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Maricopa women are part of the Casa Grande Roller Derby league. Photo by Kyle Norby

When we think of the competitive sport of roller derby, fast-paced, rough bouts and powerful women often come to mind. While true, many of these players may not be whom you’d expect.

The modern revival of this roller skate-based sport has a worldwide fandom, but it is much more than a game to the players who participate.

For the women of Casa Grande Roller Derby, the sport and spectacle have become a lifestyle, and they see each other as family. Four CGRD women from Maricopa have adopted this lifestyle.

Ellen Zoretic. Photos by Kyle Norby

Ellen Zoretic (Victoria Vangore)
Quote: “I try to eat, sleep and breathe roller derby.”

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ellen Zoretic found herself moving to Maricopa in 2011 with most of her family for better weather and cheaper homes. She fell in love with the community.

“It’s been five years since I started roller derby,” Zoretic said. “The truth is that my boyfriend at the time, who I’m still currently with, got into a really serious car accident and he needed to go back to his mom in Illinois and recover. He almost lost his life.”

Zoretic said she and her family attended a roller derby match in Phoenix. Loving what she saw, she wanted to pick up a new hobby while her boyfriend was away. Zoretic went to beginner tryouts the next day. Starting on bank track, an angled field instead of flat, Zoretic developed her persona, “Victoria Vangore,” often shortened to just “Gore” by her team.

Photo by Kyle Norby

After a successful career on the Hot Shots traveling derby team, Gore now plays jammer with the Arizona Coffin Draggers. She also joined the Casa Grande league, became a star player and now plans to focus on being of CGRD’s flagship team, The Big House Bombers.

Balancing the team with her everyday job as a teacher has been challenging but worth it, she said. Graduating from Ohio Dominican University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Zoretic didn’t expect to become an art teacher. After coming to Maricopa, Ellen fell into teaching as a substitute for Maricopa Unified School District. After three years, the district offered her a position as an art teacher. She teaches at Pima Butte Elementary and Maricopa Elementary.

“This is my fifth year in art, kindergarten through fifth grade,” Zoretic said. “I love it. The satisfaction of just knowing that I’m making a difference in their lives and knowing that art is a special area. I mean, a lot of people come to me telling me about their students who have behavioral problems or aren’t good in math and writing. Then when they get to art, they just flourish.”

Zoretic eventually would like to combine her love of art and degree in psychology to work as an art therapist.

April Stovall. Photos by Kyle Norby

April Stovall (April May Dismember)
Quote: “If you’re not falling down, you’re not trying hard enough.”

Growing up in Arizona and graduating from Casa Grande and living in Maricopa, April Stovall has seen a lot of change in Western Pinal County. She has worked at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino for 20 years.

“I started in security back in 1999, then I transferred into surveillance and fell in love with it,” Stovall said. “I took on facilities about 10 years ago. It just kept growing over time, just working my way up.”

Photo by Kyle Norby

While Stovall loves her job, she admits to being a workaholic and wanting something more.

“My daughter graduated from high school, moved out. Things were changing,” Stovall said. “Roller derby was on my bucket list. I Googled “roller derby Arizona.” AZRD (Arizona Roller Derby) came up, and I went to their new-skater orientation. I skated with them for the first three years.”

Her derby name, April May Dismember, stemmed from using months and a word that “incorporated strength and power.”

“Kind of long, but it’s catchy,” Stovall said with a smile. She spoke of the fun of getting into her derby character as a nice contrast from her professional, busy work environment.

Once CGRD was established, Stovall and Chachi Patron transferred to the Bombers. April is now the CGRD manager and oversees all the organization’s operations as well as jam for the team. April is entering her fifth year of roller derby.

“Roller derby to me is probably the hardest, most empowering thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” Stovall said. “It’s an inclusive sport for people of all backgrounds. I love our mission statement: “We empower women through roller derby and serving the community as a team.”

Corinna Velasco-Ivancovich. Photos by Kyle Norby

Corinna Velasco-Ivancovich (Chachi Patron)
Quote: “We’ve prayed a lot, and I really think our league has been blessed.

Corinna Velasco-Ivancovich has been in the world of derby the longest between the three women. When InMaricopa met Velasco-Ivancovich in 2011, she was a member of the Surlie Gurlies in Phoenix, out with a torn meniscus. Having fully recovered, Velasco-Ivancovich has continued her derby career of 14 years, playing with the Big House Bombers since 2018.

“When I started, I was 36. I just got out of a really bad relationship that was kind of abusive,” Velasco-Ivancovich said. “My kid’s dad was an alcoholic, and I wanted to get into something that kept me busy.”

Photo by Kyle Norby

While Velasco-Ivancovich grew up, she watched her father play hockey. Fascinated by the female hockey players she would see at the rink, she decided to take up a different kind of skating. After learning the sport of roller derby, she joined an AZRD team.

“I think there’s a lot of people that’ll lift you up,” said the 10-year Maricopa resident. “If you don’t have like a lot of women that don’t have really close friends, they can find friends.”

The name Chachi Patron was born from banter with a work friend with whom she would always talk like mobsters.

“She would always call me Chachi, so I was like maybe I’ll keep it then,” Velasco-Ivancovich said with a laugh. “I came up with Patron because it was kind of catchy and I’m short and stubby like Patron.”

