Teachers and coaches who know Coast Union senior Gigi Stoothoff describe her as polite, thoughtful, bright and academically strong. Some also describe her as a shy student athlete — until, that is, she takes to the court in volleyball, to the field in soccer, or when she runs as hard as she can, battling for position, in cross country competition.
Coast Union cross country coach Ayen Johnson explained via email that Stoothoff was “a different person” once she stepped away from the classroom and into a competitive environment.
“Gigi’s athletic persona was one of determination, persistence and tenacity,” said Johnson, who coached Stoothoff for three years. “She thrived in competitive situations and would always give her best. As a coach, she is the ideal athlete because she would listen to advice or instruction and then apply the information in the next race or match.”
Coast’s iconic volleyball coach, Pam Kenyon, who had Stoothoff on her varsity team for three years, said the three-sport standout is “Easily in the top 10 of all the great athletes we’ve ever had at Coast.”
As a sophomore in her first varsity year, “She was a quiet little thing,” Kenyon recalled in a phone interview on her way back from a snowy Thanksgiving holiday at her family’s retreat in the Sierra. “But she was always listening, nodding and applying herself. Her work ethic really shined at every single practice. That’s why she’s an exceptional athlete because she really does know how to apply herself.”
Notwithstanding her apparent reserved nature, Stoothoff is “quite driven, and academically she is an excellent student and she has a group of tight-knit friends she’s had for many years,” Kenyon explained.
Moreover, Stoothoff is “a great teammate. She is always encouraging and kind to her teammates. Never a harsh word came out of her mouth, and she helps others achieve their best,” Kenyon added.
Tamara Corbet, Coast Union’s soccer coach, said Stoothoff “was a pleasure to coach … she was a very determined defender on our team, winning the best defensive award for our team as a sophomore.” Corbet coached Stoothoff for two years.
“She is the kind of athlete that always gives 110 percent, whether she is in a game defending our goal or doing sprints in practice. She always worked hard on the field and had a positive attitude,” Corbet explained.
Stoothoff, 17, who has worked through high school at her father’s West Village restaurant, Madeline’s, sat down for an interview at a coffee shop Nov. 20.
She is the kind of athlete that always gives 110 percent, whether she is in a game defending our goal or doing sprints in practice.
Tamara Corbet, Coast Union girls soccer coach
She played several sports, including volleyball — all three years at Santa Lucia Middle School. She also played club volleyball for two teams, before and during her high school career.
In her first three high school years, she ran cross country simultaneously with playing volleyball. “I just liked to run,” she said. Coach Kenyon accepted that she would be excused from practice when there was a cross country meet.
“And she knew it was good exercise for me anyway. She’s an amazing coach. She is really nice, but she understands what our weaknesses are and where she can push us and where she can’t push us. She can read us really well,” said Stoothoff, who received the MVP and Coach’s awards for her volleyball efforts in 2016.
Kenyon knows how to push each individual player to work on specific skills, Stoothoff pointed out. “Some people may not respond to a certain way of coaching, but coach Kenyon can get around that and help make players stronger.”
As regards her future college options, she is applying at UC Berkeley, UCLA and Stanford, which would be her first choice, albeit she is not sure her grade-point average — which is “pretty close to what Stanford requires, a 4.35” — is sufficient to qualify.
Asked what career she might like to pursue, she answered: “That’s another mystery. I want to take a variety of classes. I think political science is interesting, and so is philosophy, but taking a variety of courses will help me find out what I’m getting in to.”
Whatever Stoothoff does decide to pursue, based on her high school successes, she’ll likely be wholeheartedly focused on that field of study.