“I cannot even begin to fathom my life without sports.”
And for those who follow Whidbey Island athletics, it’s hard to fathom Coupeville High School sports without Scout Smith.
Smith, a senior, is about to wrap up a decorated athletic and academic career.
Smith earned three varsity letters in volleyball and was a starter as a junior and senior. She was twice an all-league, second-team selection and team captain. She was also the team’s most inspirational player as a senior.
In basketball, Smith was a three-year letter winner and moved into the starting lineup at the end of her sophomore year. That season she was named the Wolves’ most improved player and received the Wolf Paw Award. As a junior, she served as team captain and picked up second-team, all-league honors. This past season, she again served as team captain, was named Coupeville’s most valuable player and received first-team, all-league honors.
Assuming she will get to play softball this spring, she will collect her fourth varsity letter, start for the third year and serve her third term as team captain. As a freshman, she was named the team’s rookie of the year. She was an all-league, first-team choice as a sophomore and junior, the team’s defensive MVP as a junior and winner of the Coaches’ Award as a sophomore.
Softball is favorite sport
“The sport I enjoy the most is softball,” she said. “Although I love volleyball and basketball very much, there is something about softball that sets it apart from the others. It is a beautiful combination of a team effort and individuality. You all must work together, but there are also moments when you are all alone and you have to perform for your team. Not to mention the strategy and how each play is nothing like any other.”
Most importantly, she added, “It’s the sport that is our family.”
Both her brothers, C.J. and Hunter, starred in baseball at Coupeville and currently play for Green River Community College. Her parents, Chris and Charlotte, played slow-pitch and Chris is Coupeville’s head baseball coach.
“It is a sport that we all know and love, and it bonds us all as a family,” she said.
While softball is her first love, she played three sports in high school because they helped her keep active and each supplemented the others. To her, it was more important to be a well-rounded athlete than dominant in one sport.
“Many people choose to specialize in one sport, which is great, but for me, constantly playing different sports allowed me to achieve my best,” she said. “Being in a small school has offered me numerous opportunities, and among them was the chance to be a three-sport athlete, and I was not going to give that up.”
Plenty of help
Smith credits her family, coaches and teammates for her success.
Her brothers played football and basketball in high school as well as being all-conference baseball players. Hunter is among the leading basketball scorers in school history, holds several receiving and defensive records in football and is a two-time Coupeville High School Athlete of the Year.
“Them being successful drove me to want to be successful,” she said. “They too would coach me. I remember being a little kid and going down into the basement with my brothers to work on fundamentals like tee drills and wall ball.”
They also taught her “there is no crying in baseball.”
Her parents coached her in youth leagues, and, along with her brothers, emphasized the mental side of athletics as well as the fundamentals.
They also shaped her as a person.
“Growing up I was never the biggest, fastest or the strongest on my teams, but I was willing to work the hardest,” Smith said. “Not to mention the fact that quitting was absolutely never an option. While I was growing up, my parents never allowed me to start something and not finish it.”
As she grew, so did her understanding of commitment.
“(When) I moved into high school sports, commitment no longer meant just showing up to every practice and doing the bare minimum,” she said. “It meant doing everything humanly possible to be the best I could be for my team.”
Smith added that she had the “privilege” of playing for some “amazing coaches.”
Coaches praise leadership
Coupeville softball coach Kevin McGranahan calls Smith “a silent assassin.”
“She never lets the pressure get to her, and she always wants the ball in her hand or to be at bat in a clutch situation,” he said. “She has been a rock to my program, a natural leader and a great student academically. If we don’t get to play this year, it will mean the young girls will miss out on watching and learning from a true leader and mentor. There are some players that just can’t be replaced, and Scout is one of them.”
Girls basketball coach Scott Fox said Smith optimizes what a “great student athlete should look like.”
He emphasized Smith’s academic standing and said teachers have repeatedly told him they recheck their answers if Smith misses a question. He also noted her work in school activities beyond athletics.
In basketball, Smith is a “true leader,” Fox said. “She pushes herself to become the best at whatever sport she’s involved with and will put in the extra time and effort to achieve this level of excellence. As a senior she attended every optional skills workout I held during summer, and also showed this level of commitment during the season by continuously staying after practice to work on her skills.”
Smith was the “heart and soul” of the basketball team, according to Fox. Oposing coaches voted her as an unanimous choice for first-team all-league.
“I’m extremely proud of what she accomplished this year and she will truly be missed,” Fox said.
Volleyball coach Cory Whitmore said, “It was clear very early on in Scout’s freshman year, that she was going to be a program changer and one from which you can shape a program around. She has always been incredibly mature for her age, making her development as a player attainable at a fast rate, and a character that makes everyone around her better — personally, athletically and academically.
“Scout’s natural leadership qualities geared her toward the role of setter, to which she — like in all her endeavors — progressed fast and tenaciously toward serving the team. I’m so proud of honored to have coached her. I have relied on Scout in more ways than she could possibly know and I’m so looking forward to staying in touch to see where she goes from here.”
Smith said she had the fortune to play with some “incredible teammates — whether they were older than me and dragged me along or were the same age or younger than me and continuously pushed me to be better.”
“There is almost no doubt in my mind that nearly everyone in my life has contributed to my success as an athlete,” she added.
Sports provide lessons
Sports offers life lessons, according to Smith.
“I choose to play sports and encourage others to do so because I know just how much they have added to my life,” she said. “I have learned commitment, leadership, determination, grit and so much more just by being around sports. I truly cannot even put into words how much sports mean to me and how much they have affected my life.”
Sports have also helped Smith develop relationships with athletes from other schools and be part of “an amazing community.”
“Every time I step onto the court or field I know there is an arsenal of past and present Wolves cheering me on.”
One lesson Smith would like to pass to others is to “own your role.”
“Whether you are the MVP and starting point guard or starting left bench, own that role,” she said. “Every role on a team is tremendously important, so do it to the best of your ability. I know what it is like to be on both sides of the spectrum, to sit on the bench and to be the MVP.”
She also stressed not to underestimate yourself or to make excuses for your circumstances, quoting Derek Jeter: “There may be people with more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you.”
Smith has produced many highlights in her career, noting the obvious ones like qualifying for state in volleyball and softball, including winning the school’s first state softball game in 17 years, and hitting a ninth-inning walk-off grand slam.
However, one of the most precious memories came in an eighth-grade basketball game when fouls and injuries left the team short-handed late in the game. Down to three players and a fourth playing on a gimpy ankle, the Wolves, playing 3.5 vs. 5, came back to win the game.
“The determination of all of us and the effort we put in in those final moments was the real highlight,” she said. “We may have only been middle schoolers, but there was no quit in us.”
There is also no quit in Smith when it comes to school. She sports a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
“No matter what anyone says, balancing school and sports alone is not an easy task; throw on a social life and you better learn how to juggle,” Smith said. “However difficult though, I am very thankful for the pressure this combo has put on me. Being a student-athlete absolutely forces you to become an expert at time management and prioritizing.
“That being said, it also means occasionally choosing to take a break from school and sports to relax and be a kid.”