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After 27th Season , JBU's Soderquist Announces Retirement

SILOAM SPRINGS -- After 27 seasons leading the program, John Brown University women's basketball coach Jeff Soderquist announced his retirement Tuesday afternoon (March 26) on the heels of a record-shattering season that saw the Golden Eagles capture a pair of league titles and qualify for the NAIA National Championships.

In 27 seasons as head coach for the Blue and Gold, Soderquist amassed a program-record 424 wins, leading the Golden Eagles to seven NAIA National Championships appearances, a national semifinal finish (2014), seven 20-win seasons and in his swan song, Sooner Athletic regular season and tournament crowns for the first time in program history.

"I would like to thank the JBU family for the last 36 years," said Soderquist. "Thank you to the professors and administrators while I was a student, and especially to everyone I have worked with in the Department of Athletics for the last 31 years. To the two Directors of Athletics I have worked for, Dr. Bob Burns and Robyn Daugherty, thank you for believing in me. I came here as a student-athlete in 1988, and never thought I would be here 36 years later. But most importantly, thank you to all the student-athletes that I have been blessed to coach. I love you all, you have meant so much to me and I cherished sharing life with the same intensity and purpose we have lived out for His greater story every day."

The winningest coach in program history, Soderquist orchestrated an incredible final season that produced not only his second-career Sooner Athletic Coach of the Year distinction, but also a bevy of program watershed moments, including the most wins in a single season (29) and the longest winning streak (27). John Brown also hoisted three new banners: winning the league's regular season title (finishing 22-0 in SAC play), securing the program's first tournament crown the following week and making another appearance in the NAIA National Championships. It was the first time the program qualified in consecutive seasons, finishing in the Round of 32 in back-to-back campaigns.

Over the last two seasons, JBU compiled a 50-14 record (.781) and a 36-8 mark in league play (.818). John Brown finished 13-1 in Siloam Springs this past season, setting a new single-season record with home winning percentage of .929.

"Jeff has built a tremendous women's basketball program over the last 27 years," noted Director of Athletics Robyn Daugherty. "He has poured his heart and soul into the program, and specifically the student-athletes, meeting individually with players regularly throughout the year and asking life questions, gathering prayer requests, and ensuring academic success. His commitment to developing the whole person is very evident as you watch the interactions he has with current and former players.

"Jeff has also served as Assistant Director of Athletics and has been a tremendous asset to our coaching staff, and to me personally. I have learned a lot from Jeff over the years and he will definitely be missed. I am so grateful for the years I have worked alongside Coach. I am grateful to call him friend."

Soderquist's players combined to garner 38 All-Sooner Athletic honors during his tenure, including nine first team selections, four SAC Freshmen of the Year picks and one league Player of the Year nod, Tarrah Stephens '23.

He also coached six NAIA All-Americans and a pair of Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-America honorees in Cameron and Sierra Shipley '14.

Of the current top 10 program scoring leaders, Soderquist has mentored seven, including the top three point-producers in program history. Before Stephens rewrote the record books again this season by finishing with 2,223 points, Kendra McCormick '06 did it first by netting 1,793 points – only to be eclipsed by Baily Cameron '19 and her 2,034 points – the program's first player to eclipse the 2,000 point mark.

In total, 14 Golden Eagles hit the 1,000-point mark during their respective careers under Soderquist.

"In his 27 years of leading women's basketball at JBU, Coach Soderquist has been an outstanding example of the way JBU carries out its mission," President Chip Pollard said. "Through his leadership, the players on his teams have been excellent performing on the court, learning in the classroom, serving in the community and representing JBU's Christian commitments. He will be deeply missed, but his influence will continue on for many years through the lives of his players."

Of his seven NAIA National Championships runs, the 2013-14 edition of the Golden Eagles nearly captured a national title after piecing together 28 total victories and 15 wins in Sooner Athletic Conference play, then both program records. JBU ended a 13-year drought against Oklahoma City, the eventual national champion, in the SAC tournament semifinals and made the program's first-ever appearance in the conference title game. At the national tournament, JBU earned its inaugural victory in the big dance with a Round of 32 win over Lyon (Ark.) before the Golden Eagles upended then-No. 1 Vanguard (Calif.) in stunning fashion. John Brown then pieced together an 18-point comeback win Loyola (La.) in the national quarterfinals. John Brown's Fab Four finish marked the deepest run in program history, and remains the second-best national tournament finish of any Golden Eagle athletic program.

Soderquist's Golden Eagles appeared in 50 NAIA Coaches' Top-25 Polls, including four this past season. JBU appeared in nine during the 2003-04 season, a single-season program record, en route to the program's first-ever appearance at the NAIA National Championships.

During his tenure, Soderquist guided his teams to two wins over national No. 1 teams. The first came in JBU's win over Oklahoma City, 59-52, on Feb. 17, 2001. John Brown then upended the nation's top team, Vanguard, en route to a national semifinal appearance with a 65-63 win on March 22, 2014, in Lexington, Ky.

Soderquist became just the second head coach at John Brown University to surpass the 400-win total (Robyn Daugherty, volleyball) after an 83-31 win over Central Christian (Kan.) this past year. He nabbed his 300th career win at Mid-America Christian (Okla.) on Jan. 28, 2017, with a 73-69 decision. Soderquist's 200th win came via a 72-50 score over S.D. Mines & Technology on Nov. 11, 2011. He hit the century wins mark on Valentine's Day of 2004, knocking off Northwestern Oklahoma State, 62-43.

Beginning his head coaching career on a five-game winning streak, Soderquist won his collegiate debut, a 52-51 win over Williams Baptist (Ark.) on Nov. 7, 1997.

After graduating from John Brown University in 1993, Soderquist began his coaching career assisting long-time head men's basketball coach John Sheehy. When the women's head coaching position opened, the alumnus was tabbed as the program's 11th bench boss before the 1997-98 season.

"As my time here at JBU comes to an end, I am reminded of a quote from Mr. Rogers," added Soderquist. "'Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else.' I am excited to see what God has in store for me. I love this place and can't thank everyone enough."

John Brown University will begin conducting a national search for a new head coach immediately.


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