Cheyenne Rodgers grew up attending Snohomish High School sporting events and dreaming of one day starring for her hometown Panthers.
The recent Snohomish graduate lived out her dream this past school year.
Rodgers played a key role in the Panthers’ girls soccer team’s Class 3A state quarterfinal run last fall. She was a major part of the girls basketball team’s journey to a fourth-place state trophy this past winter. And to top it off, she helped the girls track and field team to a pair of state relay medals this spring.
For her standout senior year and contributions to the state success of all three teams, Rodgers is The Herald’s 2021-22 Girls High School Athlete of the Year.
“It was really surreal,” Rodgers said. “It was just really a dream come true for me, because I grew up in Snohomish (and) watched all those sports growing up, and I always wanted that to be me. … I wanted to be able to wear the Snohomish jersey and represent. That was always a big deal to me.
“And it was just so cool that I was able to have the opportunity to go to state in all those sports, and be surrounded by such great teammates and coaches and people that supported me along the way.”
Rodgers’ accomplishments this past year were particularly impressive, given how rare the standout three-sport high school athlete has become. In this era of youth sport specialization, many top athletes choose to focus on one sport year-round.
“You don’t get many three-sport athletes any more that are able to excel in all three,” Snohomish girls basketball coach Ken Roberts said.
“It’s pretty special when you get kids like her,” he added. “You have to be an exceptional athlete to do it, especially with kids specializing in one now.”
Rodgers has been juggling sports for most of her life.
She began playing soccer when she was age 4. She took up basketball when she was in kindergarten. And she’s been around track since she was young, with her mother being a former runner at Seattle Pacific University and a coach at Snohomish High School.
By age 12, Rodgers was playing on school and club teams for both soccer and basketball. Around that time, she also began running middle school track.
“Since I was 12, I’ve been swinging the three sports almost all year round,” Rodgers said. “And I never wanted to choose a sport, because I loved every sport that I played.
“My favorite sport was always the sport I was playing during that season,” she added. “So if it was soccer season, my favorite was soccer. Basketball season, it was basketball. Track season, it was track. … I never wanted to give one up.”
Rodgers kicked off her senior year with a big season on the soccer pitch, netting 12 goals and adding seven assists as a first-team All-Wesco 3A/2A forward.
She scored or assisted 30% of Snohomish’s goals and helped the Panthers to a success-filled 14-5-2 campaign that included a third-place finish out of 16 teams in Wesco 3A/2A, a runner-up finish in the 3A District 1 Tournament and a trip to the 3A state quarterfinals.
Prior to this past fall, Snohomish had lost five consecutive first-round state matches — including a pair of opening-round defeats in Rodgers’ freshman and sophomore seasons. But by beating Roosevelt in their state opener, Rodgers and the Panthers broke through for the program’s first state quarterfinal appearance since 2011.
“Cheyenne obviously is just a huge presence on the soccer field,” Snohomish girls soccer coach April VanAssche said. “She plays with so much passion when she’s out there. She’s either scoring or creating opportunities for someone else to score, just by how hard she plays.
“And then obviously her speed,” she added. “It’s hard to mark someone when they’re as quick and fast as Cheyenne is. She created a lot of opportunities for us as a team just with her sheer athleticism.”
For Rodgers, this past soccer season was especially meaningful.
She got to experience success alongside her younger sister, Sara, a junior midfielder who had a massive year with 31 goals and five assists. The two sisters, who have played soccer together for most of their lives, combined to score more than two-thirds of the Panthers’ goals.
“Being able to cap our last year (together) with a great state run and a great season, it meant a lot to me,” Rodgers said. “It was so fun.”
“They absolutely treasured playing together,” VanAssche added. “… Just the amount of fun that they had playing together, it was really special to see.”
Rodgers followed with a standout season on the hardwood this past winter, using her all-around skill set to do a bit of everything for Snohomish.
As a 5-foot-5 guard, she averaged 11.2 points per game and shot 36.5% from 3-point range. She added 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest. She provided lockdown defense and swiped 1.8 steals per game. And she was a first-team All-Wesco 3A/2A selection and a second-team Herald All-Area pick.
Rodgers helped lead the Panthers to an 18-5 campaign, capped by a 3A state quarterfinal appearance and a fourth-place state trophy. It was the program’s fourth top-four state finish in the past six state tournaments.
One measure of Rodgers’ immense value was the sheer amount of time she spent on the court. In her team’s four games at the Hardwood Classic, she played 122 out of 128 minutes.
“We definitely don’t end up fourth in state without her and all that she did,” Roberts said.
Rodgers, a three-year starter in basketball, has always excelled on defense. That was what earned her a spot in the starting lineup as a sophomore.
“Her defense is phenomenal,” Roberts said. “I mean, it’s elite on-ball defense.”
But this season, Rodgers made significant strides as a shooter and an overall offensive threat.
“Her offense came along a long ways,” Roberts said. “… She became much more of an all-around player.”
Rodgers credited two of her teammates — Eastern Washington University-bound guard Ella Gallatin and point guard Jada Andresen — for helping elevate her offensive game.
“They pushed me at practice to be so much better of an (offensive player) than I really ever thought I would be, because I had thought I was really just a defender,” Rodgers said. “This year, I got my shot down and I just worked really hard offensively.”
After the Panthers fell short of state in 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the 2021 postseason, Rodgers said this year’s state run was particularly rewarding.
“I think last year we would’ve had a really good team that would’ve made a great state run,” Rodgers said. “Being able to do that this year meant the world to me.”
In the spring, Rodgers capped her accomplishment-laden year by helping Snohomish to a pair of 3A state relay medals in track. Running as the third leg in both events, she contributed to a fourth-place medal in the 4×100 relay and a fifth-place medal in the 4×200 relay.
Rodgers battled through tendonitis in her legs during the season, which she said stemmed from overuse. At one point this spring, she was simultaneously doing track, club soccer, weight lifting and a bit of basketball.
But despite the challenges, Rodgers said she was glad she returned to track after taking a break from the sport the past two seasons.
“I pushed myself a lot, just with (my body) being tired and it being my third sports season,” she said. “But it ended up being so rewarding. … Track season was just an amazing way to cap off high school.”
Rodgers will continue her athletic career by playing Division III basketball at Whitworth University in Spokane, where she plans to study biology. After spending so many years juggling sports, she said she’s excited to focus all her energy on one.
“I fell in love with basketball more than anything this year,” Rodgers said. “And I’m just so excited to go somewhere and be able to focus on one sport and just see where that takes me.”
Roberts said he’s confident Rodgers will continue to find success at the next level. And he’s grateful for the impact she made on Snohomish athletics.
“She just loves to compete in anything and plays hard and has a joy about her when she’s doing it,” Roberts said.
“She did a great job with helping other kids understand what it means to be a Panther, and being team-first and a part of something bigger than yourself.”