Sept. 2, 2016
"We are really excited to have Sydney join our water polo family," said Leonardi. "She brings experience as a player, coach and educator. She is exactly what our program needs in our third year."
Sonoda, a former player for Leonardi at Cal State Northridge, lands her first college coaching job after coaching the last two years at Elite Water Polo Club in Murrieta, Calif. She assisted in practice and game plans, developed an offseason strength and conditioning program and was involved in fundraising.
She also has experience as an assistant coach at Murrieta Valley High School, leading the JV team to a victory in the league finals and aiding the varsity to a CIF Division II championship. In 2015-16, she was a youth and cadet coach for the USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program.
While coaching at the Elite Water Polo Club from 2014-16, Sonoda also was a designated instructional services aide at Murrieta Valley High School for one year after working as an extended daycare program assistant from 2012-14 at Encinitas Union School District.
"One key aspect is Sydney understands what our six pillars are," said Leonardi. "She has been living by those core values since her playing days at CSUN. I am excited for her to come in and give us a boost in the recruiting process and help the current student-athletes assimilate to our six pillars."
The program's six pillars of culture, leadership, teamwork, accountability, respect and communication are the foundation in which the team earned its highest finish in school history with fourth place at the NCAA Championships last season.
Sonoda graduated from Cal State Northridge in 2011 with a dual degree in criminal justice and sociology. As a player at CSUN, she scored 143 career goals and had 101 career steals. She was a two-time All-Big West selection and honorable mention All-America in 2010. She earned the team's work ethic award in 2009, the team's offensive MVP in 2011 and the team's rookie of the year honor in 2008.