Think back, for just a second, to March 2020. The pandemic was beginning, of course, but Tammy Sorensen was also considering a return from retirement.
It was a special occasion for Sorensen. Two years prior, she had stepped down at Skyline, which she had spent 35 years coaching various teams. “It was time,” she reasoned, but now, it felt like time to return.
She lived in Blackfoot, so when the Broncos’ head softball coach position became available, school administrators approached her about the job. Would she be open to filling it?
Sorensen didn’t have to think too hard about it. She accepted. Then, the pandemic wiped out the season.
Then came 2021. Sorensen is the All-Area Softball Coach of the Year because a year later, in what was effectively her first season at Blackfoot, Sorensen led the Broncos to to a first-place conference finish and a spot at the 4A state tournament, where the team advanced as far as the second round.
Sorensen may have chosen a strange time to return to the coaching fold, but good luck arguing with the results.
“Everybody knows who she is,” Thunder Ridge coach Brendon Kopp said. “She’s been around forever. She’s one of those that, as a coach, when they stick around that long, they garner some form of respect. I thought she did a good job.”
What makes the job Sorensen did so interesting, though, is that it took some time to develop.
Blackfoot lost four of its first five games of the season. First came two losses to 5A teams, then when the Broncos traveled south for a tournament in Utah, they dropped two of their first three matchups. Then, something clicked.
The Broncos ran off 13 straight wins. They topped two Utah teams. Then, they returned to Idaho to boatrace opponents in their conference and outside it, sweeping doubleheaders like they were lint on the floor. Blackfoot blew the doors off Bonneville. Against 5A power Thunder Ridge, Blackfoot infielder Vic Agado hit a walk-off grand slam.
Suddenly, it felt like the team that got off to such a rotten start was gone now. These Broncos were a new club.
“It just turned everything around,” Sorensen said. “We had our five seniors, who were good leaders. They kept the kids focused. They wanted to win a district tournament, and that was our goal from the very beginning.”
Speaking of the 4A District 6 tournament, the Broncos never really had trouble winning that, either.
Blackfoot opened with a 21-0 walloping of Shelley. In the semifinals, the Broncos eked out a 6-5 win over Bonneville, securing a spot in the title game. The next day, Blackfoot ran away with an 11-1 win over Hillcrest, good for a tournament title and a spot in the 4A state tournament — for the first time in four years.
There, Blackfoot used a 4-3 win over Twin Falls to advance to the second round, where the Broncos fell to Ridgevue. Their season ended with a loss to Century. Still, it amounted to a success for the Broncos, who had been to state just twice before in the last decade.
In some ways, Soresnen can trace it all back to her team's response to a forgettable start to the season, a roughshod opening that gave way to a masterful season.
“We played some good games when we were up there,” Sorensen said. “I mean, we had some good plays, some high-scoring games. We were playing good ball. We just had to keep doing our thing, keep doing what we’ve been practicing, and it started working. They just had to keep believing in that, and not give up.”