Roger Sonderland


Roger was born and raised in Richland, Washington- the home of the Bombers. He went to his first state tournament at the age of 2 to watch his brother John. He went to his second state tournament at the age of 6 to watch his brother David. Both played for coach Art Dawald, Hall of Famer in 1975.

This created a special feeling about state tournaments that is still there to this day. Growing up in Richland, all of the kids wanted to be Bombers.

When Roger got to high school the coaches were: Frank Teverbaugh, Hall of Famer 1990; Phil Neill, Hall of Famer 2015 and Jim Castleberry, Hall of Famer

2015. His neighbor was Toivo Piipo, Hall of Famer 2010. As you can see, there were many great coaches behind the success at Richland.

Roger was a three year starter for the Bombers. They had a 65-12 record from 1975-1977. They finished fourth in 1975 and finished second to Mountlake Terrace in 1977. In 1980 Roger played for Bill Pandiani at Wenatchee Valley and they won the NWAAC championship beating Columbia Basin in the finals. He played one more year at Carrol College and then finished up his degree at Central Washington. While there he struck up a friendship with Dean Nicholson, Hall of famer 1990. They spent many nights talking basketball and sipping a beverage or two.

After graduating he married his wife Carol. Carol has worked in education as a teacher, administrator and board member and is the Rock of the family. They have three children: Daniel who is the head boys basketball coach at Ki-Be, Brandy who is the head volleyball coach at Kennewick and Drew who is a Physicians Assistant in Richland. The whole family has helped Roger as coaches, keeping stats and cheerleaders for the Panthers.

In 1985 Roger was hired to be the head boys basketball coach at River View High School in Finley, Washington by John Doran. John was the athletic director for all 33 years of Rogers coaching career. River View had not had much success in basketball or any sport up to that point. It took Roger and his assistants many long days to change the culture of the River View Panthers. Once that culture changed the Panthers started enjoying success in Football, Baseball and Basketball.

Many former players would come and practice with the current players to help show them the way we play the game. One of the aspects of coaching Roger enjoyed most was the way former players would bond with the current players to become a part of the Panther tradition.

Every year there are new players, new challenges and new opportunities. Roger always looked forward to seeing how each team would become to be the best they could be. Basketball is a great game and can provide many wonderful experiences for a young man. Over the years the Panthers played all over the Northwest, spent a Christmas in Hawaii, played in 8 state tournaments and made many new friendships. Roger was named coach of the year in his league 11 times and was the Seattle P.I. class lA coach of the year in 2008.

Roger would like to thank all the players who made these 33 years so special. He would especially like to thank all of his assistant coaches with a special shout out to Dennis Traver, Brian Eisenbarth and Joe Dubsky (RIP) who were a big key to our success. Panther Pride Runs Deep Inside!!