every day on a prairie in the middle of a rock stuck out here in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Along the way I can write about whatever I want, whenever I want, in whatever style I want.

How can I throw that away?

I can’t.

To everyone who talked to me over the past 10 days, in public or private, your support has meant, and will continue to mean, a lot.

To those who have purchased ads or made donations in the past (or those who might now do so), you are the lifeblood of Coupeville Sports.

But so are the moms who leave brownies in my mailbox or the people who share my stories on Facebook or the teen titan who autographs my scorecard after blasting a game-winning double off a two-time league MVP.

Lookin’ at you, Jae LeVine. That’s gonna be worth money some day soon.

We all need a purpose in life. Something to tell the feral cats about as they try and ignore you and concentrate on the tuna you’re bribing them with.

The last 10 days have given me a chance to reflect, to reconsider, to relight the fire.

I’m a writer.

Today, tomorrow, always.

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Coupeville HS/MS Athletic Director Willie Smith. (John Fisken photo)

The man in the head office has a few words for you.

Willie Smith has spent two decades-plus at Coupeville High School, working as a teacher, coach and Athletic Director.

This is his second time around as AD, having re-assumed the post at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. He previously held the position for five years, stepping away in 2009.

Today’s column marks the launch of “ADD: Athletic Director Directives,” which will give Smith a chance to impart the “thoughts and musings of a small-town AD with big-time dreams.”

Is this mic on?

Whenever a new leader, supervisor, head man, big cheese, whatever you want to call it, takes over, there is a period of transition and philosophical change that occurs and that is what we are in currently.

My goal, in writing this, as well as follow-up articles, is to give all of you insight into what the goals are for our athletic program and to let you in on how those goals came to be; however, fair warning that entering into my world, especially my head, may not always be advisable.

First, my role as I see it, is to be an advocate in all aspects of our athletic program: student athletes, coaches, parents, and administration.

I have coached for over 20 years, been part of building two different programs from the elementary level up, am unafraid to ask questions and speak up, am extremely competitive, and am fiercely loyal to our schools, kids, and coaches.

I am not political, nor always politically correct, whatever that means, but I am never demeaning, nor crass in my opinions or decisions.

I am what you see and what you hear (well, depending on the person telling you what I am) but I am not going to tell you one thing and do another.

In forming who I was as a coach and a player, I had some very good coaches, and some very poor coaches; I played at the state level, and went win-less for an entire season.

As a coach, I stressed the fundamentals, had high expectations of myself, players, and coaches; I even yelled every now and then, but always tried to be the first to congratulate when kids did it right.

I have no idea what my overall win/loss record is but am super proud that my teams improved from the beginning of the year to the end, had high character, didn’t make excuses, outworked most other teams, and got to experience a lot of successes, both at league level and state level.

I believe that middle and high school athletics can be the most rewarding experience in a student’s life.

There is no book, quiz, or state test in the education system that can teach you so many different lessons and put you in so many life experiences.

In any given game or contest you can rise to euphoria and in the next instant, be brought to your knees.

You have to work as a team, experience a wide array of personalities, deal with adversity and conflict, confront your emotions, and ultimately, be able to talk with and come to tenable solutions with those that are in charge of you.

Those that say, “Winning isn’t everything” are correct (though it is a lot of fun); there are many other successes that kids, coaches, and communities can embrace: high character, work ethic, teamwork, commitment, service, accountability.

I truly believe that if our students, coaches, parents, and community embrace these things winning takes care of itself, and even if it doesn’t, these are values that we should all aspire to.

This is the vision of the Athletic Department, it is at the bottom of each of the Athletic Director emails:


These are the values, the basis of all decisions, and the vision moving forward.

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Some of the people and events which shaped Coupeville Sports in 2016. (John Fisken photos)

   Some of the people and events which shaped Coupeville Sports in 2016. (John Fisken and Shelli Trumbull photos)

High points. Low points. Moments in between.

2016, like every year, was a mixed bag, and that carried over to sports accomplishments.

Having put some research time in (not a lot, but some), here’s my personal picks for the 16 most memorable moments from ’16.

16) Paul Schmakeit, a former CHS athlete and member of the Central Whidbey Little League junior baseball team that won a state title in 2010, pleads guilty for his role in a home burglary that left a man paralyzed.

