Sports and Schools

New coaches to lead 2 fall teams

Kirsty Croghan - Jim Waller / Whidbey Examiner
Kirsty Croghan
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey Examiner

The 2013 fall high school sports season begins in a few weeks, and two of Coupeville’s teams will be guided by new coaches.

Troy Cowan will head the soccer team, and Kirsty Croghan returns to lead the volleyball program.


Cowan’s trip to becoming a head coach followed an unusual route.

Most coaches compete in their sport as youngsters and in high school, and some continue in college. Eventually they slide to the sidelines to guide others.

Cowan didn’t play while growing up in Riddle, Ore., though he did kick the ball around a bit in pickup games during his days in the Navy. He fell in love with the sport as his children did.

He said, “I was never one of those parent who just wanted to sit around; I wanted to get involved.” Cowan said all six of his children wanted to play, so when the first signed up, he volunteered to coach.

He has been heavily involved in island soccer since, a span of 15 years.

The youngest Cowan child, Aiden, is continuing the trend. He is 6 and has already played four seasons.

Troy Cowan coached recreational soccer for about 10 years and has been the U15 girls select coach for the Islanders the past four years. The team includes his daughter, Bailee. He is currently Director of Academy for the North Whidbey Soccer Club and has served as vice president for the Whidbey Island Youth Soccer Association.

Cowan retired from the Navy in 2008 and recently earned his masters in education in June and would like to teach high school English. Coaching a high school sport, he said, ties in nicely with his career goals. When the Coupeville coaching job opened up, he applied.

Cowan replaces Dan d’Almeida, who coached Coupeville for only one year before leaving to take a teaching position in Vienna. D’Almeida replaced long-time coach Mike Thornton who accepted a job in Texas.

Through work with the Islanders, Cowan said he is “familiar with some of the Lady Wolves and their parents.”

He said his goal is to take the team “to the next level.”

Coupeville mustered only one win in each of the past two seasons, and never more than four in the past four years.

The goal, he said, is to make Coupeville “a little more competitive,” and he has some “training ideas” he believes will help make that happen.

“I am hoping to implement a new formation and some new strategy that will make a difference in the game,” he said.

He added, “We need to work on improving our touch.”

This summer Cowan ran a voluntary running and conditioning program.

He said, “It is important to be in shape when you start. You can’t win if you can’t breathe.”

High school practice opens Aug. 26.

He said it is his philosophy that if “they give 100 percent, regardless of the score, they are winners”

Cowan said he is trying to send a “positive vibe” about the program and get a large turnout.

A strong nucleus returns from last year’s squad, he said, and that group will be a good foundation to build around.


Croghan, a 2006 Coupeville High School graduate, always knew she would come back.

This fall she returns to lead the Wolves’ volleyball program.

“I love the island,” Croghan said. “Who wouldn’t want to come back and have the opportunity to coach and be a part of the program that meant so much to them? It’s an honor and a privilege to coach at Coupeville High School.”

She added, “The first day of summer practice in the high school gym was awesome. It was like going back to high school volleyball. It is nice to be back.”

Croghan will replace her high school coach, Toni Crebbin, who stepped down last season after 20 years of coaching.

After playing volleyball at Skagit Valley College for two years, Croghan went right into coaching.

She began her coaching career at LaVenture Middle School in Mount Vernon, moved to Anacortes Middle School and then to La Conner High school where she was the junior varsity coach and varsity assistant for three seasons.

She also coached club volleyball in Anacortes and La Conner.

With school and club volleyball, Croghan has coached year round for the past three years: “If you can’t tell yet, volleyball is my life and my passion.”

She said she went into coaching because she is “super passionate about not only coaching volleyball but teaching young ladies that anything is possible if they just believe in themselves.”

She added, “I may be young, but I have had the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest coaches in the business and have learned that coaching is so much more than coaching. I get to do two things I love; it really is the perfect job.”

Croghan said her goal for Coupeville is “to do the best we can.”

“This translates to wanting to make it back to state again,” she said. “It is going to take a lot of hard work and time. We may not make it right away, but I believe in having very high goals and expectations of the girls. When they achieve something they never thought was possible, it is life changing for them.”

She said the season will be a success if her players work hard and enjoy the experience.

She doesn’t anticipate making many changes in the Coupeville program but hopes to provide the girls with more opportunities to play.


Troy Cowan

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