by Toby Cooper
“Keep the pressure,” they hollered from the sidelines. “More pressure,” yelled Terry Turner, meticulous coach of Vikings’ soccer. Passing was crisp as Center Midfield Joaquin Shanks Morales orchestrated another strategic assault on goal for the Viking offense, playing the odds for a closer shot. But the shot went wide, and the offense was forced to regroup.
Fall sports are on! Orcas Island’s teams are getting their first taste of competition in soccer, volleyball, cross country, and sailing. Participation is up, fans are rowdy, and the energy is contagious.
“Sports are valuable to kids’ education,” said newly-appointed Athletic Director Paul Steimel. He sees sports not only as vital to individual growth, but also as enhancing life lessons in discipline, time management, and sportsmanship. Winning is great, he adds, but “the intangibles are as important as what’s on the scoreboard.”
Coach Turner believes in intangibles too, but the 1-0 loss to Mount Vernon Christian left him wanting more. “We did everything right, just couldn’t convert,” he said after the game. “If we pass the ball and move to open space, we will do great.”
Vikings’ Center Back Jefferson Freeman agreed that MVC “didn’t make many mistakes,” but he is confident that his experienced defense can “win the ball and send it back to Joaquin, team captain Sam Sutton, and the rest of the offense for more shots on goal.”
Both Turner’s varsity and JV squads square off against Lopez on Friday (post-press deadline).
If soccer is a contest of non-stop strategic calculations, volleyball is about position, timing, anticipation, and above all, patience – especially with yourself. Co-captains Bethany Carter and Seraphine Knapp stepped out of practice to share their vision for the season. “Volleyball is a game of mistakes,” they said, adding that “listening to your coach” is key to success.
Excited about her first season with the team, Coach Mallory Malcolm conducts daily pressure-cooker drills to hone skills on two squads of young players. “They are already looking great,” she said, citing their at the season-opening Toledo Jamboree and a second-in-pool placing at a tournament in Yakima last week.
Last year, the Viking girls reached the second round in 1-B (small schools) in the WA State Tournament. This year? “We want state,” said Bethany and Seraphine with one voice.
Mike Kulper coaches the co-ed cross-country team of a dozen talented runners. Having lost all four girls to graduation last year, Kulper hopes to find other girls to join young August Moore this year for a repeat appearance at the WA State Championships.
Kulper’s team is driven by a universal passion for running. To a talented distance runner in peak condition, the miles do not hurt – they flow. Teamwork is essential as runners position themselves for scoring advantage. To parents and fans, the competition is compelling, and Kulper is delighted to find them cheering even at mainland competitions.
Sailing comes easily to island kids, but becoming a powerhouse sailing team requires planning, training, and superior execution on the water. The Orcas team, which includes kids from Spring Street, is ably coached by Julia Soes of Sail Orcas, with logistical support from Orcas Island Yacht Club. Besides coaching, Sail Orcas provides the 14-strong co-ed team with a fleet of matched “FJ” racing dinghies identical to those used by schools all over the West Coast.
For 2023, the team is looking to veterans Dagny Kruger, Lola Walker, Else Ranker, and others to lead them into local and regional fall competition. It’s no secret that the team has its sights set on qualifying for Nationals – a goal Orcas last achieved in 2017. It’s also no secret that some of Julia’s coaching staff comes from that 2017 team.
On Sept. 23 and 24, the team is hosting the girls’ qualifying event for the PCISA Girls Regatta, with the top four teams advancing to the national event in San Diego. Julia invites the community to swing by West Sound to cheer on the Orcas sailors.
Orcas Island’s athletes and fans alike owe huge thanks to the Orcas Island Booster Club, the volunteer backbone of island-wide Viking fandom. Chaired by Kate Long, the Boosters perform countless indispensable tasks for the Vikings, including procuring equipment, uniforms, the new whiz-bang scoreboard, and so much more. And for sure, we can expect to see Kate, mom to soccer star Sam Sutton, hollering “More Pressure” from the sidelines at every game.