Community Connections, Faces of the J, Fitness, Kids + Teens + Families

For the Love of the Game

SJCC’s new Youth Sports & Recreation Manager is ready to share her love of sports with the community

Sarah Stochel has always been obsessed with sports—and over the years, the J has fueled a lot of that obsession. From kids’ soccer and basketball leagues to summer camp, Sarah spent a lot of time running around at the J with her twin sister, Emily. At 14, she followed in her older brother’s footsteps to become a Counselor in Training for Sports Camp. “When I found out he got paid to spend the day playing sports with kids, that was all I needed to know,” she said.

After her first sports job at the J, she never looked back. Sarah studied Recreation Management & Leadership at Western Washington University, and went on to work in recreation around the Puget Sound at Camp Kalsman, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, and Arena Sports. In January, she started as the J’s Youth Sports & Recreation Manager. Outside of work, she also plays both indoor and outdoor semi-professional soccer on the Snohomish County FC Steelheads. “My whole life has been about sports,” she said. “I just love it.”

Sarah is looking forward to sharing her love of sports with the kids and families at the J. “I’m excited to bring people together doing something that’s so beneficial and can bring so much joy.”

In addition to the health benefits of being active, Sarah points to several other positive impacts. “Sports is kind of like music – it’s a universal language. It’s a great way to make friends, to realize your potential, and to see the payoff of hard work,” she said. “Sports have always helped me through challenging times in my life, and it can be a helpful outlet for kids as they process their emotions.”

This spring, Sarah is excited to lead the return of the J’s Dinky Dunkers basketball league for kids in pre-k through 3rd grades (learn more here). She’s also looking forward to launching sports clinics, outdoor leadership programs, and more in the coming months. And of course, she’s counting down the days until she returns to the program that started it all: Summer J Camp’s 2023 Sports Camp, starting in June.

In all of her coaching roles, Sarah strives to be empathetic and prepared, to foster healthy competition, and to connect with each individual player. Above all, she wants people to have fun and get a chance to fall in love with sports just like she did.

“I want to create accessible, low-stakes programs that engage our community in healthy fitness and sports activities,” she said. “I’m excited for people to try something new, to meet new friends, and gain some really cool new skills.”