Doing Work with DJonkins

The Woodlands Piper is soccer elite

The Woodlands Piper is soccer elite
Piper will be on her way to Duke in 2019 Vype

The Woodlands High School soccer program has one of the most over-qualified team managers in the country.

Sarah Piper is a national recruit headed to Duke in 2019, but was relegated to carrying bags and balls for the Highlanders.

As a member of the Dynamo-Dash Youth Development Academy, she has agreed to not play at the high school level.

“I had a great experience playing for The Woodlands my sophomore year and we had a great season,” Piper said. “Coach (Dina) Graves allowed me to be the manager this year just so I could be around the program. These are my best friends and are fun to be around. I loved it from the social aspect.”

Piper is an elite athlete and is training for the next stage of her career.

“I love the club training experience,” she said. “I’m pretty serious and focused. That’s how club soccer is. It’s also the entire year, instead of half of it.”

She also played on the national teams, which have traveled to the likes of Italy, England and Australia. This isn’t new to Piper, having a brother who played at Yale and a sister currently playing at Texas A&M.

“My parents never played soccer, but got my older siblings into it when they were young,” she said. “I just fell in love with the sport going to their games, which led to me playing.”

Her hard work and skill made her one of the most coveted 2019 recruits in the country. So why Duke?

“My parents told me to make a list of the Top 25 academic schools and the Top 25 soccer schools in the country, and pick from there,” she said. “Honestly, Duke wasn’t in the Top 25 teams when I committed, but they are making a comeback. Then I went on a visit and fell in love with the campus. It’s just the right fit for me.”

Not to put the cart before the horse, but we had to ask where she sees herself in five to 10 years?

“I want to be the best I can be at Duke,” she said. “If the opportunity to play professionally after my time there, sure I would love to. I think I would like to play in a foreign country to learn a different culture. If not, I think I will go into medicine.”

“Sarah is very similar to her sister, Texas A&M soccer star, Grace Piper, who I also train,” Derrick Jonkins said. “She has a relentless work ethic and is a very smart young lady who knows exactly what she wants. One thing I tell people is that you can’t teach work ethic. It’s something that is instilled in you and it starts at home.

“As long as she keeps working and stays focused, she should easily play professionally some day. I’m just blessed to be able to work with an athlete of her caliber. We discuss almost every week what she wants to focus on. Lately, it’s been getting stronger in the weight room. She can already run like a deer, but now as she adds the power and the strength, she will be unstoppable.”

For more information about Derrick Jonkins and his new facility, go to

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Extremely positive Yordan Alvarez update from Astros opens door for landmark year

It's a new year for the Houston Astros as they return to action for their first game of the spring against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.

Every season we see some adjustments to the roster which means we also see some changes in leadership. As Astros fans, we're all aware of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker's contract situations. Breggy could be gone after the season, and Tucker could follow one year later.

Which means it's pretty clear who the leaders of the team will be for the foreseeable future. Not only are these guys two of the best players on the club, but they're also under contract for several more years. In Altuve's case, through the 2029 season. For Yordan, he won't sniff free agency until 2029.

While these guys aren't your typical vocal leaders, they are both highly respected and lead by example. Leadership is something that's front of mind for Yordan this season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.

Another way to be a leader is to do everything you can to be available for your team. Alvarez changed his diet in the offseason hoping it will help him stay healthy this year.

Manager Joe Espada said Alvarez is fully healthy and he plans on playing him earlier than normal this spring.

Currently, Yordan is trending down in games played for three straight seasons. But he's such a great player that he needs fewer games to put up massive numbers.

He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2022, and he only played in 135 games out of a possible 162.

So with that in mind, how many games does Yordan need to play this year to win an MVP?

Plus, who's going to protect him in the lineup? With new manager Joe Espada in place, it's hard to know what the lineup will look like.

One thing we do know, Espada immediately named Josh Hader his closer when spring training began. He also told the media that he wants Jeremy Pena to know where he's going to hit every day when he comes to the ballpark.

Espada values players knowing their roles, and getting comfortable in their routines. Something very different from last season when manager Dusty Baker moved Pena all over the lineup throughout the season.

So what does all this mean for Yordan?

Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!

Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.

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