Q&A with new Portland coach Cheryl Sorenson

Photo courtesy of UP Athletics.

Last week, Cheryl Sorenson was promoted from assistant to head coach at the University of Portland to replace retired coach Jim Sollars. Swish Appeal had the opportunity to ask Sorenson a few questions about her excitement about the new job, her preparation for the position, and what it means to be coaching close to her hometown.

Swish Appeal: What was your reaction when you were informed that you would be the next head coach at Portland?

Cheryl Sorenson: "My first thought was relief to have an end to the process. Since Jim (Sollars) announced his retirement in Mid-January had to answer questions everyday about but was going on. My next thought was how excited I was to continue the journey at UP with the young women on the team."

SA: What can the fans expect from your teams going forward?

CS: "My hope is that the teams will reflect how I was as a player. There was very little finesse in my game :) but I found a way to get the job done. We have a talented group of ladies that are also relatable. I hope the fans can get to know the players and find a way to feel a connection to the team."

SA: How excited are you in being named head coach of the University of Portland?

CS: "I have a tremendous amount of excitement...and anxiousness, and confidence,etc. I have to remind myself that I have to take one step at a time."  

SA: After you interviewed, what was going through your mind as you waited for a decision?

CS: "I had a unique situation going for me when I was interviewing. I'm getting married on May 3. So I was going to either have the opportunity to achieve a career dream - or the fall back plan - I am going to achieve my life dream of getting married. I'm so blessed that I will get to combine my two loves."

SA: Earlier, you talked about learning from two great mentors; elaborate more on what you have learned from them, and how it's prepared you for this moment?

CS: "I have been extremely luck to have mentors through out my life. Coach Schuller, the head coach at Eastern Washington University, took a chance on hiring me in 2007. She is an amazing coach, friend, mother, and wife. She is a great example that women can excel on the court as well as in our personal lives.

"Coach Sollars gave me opportunities in other areas. He hired me to do a job and let me go to work. He gave his staff the freedom to sink or swim depending on how hard you wanted to work. He initiated many networking opportunities for me and helped me grow to be a more well rounded coach and person."

SA: How much does it mean to you to get your first head coaching position in a place so close to your hometown?

CS: "There is something special in getting this opportunity in Portland. I grew up attending games with my dad. I played in high school state tournaments at the Chiles Center. I get to see my niece and nephew grow up. I use all those experiences to help sell the beautiful city and university. I have been overwhelmed with the amount of support I have received from friends and family in the community. I am very blessed."
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