Softball: Assistant coach Jenel Guadagno named Cuesta College head coach

Former Cerritos All-State player and current assistant coach Jenel Guadagno named head coach at Cuesta College
Former Cerritos All-State player and current assistant coach Jenel Guadagno named head coach at Cuesta College

During her playing days at Cerritos College, Jenel Guadagno was known as one of the toughest competitors ever to put on a uniform. It showed in the way she played and eventually carried over into her coaching career, spending the last seven seasons on the Falcons staff. Her approach to teaching and coaching had paid off, as Guadagno was just named as the new head coach at Cuesta College and will also be a full-time instructor.

Jenel Guadagno was named the head coach at Cuesta College "I'm going to take every one of my coaching experiences from my time at Cerritos - both on and off the field - and apply them to my new coaching position as Cuesta," said Guadagno (pictured, left), who had been serving as a part-time faculty member at Cerritos. Guadagno, who went on to play two seasons at Point Loma University after her time with the Falcons, earned her Bachelors degree in Physical Education from Point Loma and then completed her Masters degree from Concordia University in Irvine.

In her seven seasons on the Cerritos staff, the team has made the playoffs each year, while they have advanced to the Super Regional five times, including the last four seasons. The team has also eclipsed the 30-win plateau in four of those campaigns.

Cerritos head coach Kodee Murray, who served as Guadagno's head coach as a player, as well as her colleague as a coach, feels the hiring will be a transition that fits her perfectly.

"Jenel has not only played the game but has also been coaching it for the past seven years", said Murray. "She has become a student of the game and loves thinking outside the box. She is always talking strategy and has sound thoughts behind her ideas. She will make a great head coach and Cuesta is fortunate to have her. Jenel will bring leadership, energy, grit and competitiveness when she arrives."

Jenel Guadagno was named to the All-State Tournament team That grit and competitiveness was never more evident than during her two seasons as a player for the Falcons. In her freshman season of 2007, the team advanced to the CCCAA State Championship game, where they were defeated by rival Mt. San Antonio College, 4-0. A team comprised primarily of freshmen, Guadagno was the most vocal about 'never losing to Mt. SAC again'. The team came back in 2008, defeated the Mounties four times that season, including twice at the state tournament, which culminated in a 5-1 win in the championship game.

For her efforts at the state tournament, Guadagno was not only named to the All-Tournament Team, she was the recipient of the Best Hitter Award. Trailing 1-0 in the state championship game, Guadagno was hit by a pitch in the team's five-run fourth inning and raced home from second base on a base hit which gave the team a 2-1 lead at the time.

Guadagno still ranks second in school history in career hits (131) and runs scored (103), while she is third in stolen bases (47) and 11th in doubles with 25. In her sophomore campaign, Guadagno batted .394 with 63 hits, 60 runs scored, 48 RBI and stole 21 of 22 bases.

She parlayed that into a scholarship at Point Loma University where spent two seasons as their starting shortstop. She started all 61 games as a junior and helped them to a 48-13 record while batting .349 with four home runs, 37 RBI and stole 21 bases.

The time that Murray spent with her helping figure out the right path to take has stayed with Guadagno and has carried over into her approach with the Falcon players. "Some of my favorite memories as a coach have been helping athletes become successful on the field and in the classroom. It gives me great pride when they come back to say they have completed their degree," added Guadagno.

"But my favorite memories at Cerritos are playing with a great group of athletes that had the heart and determination to win, despite our adversities," said Guadagno, who added with a smile. "Oh, and beating Mt. SAC in the 2008 state championship game."

"The moment I will miss most is one that has become our tradition right after the National Anthem," recalled Murray. "Jenel always shakes my hand and says, "Good luck, today". Her grandfather, before his passing, would say that to me before every game while Jenel was a player at Cerritos and then when Jenel came back as a coach, it became our thing. I am so proud of her and know that her grandfather is smiling down at her also."

She will be inheriting a Cougars program and went 23-16-1 on the year and finished in third place in the Western State North Division. They return seven freshmen, but will need to revamp their pitching staff, as all three that saw action were sophomores.

"I'll bring experience and a competitive spirit to Cuesta," said Guadagno. "I understand how the community college system works and what it takes to have athletes succeed on and off the field."