Nearly one-third of SWHS student body plays fall sports

South Whidbey Falcon volleyball C-team coach Amanda Spalding, center, runs through a drill on the first day of practice for fall sports in Washington. Huddled behind them is the varsity group.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
South Whidbey Falcon volleyball C-team coach Amanda Spalding, center, runs through a drill on the first day of practice for fall sports in Washington. Huddled behind them is the varsity group.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

More than one-third of South Whidbey High School’s students are registered to play fall sports this year.

On the first day of volleyball, boys tennis, cross country and girls soccer, fields and courts were loaded with activity throughout Monday. A total of 168 students are signed up, a handful more than in 2013.

Football, which started last Wednesday, has the distinction of being the only Falcon fall sport with a new head coach — its first in more than a decade. Chris Tormey was hired at the 2013-14 school year’s end after co-head coaches Andy Davis and Mark Hodson resigned to spend more time with their families. Tormey leads a program with 57 players.

All of the other programs return with familiar faces in charge.

Volleyball will aim to reload after one of its best finishes under head coach Mandy Jones. Last season the Falcons qualified for the 1A state tournament but were eliminated after the first day.

Rather than starting with basics or conditioning, Jones had the girls slated for varsity practice hitting over and around blockers, scrambling for missed sets and passing to the backline — all issues for South Whidbey at the state tournament. Erickson Gymnasium rang with the sight and sound of 34 girls calling out hits and hollering encouragement.

Karyle Kramer continues her treatment for boys tennis, inviting competition and diversifying skills between singles and doubles play. In her third year now, Kramer has 30 boys registered for her program, well more than the maximum for a class 1A varsity squad of eight. That means most of the players will be on junior varsity because Kramer and the boys tennis team do not make player cuts.

Despite being a well-versed tennis coach who helps organize the USTA junior program for the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District, she had help from her predecessor Tom Kramer, who is also her father, as well as assistant coach Nancy Ricketts.

Ben Rusch and the 21 Falcon girls soccer players will be assisted by Marie Shimada after two years with Jane Gerlach.

Doug Fulton and Shauna Davies continue to work with the boys and girls cross country teams, which were at a training session at Camp Casey until Wednesday. To date, 26 athletes are registered for cross country.

Competition was the name of the game across Falcon fall sports. On the tennis courts, Kramer had the players run through “king of the court” drills to work on serves, returns, rallies and conditioning as she reminded them to run after they won to the other side of the court. The design was to keep each player as active on possible despite having, at most, four players on each of seven courts.

Jones and her assistants tracked the volleyball players through each drill. Points were awarded for passes, sets, kills and digs. Those points will be used to sort players between varsity and junior varsity.

The first fall sport to see competition will be football with a non-league rivalry game against Coupeville on Sept. 5 at Coupeville High School. Most of the other sports begin competition the following week.

South Whidbey students may still sign up for fall sports and can find the forms at the high school’s athletic office or online at


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