Sequim girls basketball head coach Linsay Rapelje, at right, has stepped down from the position after leading the team to a state tournament berth and a 43-17 record over the last three seasons. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim girls basketball head coach Linsay Rapelje, at right, has stepped down from the position after leading the team to a state tournament berth and a 43-17 record over the last three seasons. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

PREPS: Successful Sequim girls basketball, soccer coaches step aside

Rapelje and Vander Velde guided teams to state berths

SEQUIM — Two Sequim High School head coaches who led their teams to state tourney berths in recent years are stepping away from the hardcourt and pitch.

Linsay Rapelje, who in her second stint as head coach of the Wolves’ girls basketball team led Sequim to a state tourney appearance in 2018-2019, said she is stepping down from the role.

“The main change is my own children are getting older — they’ll both be in middle school — and I have limited time with them,” Rapelje said last week. “I want to be part of their activities and things.”

Derek Vander Velde, who led the SHS Wolves’ girls soccer team to its first state tournament appearance in 2018, resigned his position June 21.

Sequim has hired Ken Garling, who leads the SHS boys varsity soccer program, to take over the girls’ program in the fall, while the district does not yet have a replacement announced for Rapelje’s position.

Wolves hoops

A Spokane native who played collegiate basketball at Western Washington University from 1996-2000, Rapelje coached at Edmonds-Woodway and Meadowdale high schools after her time at Western Washington before moving to Sequim in 2002 to teach English.

Rapelje coached girls soccer and girls basketball at Sequim High; her basketball teams qualified for the postseason in both of her seasons as varsity head coach, going 15-9 in 2004-2005 and 10-11 in 2005-2006 before she stepped away from coaching.

Two games into the 2018-2019 season, then head coach Larry Brown resigned, and Rapelje took over.

“When I got back into coaching, it was unexpected … [but] I’m glad I did. It’s something I took year by year,” she said.

The squad went on to go 8-4 in league play, won three of four games at districts, upended Foster in spectacular fashion — a 26-0 second half run to close out a 54-44 victory — at regionals to qualify for the Class 2A state tourney.

In 2019-2020, the Wolves went 10-2 in league play — their only losses coming to Port Angeles — and finished 17-7 overall, winning two of four at districts and falling short of state by a single game.

In last season’s abridged 2020-2021 campaign, Sequim again won all but two games — again, falling only to league powerhouse Port Angeles — as they placed second in the Olympic League regional standings, finishing 11-2.

Rapelje said she had a strong group of sophomores in her first year back whom she wanted to see through to graduation.

“I thought this was probably the best time [to step down],” she said.

“I’m not going to miss the bus rides and missing time with family,” Rapelje said. “I’m definitely going to miss the girls. The strongest connection with students is [through] coaching. You connect. You learn about their lives; it’s just so valuable.

“I’m going to miss those connections with the players … but we’ll stay in touch, and I’ll support them, see them grow.”

All told, Rapelje’s basketball teams have a cumulative record of 68-37, including 43-17 in her most recent three-season stretch.

As for her replacement?

“My hope is that there would always be some strong female coach would come in,” Rapelje said. “Ideally, that’s who I would want but, [the new coach would] just hopefully be someone that knows basketball and is good with the girls.”

Her assistant coaches from last season — Joclin Julmist and Sven Wiker — are invested in the program, Rapelje said.

Rapelje said she doesn’t plan to return to coaching for a third time. As her children grow into their middle school and high school sports ages, she said, Rapelje doesn’t want to be so tied up with coaching that she misses those experiences.

“I’m never going to rule it out, because life happens, as we’ve learned,” she said.

“I think I’ll be done, but you never know.”


Vander Velde joined a soccer program in 2016 that hadn’t posted more than six wins in the past 10 years and hadn’t seen the postseason since 2012.

The Wolves in that first year went 7-5 in league play and won one of three games at districts, missing a state berth after falling to rival Port Angeles in a penalty kick shootout. For his effort in guiding Sequim to an 11-8 overall record, Vander Velde was named the league’s Coach of the Year.

