Crebbin finishes 25-year coaching career

Toni Crebbin - John Fisken / Whidbey News-Times
Toni Crebbin
— image credit: John Fisken / Whidbey News-Times

Coupeville High School volleyball coach Toni Crebbin resigned at the conclusion of this season after a 25-year coaching career.

She said it is time for a break. Over that span she took time off from work but not from coaching.

Now, she said, it's time to be a mom and "enjoy volleyball from the stands."

Her coaching journey began in 1987-88 at Oregon State University. After completing her eligibility as a softball player for the Beavers, she served as an assistant coach her fifth year in college while finishing up her degree.

She married Mike Crebbin, the current Oak Harbor High School wrestling coach, in 1988 and moved to Ridgecrest, Calif., where she coached softball for four years and volleyball for one.

The Crebbins moved to Whidbey Island in August of 1992, and Toni started her Coupeville volleyball stint in the fall of 1993 as the assistant coach. She took over the program in 2003.

Even pregnancy couldn't keep her off the sidelines. She didn't work for a year, but coached, while having son Kellen.

She added, "I even coached when I was full-term with Joshua (her second son). I had him Sept. 8, took two weeks off, then hauled him to every practice and game!"

She also served as the assistant Coupeville softball coach for one year and as the head coach for 2004. She committed to coaching softball for only one year because her husband was coaching in Oak Harbor and her family was in the process of adopting daughter Kaia.

Over the years her Coupeville volleyball teams won 85 matches and qualified for tri-district in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008.

The Wolves most successful year came in 2004 when it won the tri-district title over No. 1-ranked Bush High School. That win lifted the Wolves into the top spot in the polls.

Coupeville's only loss during the regular season was to La Conner; the Wolves later beat the Braves in a playoff match when the two teams finished the season tied.

During the state tournament, Coupeville lost again to La Conner, which went on to win the championship.

Two other years stand out, Crebbin said. Her club finished last in the league standings in 2007 but "surprised everyone" at district to qualify for tri-district. In 2009 the Wolves finished third in the Cascade Conference behind powers King's and Archbishop Murphy and she was recognized

by her peers as Coach of the Year. More memorable than the award, she said, was watching "the girls mesh as a team."

Crebbin was reluctant to mention any individuals as the most memorable because "there's going to be some I forget."

She added, "I love the relationships I have built with so many of the girls over the years. Trusted relationships where many have been my babysitters."

Crebbin said she enjoyed coaching exchange student Linde Maertin and "loves to see former players become coaches." Kirsty Crogan coaches at La Conner and Jennifer Bailey and Yashmeen Knox both returned to assist Crebbin in Coupeville.

"Spending time with Bessie Walstad this summer in China was definitely a bonding experience."

Crebbin said, "I have always tried to model and instill integrity, sportsmanship and hard work. Also, I emphasize that success is not measured in wins and losses, but in how you leave the gym every practice, every game. With that said, I tried to have fun with the girls while instilling those things."

"I think what the players remember years later," she said, "is not so much the records, but the memories we created as being a team."

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