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While high school sports are important to Dodele, she, like most high school soccer players, was "discovered" through the many showcase tournaments she played in with her SCA team.

For her, the high school sports are different and "really fun," not only because she and her teammates have been successful, but also because of the many friends she has made.

Even as she contemplates her collegiate future, Dodele is preparing for the biggest part of her high school basketball season as she and her teammates go into post-season play after ripping their way undefeated (14-0) to the NCL II championship.

"Basketball is really a lot of fun," she says. "There is great chemistry on our team."

She is the daughter of Rich and Sheryl Dodele and has two brothers, Richey and Trevor.

"The support of my parents has definitely been important," she says. "I couldn't have done anything without their support."

Dodele lives in Coati and attended Mountain Shadows Middle School before transferring to St. Vincent. "In the end it worked out well," she understates.

MCKENZIE MAHER

Maher has been playing soccer for 14 years. She is now 17. Combining math and the science of human development, that means she has been kicking a ball almost from the time she stopped toddling and started running.

For her, Sonoma State is a perfect fit. It has a great women's soccer program, it has a good academic reputation and it is close. "I love home, and I didn't want to go too far away," she explains.

And, she is very impressed with SSU coach Emiria Dunn. "I wanted to go there because of the coach. She is excellent," Maher explains.

Playing for Dunn will allow her to continue playing for a succession of outstanding coaches that have shaped her soccer career, beginning with Chris Daly, who was her first SCA coach and ended up coaching her again at Petaluma high School. Along the way, there has been a whole succession of other outstanding coaches, such as Trisa Ziemer, Chris Ziemer, current SCA coach Vinnie Cortezzo and several others. "Every single coach I've ever had has helped me," she says.

Maher is now experiencing what it feels like to be on the other side of the whistle, volunteering to work in a SCA program teaching 6-to-12-year-olds the game. "It's great," she says of her own coaching experience. "I'm enjoying every minute of it."

Maher has also come to love Petaluma High School, although she acknowledges it was difficult at first as she transferred to Petaluma as a freshman after attending Kenilworth Junior High. "I didn't know anyone, but being on the soccer team brought me into the school. It really helped," she explains.

An All-Sonoma County League and all-Empire player in high school, like so many other players, Maher's route to college came through her SCA team and her appearance in the showcase tournaments.

It was after an assistant SSU coach saw her play at the Davis Legacy Showcase as a junior that she received an e-mail saying the university was interested in her as a potential Seahawk.

'"I thought, 'Oh, my gosh! That's so cool.'" Maher recalls.

While soccer is a way of life for her, Maher is also concerned about her academic education. She really wants to study biomedical engineering, but the only engineering program offered by SSU is electrical engineering, so she will major in that, with a plan to do her biomedical engineering studies as a graduate student.

Maher has a solid 3.5 high school grade point average, a mark that is even more remarkable given that she is dyslectic, making studying and learning especially difficult.

"It sucks," she says simply of her disorder. "I have to read everything 10 times over to understand what I just read."

Maher has been in speech therapy since was in grade school. It wasn't until her junior year in high school that she was granted "accommodations" which allows her to receive extra help with her studies.

Basically, however, she has been able to be a success on and off the field the old-fashioned way — through hard work,

"I realized how important my academics were," she says. "Without the grades, I couldn't have gotten into college."

She also credits her family — father, Ryan; mother, Wendy; and brother, Sean with helping her achieve success. "I don't have the words to say how much I thank my parents for what they have done for me," she says. "They are my rock."

High school has been fun and productive for Maher, but now it is getting time to move on.

"I'm so ready for college and what the future holds for me," she says. One thing it certainly holds is more soccer.