He’s currently serving a sentence of a year and eight months. After starting at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, he was recently transferred to the Monroe Correctional Complex.

15) Willie Smith returns to reclaim the Athletic Director role at CHS.

The longtime coach, quote king and bon vivant immediately slaps the unwieldy school sports schedule into shape and brings the district volleyball tourney to Cow Town. Millions rejoice in the streets (well, I do, at least).

14) Five-foot-four sharpshooter Mason Grove drops seven three-balls in one game, propelling the Wolf JV boys basketball squad to a wild win over arch-rival South Whidbey and its two 6’5 freshmen.

13) They had to stretch the sign-up time just to field a roster, but once Central Whidbey Little League had a juniors softball squad in place, things went peachy keen.

Under the direction of diamond gurus Charlotte Young and Connie Lippo, the Venom, led by Chelsea Prescott, Scout Smith and Mollie Bailey, finish 13-3, outscoring foes 185-85.

12) Hunter Smith hits the stone-cold, ice-water-in-your-veins shot of the year, nailing a trey from the corner at the buzzer in Klahowya, lifting the Wolves to a 54-53 win in the regular season finale of the 2015-2016 campaign.

11) Mia Littlejohn rips up the record book, throwing down 27 goals on the soccer pitch this fall and earning co-MVP honors in the 1A Olympic League.

The Wolf booters put together the first winning season in program history, while their captain smashed program (Kalia Littlejohn-10) and school (Abraham Leyva-20) scoring marks.

10) Makana Stone caps her stellar prep hoops career by signing a letter of intent to play college ball at Whitman.

After compiling 1,000+ points, 800+ rebounds and 200+ steals as a Wolf, she’s now the first player off the bench for a Blues team which is off to a 10-0 start and ranked in the top 25 in the nation.

9) Before she leaves CHS, Stone leads her team to state, the first time a CHS hoops squad has made it to the big dance in a decade.

The Wolves shred Seattle Christian at districts to stun the Sumner crowd, then fall to Cashmere at regionals, finishing 16-6.

8) After two years of going on its own, the 1A Olympic League hooks up with the Nisqually League to create an eight-team football-only conference.

Cascade Christian claims the inaugural title, while Coupeville wins two league games (Vashon, Chimacum) and comes within a play of winning two others (Bellevue Christian, Charles Wright).

7) The Wolves continue to surge to the front of their league, winning girls basketball, baseball, girls tennis, volleyball and boys tennis titles in 2016.

The volleyball title is the first for Coupeville since 2004, while the baseball team notches its first league title since 1990.

6) The coaching shuffle continues, with the biggest moves involving new head coaches for volleyball (Cory Whitmore) and football (Jon Atkins) and an involuntary exit for cheer coach Cheridan Eck.

Atkins wins three games in his first go-round, an improvement on the previous regime, which won a single game in 2015, while Whitmore launches what looks like the start of a volleyball dynasty.

Eck vanishes from the sidelines midway through the season, school officials refuse to comment and, as of a few days ago, the school is accepting applications for the position.

5) Racing the end of the summer and the start of football, CHS puts the finishing touches on its brand new track. Funded by a successful levy, it will allow the Wolves to host home track meets for the first time since their old track began to crumble back into the Earth.

4) Playing under Atkins for the first time, the Wolf football squad thrashes visiting South Whidbey 41-10 on opening night to bring The Bucket home.

The trophy is a bit dented, as the Falcons take out their frustration on Coupeville’s logo, but dent or no dent, The Bucket is back where it belongs.

3) Records fell left and right, from Littlejohn on the pitch to the track big board being rewritten by Jacob Smith, Jordan Ford, Dalton Martin, Stone, Sylvia Hurlburt, Lauren Grove and Lindsey Roberts.

Not to be outdone, Hunter Smith smashes football single-season marks for receiving yards and touchdowns and Hope Lodell records more service aces in one SEASON (110) than any Wolf spiker amassed in their entire CAREER.

2) CHS track has a long and storied history, but the Wolves performance at the state track meet last spring stands as one of the best the school has ever put together.

It would take forever to go through all the accomplishments, but two things really stand out.

Stone and Roberts became the first Wolf girls to ever win three medals at one state meet, while Martin was the first CHS athlete, male or female, to win three medals in the throwing events.