The next year Sequim missed the playoffs but still posted an 9-7 overall record, and in 2018 the Wolves started slow but reeled of six wins in seven games to eke into districts, where they swept three foes for the West Central District crown and their first state tournament berth. Sequim lost a heart-breaker to Ellensburg, falling 4-3 on penalty kicks.

The Wolves repeated their state run in 2019, using another late-season run to qualify for districts, losing only to Port Angeles in the district final before falling to Ridgefield in the state’s opening round.

Sequim went 4-5 in the COVID-abridged 2021 season.

In his six seasons with the Wolves, Vander Velde led Sequim to a 45-36-2 mark.

More in Sports

Carston Seibel (No. 7) had a hit and an RBI in the first game of a doubleheader against Whatcom Post No. 7 on Saturday at Volunteer Field. (Pierre LaBossiere/Peninsula Daily News)
AMERICAN LEGION: Wilder Jr. sweeps Whatcom AA

The Wilder Junior Baseball Club won one game easily… Continue reading

Port Angeles lefties
WEST COAST LEAGUE: Lefties lose pair of close ones against defending champion Corvallis

The Port Angeles Lefties gave the Corvallis Knights everything they… Continue reading

East Jefferson's Athletic Director Shelby Box in Shelby, Mont.
EAST JEFFERSON: Rivals athletic director Shelby Box wins InSideOut award

East Jefferson Athletic Director Shelby Box will be presented… Continue reading

LEFTIES: Port Angeles a call away from a Walla Walla sweep

Umpire disagrees with timing of home plate tag

SPORTS ON TELEVISION: Weekend sports broadcasts

SPORTS ON TELEVISION Friday 11 a.m. ESPN NCAA Baseball, World Series Virginia… Continue reading

Arlington angler John Nunnally caught this king in July 2020 while fishing near Skagway off Neah Bay with his cousin Chad Huffman. The fish weighed in at 31.7 pounds at Mason's Resort in Sekiu.
OUTDOORS: King quota up off Neah Bay, coho totals down

OCEAN-GOING ANGLERS will open the summer salmon season next Friday when the… Continue reading

LEFTIES: Port Angeles walks over Walla Walla for series win

Leon draws three free passes, including go-ahead RBI

The Olympic Junior Babe Ruth champion Westport team defeated First Federal 3-1 in the title game Tuesday night at Volunteer Field. Westport pitcher Carston Seibel, right, pitched a gem, going 6⅔ innings, allowing three hits and one run while striking out nine. Westport’s Lane Wilson was 2-for-3 and stole three bases and Abe Brenkman was 2-for-2.
OLYMPIC JUNIOR BABE RUTH: Westport wins Babe Ruth title behind Seibel

The Olympic Junior Babe Ruth champion Westport team defeated First Federal 3-1… Continue reading

Port Angeles Lefties
WEST COAST LEAGUE: Big inning lifts Lefties to victory over Walla Walla

The Port Angeles Lefties won their fourth straight, getting… Continue reading

Students received new belts and moved up in belts at a White Crane Taekwondo tournament held in Port Angeles this past weekend. Front row, from left, Ray Mickey, who moved up to second level black belt; new black belts Shaun Parker, Joy Rosenblum and Angela Holcott from Poulsbo, Maverick Parker, Jasper Fleming, Atticus Fleming, Inka Burke, Margret Trowbridge, Triton Stone, Lucas Beauvais and Kirsten Neilsen, all of Port Angeles. The testing board was Ron Mondragon of Seattle, Andrea Pirzio-Biroli of Mercer Island, John Kahler of Seattle, Don Wootten of Seattle, Grandmaster Robert Nicholls of Port Angeles and Todd Norcross of Poulsbo.
TAEKWONDO: White Crane awards black belts

Students received new belts and moved up in belts at a White… Continue reading