Young Pirates become State Contenders

Mar 1, 2010
by Glenna Mileson
John Gage, Quinn Holert, Elias Weston and Alex Wegner at the State Tournament in 2006
Four years ago, from the bleachers of Yakima’s Sundome, four young boys watched the 2006 Vashon Pirates take third in the 2A State basketball championship. It was the best season finish of any Vashon high school boys’ team.

In the back seat of the car on the way home, an 8th grade John Gage and 7th grade Alex Wegner vowed that they would come back to play on that Sundome floor.

Those young boys, who once watched from the bleachers, are now four of the five starters for the 2010 Vashon Pirates: Quinn Holert, Elias Weston, John Gage and Alex Wegner. Both Holert and Weston watched older brothers on that 2006 team. Wegner ‘s sister was on the roster of the Vashon girls’ team, playing in the same 2006 tournament.

The fifth starter, Matt Kerns, lives in Seattle a few blocks from the ferry terminal and began commuting to the district in middle school. His Nisqually league roots also run deep. His grandfather is a former Port Townsend basketball coach.

This will be the third state appearance for Kerns, Gage , Weston, and Wegner, the second for Holert. For the sixth year in a row, the Vashon boys reign as Nisqually league basketball champions. And, they return to the Sundome as defending 2009 State Champions.

At least part of the success of this team started years ago when parents of those 2006 players took the helm of VIJB (Vashon Island Junior Basketball). With a shared passion for the sport, they developed the VIJB programs to go beyond a local Vashon youth league to give these players opportunities to play in the competitive Seattle Parks and AAU leagues.

Holert joined a VIJB team in Kindergarten, coached by his dad Carl. Wegner started the same year, not yet in Kindergarten but eligible because he had just turned five. His team was also coached by his dad, Derek. Gage came on board in fourth grade, joining Wegner’s team that year. Weston showed up in fourth grade when his family moved back to the island after a 10-year absence.

All five played on Seattle Parks teams out of the Delridge community center in West Seattle, coached by the fathers of Holert and Wegner.

The other seven “home grown” players on the Varsity squad also got their start in VIJB and experience on a Delridge team: Christian Hasson, Matt Amick, Corey Williamson, Tyler Stoffer, Hamzah Griffin, Dan Lofland and Jesse Hazzard. For most, their dads were also their first coaches in that VIJB program.

Fueled by hard work, inspired by the players who paved the way and supported by parents with a passion for the sport, the 2010 Pirates are on to state.