Dawn Lee is one win from matching the 243 games her father won as Dons coach.
Numbers began being marked on the forearms of the Cathedral Catholic High players during the Southern California Regional girls soccer playoffs last season.
First, 242, then 243 …
And now the count resumes into this season, each signifying the next career victory for Dons coach Dawn Lee. With No. 243, she will match the career total of her father and predecessor, Butch Lee, who established a standard of excellence at the school then known as USDHS.
The next win could fittingly be in the season-opening Butch Lee Memorial Tournament, which starts today and concludes with the championship game at Cathedral on Saturday.
“That’d be awesome if it happens then,” said Dawn Lee, whose team opens the elite tourney against Torrey Pines. “It hit us (late) last year. The girls are very aware of it, and it’s ended up being an extra goal. They want to get that going.”
Butch Lee compiled an overall record of 243-45-33 in 12 seasons guiding the Dons until his death at age 55 in 1998, midway through the high school campaign. The coaching reins were then inherited by Dawn, Class of ’89, who played under him and then assisted him for three seasons each.
Cathedral’s 16 section championships are evenly split between father and daughter. The Dons ended a three-year title drought by taking the Division III crown last winter in the 14th season for Dawn, who has a career mark of 242-89-53.
“My dad was really good about getting the best out of every player whether they were a starter or (reserve),” Dawn Lee said. “I try to do that really well, too. Also, it’s making it more of a relaxed atmosphere. It’s stressful for the girls in club (soccer). I want them to enjoy this. So it’s cool to put on your school uniform and do that with pride.”
In memory of Butch Lee, incoming players annually hear the tale of the ladybugs. During the first practice after his death, there were so many ladybugs present that it was suggested that he had come back in the form of one to watch. In turn, they’ve become a symbol for the Dons.
“It’s just good luck,” said senior defender Lindy Porritt, who has committed to the University of Michigan. “They’re everywhere. Even away tournaments, they’re there and helping us.”
Porritt and Mikaela Kraus, a midfielder who has committed to Colorado, spearhead a contingent of five fourth-year members. In all, there are 17 players back from last season’s team that reached the regional semifinals, paced by junior forward Brittany Doan, an all-section selection as a sophomore.
“The main thing is to be a family,” Porritt said. “If you’re a family off the field, you can get through anything on the field. That really does help our game. We’re playing for each other.”
Definitely included in this family is the coach.
“Dawn is like a mom or sister for us,” Porritt said. “If we consider her a mom, she’s a pretty cool mom. She’s always there for us. The goal is definitely winning, but it’s more or less learning from your mistakes. She also reminds us exactly why we play soccer, not just for college.”
So the count goes on … 243 … 244 ..."