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Sutton scores success on, off soccer field

Carlos Islas

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Women's head soccer coach, Kim Sutton, has a coaching record at Chico State of 141-97-45 and a career record of 268-163-60 with all of her teams averaging 10 wins per season. Photo credit: Allisun Coote

In her 15th year as women’s soccer head coach, Kim Sutton has accomplished many things both on and off the field, ranging from playing with Team USA to conference titles and Final Four appearances.

Sutton’s athletic career includes playing for Team USA during the 1987 tour of Europe and Soviet Union. Although Sutton had a successful playing career, she tore her ACL during her junior of college. That year, she was played both basketball and soccer. However, that injury opened a new door and helped Sutton realize she wanted to coach.

“I kind of fell into coaching by default, it wasn’t what I went to college for,” Sutton said. “I couldn’t play that season and got into coaching a high school JV basketball team with an old teammate of mine, so it got me into coaching in a strange way.”

After a couple of years of coaching, Sutton chose to devote her time to coaching high school basketball and teaching. Sutton coached basketball for 10 years and during that time also coached soccer at junior college. Although she enjoyed her time coaching and teaching, Sutton realized that she did not want to do both.

“It was definitely not the career path I thought I would be in,” Sutton said. “I liked working with young adults and developing them. Being in sports that I love, I felt was a much better fit.”

However, Sutton continued to teach until she got her first head coaching job at Santa Rosa Junior College in 1990. During the four years she was there, Sutton led Santa Rosa to three conference titles and two state championship matches leaving with a 72-14-1 record.

“I felt I was at a point where I needed to challenge myself as a coach. I really wanted to get where I had athletes perform for five years,” Sutton said.

After her successful spell at Santa Rosa, Sutton moved on to become the head coach at Humboldt State. She was with the program during its first six years as an intercollegiate sport and while also teaching classes. Sutton’s time there was nothing short of a success as she led the Lumberjacks to two Pacific West Conference titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances and three consecutive 10-win seasons. When she was finished at Humboldt, Sutton’s record was 55-42-12 which earned her Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year.

Sutton arrived at Chico State in 2001 and within no time transformed the Wildcats. Since her arrival, she won the CCAA Coach of the Year award in 2004 and again in 2007. She recorded her 100th NCAA coaching victory in 2005 and has led the ‘Cats to five CCAA North Division Titles and one CCAA Championship.

In 2009, Chico was ranked fifth in the West Region and recorded its first-ever NCCA Championship win.

2011 was Sutton’s most successful year at Chico State. That year, the Wildcats finished with a record of 13-6-6, won the CCAA North Division title, reached the CCAA Championship Tournament finals and, for the first time in program history, won the NCAA West Regional to advance to the NCAA Final Four in Pensacola, Florida.

“We weren’t expected to do good that year, we were the complete underdogs,” Sutton said. “It’s a special moment unless we do it again, which hopefully we will.”

Sutton’s sustained success can be attributed to her coaching style which she describes as loving and caring, but at the same time hard and demanding. She is interested in making sure the players feel like they are having a quality experience, and feels that is what has kept the team so successful these last 15 years.

“I don’t measure my success by wins and losses. It’s the quality and the experience the team has,” Sutton said.

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Kim Sutton, women's soccer head coach, is highly regarded in the Chico State coaching community. Photo credit: Allisun Coote

Jenny Jaggard, assistant coach, is most impressed with Sutton’s ability to instruct the team.

“She really is a loving coach, but she has really high demands on them,” Jaggard said. “I think it really inspires them to have someone who is their role model because I think a lot [of the players] look up to her almost like a second mom.”

The young women of the team have someone to look up to and hold them accountable, which in turn helps them grow as a person, Jaggard said.

Sutton has a Chico State record of 141-97-45 and a career record of 268-163-60 with all of her teams averaging 10 wins per season.

Sutton is highly regarded in the coaching community and around Chico State, according to Luke Reid, sports information director.

“Kim is a wise women, she’s been around soccer for a long time,” Reid said. “ I really respect her a lot as a coach and I think she is someone who is a mentor for a lot of our younger coaches, not because she has been so successful, but because she has a lot of qualities that I think they admire.”

Carlos Islas can be reached at [email protected] or @CIslasReports on Twitter.

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Sutton scores success on, off soccer field