August 24, 2017
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VARSITY, Front row: Abby Jackson, Hayli Pasqua and Nicole Perez. Middle: Allison Grater, Rylee Barry, Erika Gallegos, Julianna Guerrero, Skylar Richards, Claire Tiscareno, Kira Martinez and Samantha Johnson. Back: Heather Hill, Julie Tolar, Storme Unsoeld, Tori Brennan, Shannon Wong, Michelle Boulware, Victoria Caballero, Amarra Olado, and Ivy Leroux.

LA VERNE, Calif., August 24, 2017 — After eight years as the face, spirit and soul of Bonita’s field hockey program, you would expect coach Janet Wong to hang it up and tell someone else to store the sticks, balls and goals in their locker. She’s given the program everything she’s got. And with a daughter, Shannon, a senior captain on the team poised to graduate in 2018, who could blame her for wanting to move on. The timing would be perfect, even poetic.


Compare her tenure and tenacity with Claremont’s volleyball program, which has seen eight different volleyball coaches in the last eight years.




“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she said with her unmistakable spunk and fire on Wednesday from the Bonita High practice field.


She simply has invested too much in her program to quit now. Not only does she run the Bonita field hockey varsity, junior varsity and freshman programs, she has started a youth program at Ramona (sixth, seventh and eighth grades) and is talking about starting a boys program.


JUNIOR VARSITY, Front row: Anika Garcia, Apryl Keehmer, Mia Morales, Coach Haley Blockinger, Nicole Mouawad, Brianna Cantu, Alex San Miguel and Sophia Cockrell Back row: Jayleen Barnes, Gia Cockrell, Jordan Goluskin, Jaelyn Dade, London Dowdle, Megan Shadrick, Kasey Sarslow and Madison Plumley.

Her Bonita teams play in the Sunset league, but as far as her approach and attitude toward coaching go, she’s still more in the “Sunrise” stage of her career.


And her exuberance showed on Wednesday, coming a day after an opening 8-0 varsity victory over Temecula Valley.


If Bonita was once a doormat when she took over the reins eight years ago, Bonita is now the door through which other teams must travel to receive the level of respect Bonita now commands around the league.


By all accounts, she’s an equal opportunity employer. While she has stars on each of her teams, she doesn’t give any one standout the star treatment.


“If you miss, you don’t start,” she said bluntly. “Everything is earned.”


She sees field hockey, a sport she played at San Dimas High and San Jose, as a door-opener for her girls.


“I want to make their world bigger,” she said. “I want them to be part of something bigger than themselves.”


That’s why she is so proud of the fact that a number of her players have moved on from her program to play at the college level, including several out-of-state schools.


For her players to succeed, they need to be well-organized and self-disciplined because their game schedule takes them on long bus rides to places like Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village and Temecula Valley and Huntington Beach.


FROSH, Front row: Anette Yoo, Jenette Attaro, Alyssa Kinsey, Hannah Perry, Marisa Ocampo, Krysten Ramirez and Shea Taylor. Back: Terisa Harlow, Madison Cutler, Allie Acosta, Sopie Prager, Ella Rode, Ava Rosenthal, and Sophia Flores.

While the wheels on the bus go round and round, many of her players are cracking the books before and after their matches. Wong’s bus has become a portable study hall. Indeed, several of her players and coaches also double as tutors, so there’s no shortage of homework help that the girls can access.


However, when the bus pulls up for the start of play, the girls put on their game faces and go to work, seeking to execute everything they’ve practiced under Wong and her outstanding coaches.


As for practice, they practice a lot, almost as much as the other major high school sports like football, basketball and baseball.


And as for players being in shape, Wong has that angle covered, too. Her husband Wilson was certified and approved by Bonita as a fitness coach, so she has the fitness coach’s ear year-round about the team’s level of physical preparedness.


This year, Wong is carrying 21 players on varsity, her largest group ever and a testament to the growing popularity of her program. Her plan is to rotate more sets of fresh legs into and out of her contests to keep morale and energy levels high — or at least that’s the plan early in the season.


Early on, she will rely heavily on captains Michelle Boulware and Shannon Wong to lead the team, as well as goalie Abby Jackson, who the coach has described as “agile, tall, fast and dives and gets right back up.”


“I’m excited to see her defend the goal,” Wong added.


As excited as she is for the season to charge ahead, she is especially pointing to Bonita’s two team matches with Harvard-Westlake, whom Bonita usually battles with for a league crown. In the past, games have been decided by razor-thin margins, usually in overtime, and this year’s renewal should be no different.


If anything is different about this season, perhaps it’s Wong. She’s still fiery, but perhaps a little more mellowness has crept into her character. Eight years ago, she was eager to impress her new school and team that she had it all figured out — follow her system and you’ll find success.


Now she entertains more about dialogue and open channels of communication. She talks about the season as a “journey.”


“There’s more give and take now,” she said. “I’m always trying to improve.” And that includes giving her players motivational sayings and books to broaden their worlds.


She also has been fortified by superb coaches at all levels, as well as engaged team parents and donors like Raul Munoz, who donated new goals (they’re not inexpensive, folks), so the players could receive more on-goal practice time and perhaps put on a fundraising tournament down the line.


Entering the season, Wong appears to be focused less on wins and losses and more on building team unity — that eighth wonder of the world in this her eighth season — with, we hope, many more to come.

SHADY PEP TALK: Coach Janet Wong has her players’ attention.

ATTENTION ALL PLAYERS: Coach Janet Wong underscores the importance of team unity in building a winning team.




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