School: Clovis East
She's qualified because: Closed a 15-0 season by defeating Buchanan 10-1 for the Timberwolves' second Central Section team title in three years. They have reached all the finals since they began in 2009.
Power in numbers: Sodersten, who doubles as the school's girls tennis coach, has constructed a badminton empire by successfully tapping into the school's Asian population (nearly 30%). The sport was launched in the north Valley in the past decade in large part to attract those of Asian heritage, given their generally high interest in the sport. Sodersten's 70-girl roster this season was more than 90% Asian.
"The cause and effect of the sport is doing exactly what it was supposed to," she says. "It's inexpensive and it's just a fun game, it really is. The girls are having fun, even when they lose."
So large is her program – more than triple the size of most – the challenge is keeping them all involved in practice: "It's tough because some of them lose floor time," she says. "We traveled with split A and B teams to help accommodate the girls."
Joy in coaching: There's fun in it also for Sodersten, the former Janine Ogas as a cross country and track and field runner at Clovis High and Fresno State: "Tennis is a slow sport, really, but badminton is quick with a lot more pick-me-up and strategy. For me it is the pure enjoyment of teaching skills. The girls get better and better, and I see improvement a lot quicker than other sports. It's very, very gratifying."
Racket master: Sodersten has sold not only her girls but also school athletic director Pete Price: "She understands the game because she also coaches tennis. She understands racket sports and does a great job of getting kids out. She's organized, has high expectations and kids really attract to her. She's very competitive and really gets girls to believe in themselves and play as a unit. It's really amazing."