For the first time in nearly four decades, Sutter Union High School will have a new face leading the girls volleyball program.
Ann Reynolds retired earlier this year following 39 years at the helm, in which she won seven Northern Section titles, league titles every year from 1997-2019, eight Appeal-Democrat Coach of the Year honors since 1986, and the third most wins in section history (647).
How do you follow that up?
Elizabeth Thygeson, originally from Beaverton, Ore., calls it a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It’s a wonderful community to be welcomed into. I was also aware of Coach Reynolds’ long standing role as the head coach, and knew that it would definitely be a once in a lifetime opportunity to succeed her,” Thygeson said in an email. “I am very appreciative of the opportunity to do so.”
Thygeson has become familiar with the Husky program since moving here in 2011. She has been involved with athletics in the area for about seven years.
She said Sutter does a good job working with its coaches and student-athletes during the evolving school year.
This past year was constantly evolving with the COVID-19 pandemic altering start and stop times of conditioning and scheduling and postponing games and practices.
Thygeson expects to have a full season this fall – at least right now.
“I am anticipating, and at this time expecting, a full return to a normal season, which I could not be more excited about,” Thygeson said. “I know last year’s condensed season had a lot of excitement, but also uncertainty around it, and for a lot of schools there was no freshman or (junior varsity) competition.”
What this means for Sutter is that Thygeson has a whole bunch of inexperienced athletes.
“This year’s sophomore class is coming in without having played a freshman season, so we have this year’s freshmen as well as this year’s sophomores who haven’t been able to play at that competitive high school level yet,” Thygeson said. “Being in the gym now and working on those skills during summer practices is even more important.”
Sutter’s fall 2021 season opener is scheduled for Aug. 19 at Colusa. It’s the first of three straight road matches before its home-opener Aug. 26 against powerhouse Willows, coached by veteran Carol Martin.
Martin and Reynolds were long-time rivals on the court and friends off of it.
Martin was present the day Reynolds formally announced her retirement.
“I am hoping that the person replacing her can step in because Ann left some big shoes to fill,” Martin said in a previous Appeal story.
Thygeson is ready for the challenge that awaits her at Sutter.
“I am very much a student of the game, so I love the opportunity to learn all of the new and different methods of instruction, and different ways to improve your team’s performance,” Thygeson said.