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LA HABRA : Coach ‘Briq’ Is a Rock to Her Team

La Habra High School girls softball coach Sue Briquelet gets her team ready to play ball by working on their their batting, running and fielding techniques.

What makes her different from other coaches who do the same thing, however, is that Briquelet spends countless hours coaching her 13 team members off the softball field as well, building self-confidence, camaraderie and trust.

When the girls need help with homework or advice about boys, peer pressure or family problems, they go to Briquelet, whom they affectionately call “Briq.”

Briquelet’s style captured the attention of the California Coaches Assn., which has named her Softball Coach of the Year for 1994. Being the recipient of the award means “you are the best,” said John Williams, CCA president.

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Briquelet said she is honored to win the title but that she received the recognition only because her team has been successful. Since Briquelet became the school’s varsity softball coach three years ago, the team has reached semi-finals competition in California Interscholastic Federation playoffs and has a 48-8 record for the past two seasons.

“I’m really humbled by this award,” the 32-year-old coach said. “It blows me away.”

Players say that Briquelet, who also teaches math, is too modest and deserves the accolade.

“We always make it to CIF because of Briq,” said Aimee Weathers, 16. “She knows what it takes to get us there, but she’s not just a good coach, she’s also like a second mom to us. She always goes out of her way for anyone on the team and makes each one of us feel special.”

The secret to the team’s success, Briquelet said, is that “the kids just click, and they do what it takes to be better than the rest. . . . They know they are doing their very best.”

Briquelet said that as a high school and college softball player, “I never really reached my peak. . . . I’m a frustrated athlete, and so I pour my life into this team.”

On a recent afternoon, the coach and her team sat under a tree next to the softball field, sharing personal concerns and talking about how to make “good life choices.” Such “team talks” last about an hour or so, once or twice a season, and players walk away feeling they’ve been heard and with a sense of belonging, Briquelet said.

“Pep talks are OK,” she said, but becoming a winner means more than just scoring a run, according to Briquelet. “It means you always try your best in everything you do.”

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Assistant Principal Terry Kent said Briquelet is an “enthusiastic and caring person who places a high priority on the students and their individual success, not only in sports but in their own lives.”

One of Briquelet’s greatest admirers is her assistant coach and father, Mick Constuble.

“I coached Sue from when she was in fourth grade through high school, and she’s a better coach than I was,” he said. “I marvel at her skill in both teaching and coaching, and her athletes absolutely love her and hate to disappoint her.”

Besides Briquelet, three other coaches from Orange County have been named coaches of the year by the CCA. They are John Azevedo of Calvary Church High School in Anaheim; wrestling; Lance Stewart of Corona del Mar High School, girls volleyball, and Sherri Ross of El Toro High School, girls swimming.

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