A record-breaking 155 career goals and captain of the three-time reigning North Coast Section Coyotes, Sonoma Academy’s Chloe Colbert wasn’t going to finish her senior year as anything but the best.
This year’s All-Empire Small Schools Girls Soccer Player of the Year has a highlight reel of 50 devastating attacks on the goal and 16 assists that only a truly skilled team player could accomplish, but the stats aren’t what made Colbert’s senior year so special.
The chance to really develop in a tight-knit soccer community is what she most appreciates, she said.
“There was a much bigger picture,” Colbert reflected. “It was about so much more than soccer and our team. It was all about the community.”
Colbert, who committed to play for Loyola Marymount after high school, couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of some special events, she said.
“This season was super unique in more than one way,” she said. “There were so many occasions that were special.”
Playing on a new turf field by the end of their season was one of the highlights, but losing their home-field advantage and not practicing on campus was an adjustment that had to be made quickly, she said.
The Coyotes were flexible all season, Colbert said, including in the playoffs when they traveled to Middletown instead of hosting the fourth-seeded Mustangs in the NCS semifinals.
The Coyotes decided to let Middletown host the game so that the small town ravaged by September’s Valley fire could watch its team and benefit from ticket sales.
“What happened in that community, it was amazing to be able to be a part of that and give back,” she explained.
Numerous Mustangs players lost their homes in the Valley fire, and giving that community a chance to watch their seniors play in the playoffs was the ultimate gesture of goodwill.
That sense of community was a game-changer for Colbert, she said, and while she had bittersweet emotions about her final season in a Coyotes jersey, she knew the support at Sonoma Academy and the surrounding soccer community was special.
“I couldn’t have done any of it without my teammates or my coach,” she said. “I knew I was going all out and they were there to catch me when I’d fall sometimes.”
Supporting a leader like Colbert is easy, Coyotes head coach Chris Ziemer said, because she shows up ready to work every day and makes sure the team is having fun, even in the process of winning another NCS title.
This year, she scored two key goals in the NCS Division 3 title game.
“Obviously she is a talented student-athlete,” he said, “but more importantly, she’s a great teammate and she leads by example in the entire athletic program.
The way Colbert carries herself and performs under pressure is admirable beyond just her impressive soccer stats, Ziemer said.
“She’s had a lot of success, but she’s an athlete that puts herself in positions where there’s risk of failure but she takes on that responsibility,” he said.
The chemistry and support at Sonoma Academy is not one seen at large schools around Sonoma County, as smaller schools of fewer than 300 students tend to rally around each other, Ziemer added.