All-Bee Athletes

Coach of the Year: Janine Sodersten, Clovis East

She's qualified because: Led the Timberwolves to a repeat 15-0 record and a third Central Section championship in four seasons. Their 11-8 win over Buchanan for the title improved their record to 57-3 during that run.

The foundation: Clovis East won only two matches in Sodersten's first year, 2008. But then three freshmen arrived in 2009 and framed the dynasty -- Maikor Xiong, Gao Nou Vang and Hannah Sodersten, her daughter. "After that first year I said, 'Oh my God, what did I get into?' " Janine Sodersten says. "But I knew I had three good ones coming up to build off. So this was my group; I started them as babies and groomed them all the way up. That's why it was so important to win (the section) this year as seniors."

Ready to let go, sort of: While remaining as the school's girls tennis coach, Sodersten said she'll likely step down as badminton leader with the idea of staying as an assistant for a year or two while mentoring her preferred successor, JV coach Michelle Smith.

Making a difference: Most rewarding for Sodersten has been her impact on student-athletes of Southeast Asian descent. They've typically comprised more than 90% of her rosters. "They're not noticed, they're not loud on campus," she says. "So it's been neat that these girls with such quiet demeanors be so competitive, so good at something and get recognized. It's been very gratifying."

She said it: "She's been very positive. She just encourages us all to join and even though a lot don't know how to play, she helps them hit and they progress and get better and better. She's very easy to communicate with, so anyone can tell her what's going on (personally) and she understands. Everyone just gets along with her. She's a great coach." -- Timberwolves senior Maikor Xiong on Sodersten's influence on the school's Southeast Asian students.

  Comments