1) This one is personal.

After much work, research, fundraising and arm-twisting, we reclaim 116 years worth of CHS sports history, creating a Wall of Fame in the school’s gym.

Honoring all league and district titles, top 10 state performances by Wolf teams and individual state titles from 1900-2016, it’s a start.

Now, about that football record board…

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David Rochin

David Rochin

Amanda Allmer

Amanda Allmer (far left). (Photo courtesy Jon Crimmins)

There are good players, great players and then ones who really dominate.

The two superstars who form the 78th class inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame both firmly fall into that latter category.

Amanda Allmer only had one year at CHS, while David Rochin had two, but both left a sizable impact, and are fondly remembered by their coach, Willie Smith, who is taking the dais today to welcome them into the Hall.

After this you’ll find the duo up at the top of the blog under the Legends tab.

First though, let’s take a few moments to bask in the afterglow of their vaunted prep careers.

Allmer joined CHS classmate Marnie Bartelson in traveling up to Oak Harbor to play for the Wildcats at a time before Coupeville had its own soccer program.

Anchoring the team in goal, she helped lead OHHS to a league title and a 4th place finish at the 1994 state tourney, then came back to CHS for basketball season, which is where Smith became the happiest coach in all the land at the news of her arrival.

Amanda Allmer, the only true center I ever had play for me and it was in my first year.

Great transfer from Juanita, parents bought, or had owned, the restaurant at the ferry and moved here her senior year.

As a first year coach, having a senior, who was not only extremely talented, but one of the finest leaders I ever had, was a godsend.

She was an extremely hard worker who never quit no matter what the score was.

She was an inside presence that allowed Zenovia Barron, Jen Canfield and Mika Hosek to operate on the perimeter; without Amanda in the middle the development of those three kids takes a lot longer.

She was a great role model for all of our future stars that played with her: in addition to those three we had Ann Pettit, Jen Eelkema and Vanessa Bodley, who all watched her toughness and ended up playing as hard as she did.

She was pretty unstoppable in the middle, and that was when we played in the Cascade Conference in some of the hey-days of the programs.

Sultan, Lakewood, and King’s were perennial league champs and had very strong programs and Amanda was an easy First-Team pick during that time.

As tough as she was on the court, she was as nice and respectful off of it; a great student, superb leader, and even better person.

I feel pretty fortunate to have got to coach her.

Jump forward into the early 2000s and Smith, firmly entrenched as Coupeville’s baseball coach, lucked into his second unexpected superstar.

David (daveed) Rochin (rochine): lived with one of our families here and was not a foreign exchange student as he attended both his junior and senior years.

I would say the best pure baseball player I got to coach here.

He played shortstop and pitcher for us and was unbelievable.

He had a rifle of an arm, great range, and was a great hitter (power and average) ending up hitting .455 his junior year then “dropping off” to .377 his senior year and leading the way in RBI’s and extra base hits both years.

What made him so special was he made everything look so effortless; to say he was smooth would be an understatement. It was just so fun to watch him play.

And he loved to play.

Intense but always with a smile and a quip, he combined with Justin Barnes, Ty Blouin and affable Jacob Henderson as perhaps the greatest quartet of one-liners and greatest goofs I’ve ever coached.

The four of them umpired our Little League baseball games, showing the backbone of our program’s future stars — James Smith, Casey Larson, Kyle Wilcox, Alex Evans, Zach Hauser, Jared Murdy, etc. — how fun the game could be (as well as how hard you needed to work).

The greatest moment for me, and I think for those four seniors was the first game of the year their senior year.

We had had a student transfer to South Whidbey for baseball and it just so happened that we played them first that year.

The game was close and we were up by a run or two in the top of the seventh with two outs and a runner at second; Barnes is on the mound with David at short, Ty at third, and Hendo at first.

As fate would have it, their former teammate steps up the plate; he squibbles a grounder to short and David comes in to make the play.

As he fields the ball, his feet go out from under him; the kid’s hustling down the line so instead of panicking, David simply raises to his knees and throws the kid out by two steps and we go berserk.

Of course David has a big ole grin on his face as he gets mobbed.

One of the nicest kids, perhaps best baseball player I have had, and one of the most memorable moments of my baseball coaching career.

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