It was about 18 months ago when Jordan Quattlebaum asked her parents if she could transfer from La Quinta High School to rival Palm Desert.
Her desire was equal parts academically and athletically motivated. The class sizes were smaller at Palm Desert, and there were opportunities to become involved with extra-curricular activities and be reunited with close friends made playing club soccer.
It also allowed her to join them on the soccer field and escape the undeniable pressure that would have accompanied playing for her father, the Blackhawks’ head coach.
“Part of it was that I wanted to make a name for myself,” Jordan Quattlebaum said. “I didn’t want to always be known as the coach’s daughter.”
Now a junior defender for the Aztecs and the backbone of Palm Desert’s back line, Jordan and Bob Quattlebaum will take the field on opposite sidelines in the latest edition of the rivalry, Tuesday at La Quinta.
This is not the first time father and daughter have taken the field on opposite sides, yet this may be the most meaningful. The Aztecs are in a three-way tie for third place in the Desert Valley League. A loss would put them as far back as sixth entering the second half of the league schedule.
And a win over La Quinta, the DVL leader, could boost momentum down the stretch.
Jordan played at La Quinta as a freshman before ultimately deciding to make the 5.6-mile move to Palm Desert. Last year, as a sophomore on varsity, she played for the first time against a team her father coached.
“It was very strange last year, looking over and seeing her on the other sideline,” Bob Quattlebaum said. “What was even more strange was after the game, going through the line and shaking all the players’ hands and shaking my daughters hand and saying, ‘Good game.’ “
As both have had time to adjust over time, the two are comfortable enough with the arrangement that they can have fun with it. Jordan will sometimes ask Bob how to defend certain players on his squad, or attempt to divulge other important details to gain a fair competitive advantage when the two teams face each other.
Bob Quattlebaum is very diplomatic in his response, careful not to give specific details while still offering fatherly advice.
“I will give her pointers on how to defend a type of player like that,” Bob said. “But I won’t give her a player’s weaknesses.
“And I don’t do the same thing. I won’t say, who’s your weakest link on your team, or something else about a player. I don’t ask for a scouting report.”
In spite of their involvement with different teams, Bob still manages to stay involved with Jordan’s on-field success. Without an ulterior motive, he’ll often ask her how practice is going, and attend her games when the Blackhawks are not playing.
In turn, Jordan still approaches Bob as a father and as a coach. She’ll ask him for critiques and utilize his expertise to improve her abilities.
Having replaced four-year starter Erin Moller as the Aztecs’ middle defender, Jordan will play a key role in neutralizing La Quinta’s potent offense.
“With her maturity, beyond the leadership role, she has become more confident,” Palm Desert coach Chris Keuilian said. “She’s a really important player for us.”
The last few days, Bob Quattlebaum has had to answer questions about coaching against his daughter. Though he’ll approach this game as serious as any other, his answer to those inquiries are half in jest.
“My running joke with them is that I want her to do well,” he says with a smile, “but just not well enough that we lose.”