There’s an old saying that a rising tide lifts all boats.
The new softball coach at Maricopa high School, Tom Dugan, is the embodiment of this slogan.
He’s been a fixture at Maricopa High School for the last 17 years.
Prior to being named the varsity coach for the softball team this year, Dugan has served as an assistant coach for the varsity squad and as the JV coach in past seasons.
Dugan has also spent his time working to unify the various booster clubs for student groups, including athletics and extracurricular activities.
Years ago, he served as the president of the football booster club, and from there was instrumental in forming an alliance among all the booster clubs, athletic and otherwise.
It is people like Dugan, who take on behind-the-scenes roles that make athletics and other events possible at the high school.
“Everything is so new in this city,” Dugan said. “But there are only so many businesses you can go ask for donations.”
Dugan realized that sometimes, there’s such a thing as fundraising burnout, and you can only keep going back to the same people over and over, asking for donations so many times.
In order to allow the groups at Maricopa high School to function with a little bit of independence, Dugan realized that the school was going to have to improve its concession game.
So, Dugan, along with his wife Tena, and community volunteers, including Rusty and Lisa Akers and Carol Schrock, to name a few, have worked tirelessly to make Maricopa High School’s concession stands the best in the state.
“Our goal was to make sure that we had the same offering each night, regardless of sport, for the fall and winter sports,” Dugan said.
The upgrades that Dugan brought to the concession program were along the lines of what you would see at a restaurant. It’s fully permitted with the county, credit cards are accepted, and there are commercial grade refrigerators and freezers.
It’s that same teamwork mentality that Dugan looks to bring to the softball team at Maricopa High School.
Dugan has served as a junior varsity head coach for the Rams and has been an assistant coach for the varsity team in the past.
“I’ve bounced around wherever I was needed,” Dugan said. “One year, I was supposed to serve as an assistant coach but due to some changes, I took on the role of the JV head coach.”
This year, the JV team will be coached by Carlos Marin, a past varsity coach at the school.
Dugan feels this year’s team will be a young one. It lost four starters to graduation, but he has an upbeat perspective on the season.
“The girls are all wonderful,” Dugan said. “They want to learn and improve.”
Since December, Dugan, and assistant coach Chris Ansley have been running open field sessions, optional gatherings where players can come by and get some instruction and work on their skills during the off season.
“We’ve had anywhere from 8 to 13 kids showing up at open field to work on their throwing and hitting,” Dugan said.
And while preparing for the upcoming season, which starts February 23, Dugan continues to support his team and everybody else around him.
Since he has a few players who are participating in theater at the school, he’s been to see a few of their shows.
“That surprised my wife,” Dugan said. “She didn’t think I would ever go to see a play. But it’s important to let the girls know that I support them.”
The support extends beyond the softball team.
As is the case with many coaches, Dugan works on the upkeep of his field. He borrowed a scraper to level out the softball field.
While he was at it, he leveled off the baseball field and got rid of a few holes that could have caused a sprained ankle down the line while a player was fielding a ball.
Along with his desire to help everyone around him, Dugan has a remarkably positive approach to coaching and life in general.
“No dream is too big, and no challenge is too great,” Dugan said. “Nothing we want for our future is beyond our reach.”