A single mother of three for many years, Velasco-Ivancovich married in 2009 and cited her Christian beliefs for many of her and the league’s successes.

“There’s been a lot of blessings. You can see in the short amount of time, like the whole community supports us.”

CGRD continues to grow, most recently with its purchase and revitalization of the Casa Grande Boys and Girls Club gymnasium as their base of operations and practice facility. With local women joining the league frequently, a Maricopa roller derby league may be in the future.

Hannah Norby. Photos by Kyle Norby

Hannah Norby (Julia Wild)
Quote: “Once you do it, you’ll fall in love with it”

CGRD welcomes new players into their league with open arms, just as they were welcomed when they began. This has led to more “fresh meat,” what they call newcomers. Still fairly new to the Roller Derby scene, Hannah Norby has fully embraced the sport and finds it as a perfect outlet to get some aggression out.

“In March will be my year anniversary playing derby,” Norby said. “I thought this sport would be up my alley, so I just took the leap of faith and went to one of the meets-and-greets in Casa Grande. Everyone was so sweet and nice, so I ordered my skates and started soon after.”

Photo by Kyle Norby

In her day-to-day life, Norby is a Culinary Arts teacher at Maricopa High School, where she graduated in 2016. After working a handful of cooking jobs in Las Vegas and graduating from the Art Institute there, she decided to move back to her hometown and apply for the open culinary position. Norby now works with her old culinary mentor from high school, teaching the programs she went through. With a clear passion for the kitchen and the art of cooking, picking a derby identity that reflected it was important.

Keeping the theme of food and chefs in mind, Norby decided on the name, “Julia Wild,” inspired by the famous American cooking teacher and TV personality Julia Child.

“It would have been Julie Wild or Bobby Slay,” Norby laughed. “Wild just really stuck with me and felt like it described me.”

Norby finds the balance between work and derby to be a very familiar one.

“I used to play soccer in high school, and I ended up quitting,” She said. “I had like a few years of not doing anything athletic and I really wanted to get into another sport, something to have fun.”

Confident in the growth of the league and becoming a stronger player, Norby is excited to see new faces and encourages anyone with doubts or are nervous to come check them out.

“Every girl felt the same way when they started,” she said. “You just have to take that leap of faith.”

Hannah Norby is the wife of author/photographer Kyle Norby.




Maricopans (from left) Hannah Norby, Ellen Zoretic, April Stovall and Cirinna Velasco-Ivancovich are part of the roller derby league. Photo by Kyle Norby

Roller Derby
Teams of up to five players skate two 30-minute periods, which are comprised of jams lasting up to two minutes each. During a jam, four blockers on each team form a pack with their jammer behind them. Jammers must get through the pack and then around to lap the blockers. A point is scored for every opposing blocker lapped. There are 30 seconds between each jam.

Jammer, wearing a star helmet cover, scores points by lapping opposing blockers.
Blocker forms the pack, hinders the opposing jammer from passing through the pack, and helps their team’s jammer pass through the pack.
Pivot blocker may become a jammer during a legal transfer of the star.

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

CGRD celebrating their new home gym.

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Photos by Kyle Norby

On Senior Night for the Maricopa High School wrestling team, the Rams defeated North High School, 63-15, Thursday.

MHS won 11 matches from 106 up to 285. Head coach Erick Fierro shared the results.

Xavier Rose of Maricopa won his 106-pound bout with Anthony Prudencio to earn six points. In the 113 class, Gabriel Garcia defeated North’s Akshaya Lord, also with a fall.

Angelo Romero and Timothy Quiroz took their matches by forfeit in the 120 and 126 matches, respectively.

MHS senior Michael Peters won his 145 match over Efren Castro by a 6-3 decision. Zachary Kondravy defeated Gustavo Briones in the 152 class with a fall. Cody Long defeated Ricardo Lopez in 160 with a fall.

At 170, Nicholas Mooney defeated Hector Diaz with a fall. Carlos Pino downed Isaac Stubbs in 195 with a fall. Quinton Green defeated Angel Morales in the 220 class with a fall. Junior Hunter Taylor finished off the Maricopa scoring by downing Jose Solano in the 185 category with a fall.

Felipe Diaz took an 8-3 loss in the 182 class. Matthew Blodgett lost in the 138 class, and Colton Reed lost in the 132 class, both through takedowns.

MHS seniors honored Thursday were Mooney, Peters, Thymen Harry and Juan Marquez.

Maricopa’s final competition of the regular season is Jan. 29 at Horizon High School, where the Rams are scheduled to meet Horizon and Notre Dame Prep.

The state championships are Feb. 13-14 and Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

Disc golfers prepare for the Maricopa Open. Photos by Kyle Norby

More than 230 disc golf players from all over Arizona and around the country gathered in Maricopa for the annual Maricopa Open. The two-day tournament used the courses at Copper Sky Regional Park and Maricopa Meadows. The winner, taking home $1,270 was Adam Hammes of Wisconsin. He shot 32 under par. In second ($750) was Clint Calvin of California. In third was Cameron Messerschmidt, Nevada, who won $540.

The top Arizona finisher was Tucson’s Nick Newton, who won $350 by finishing fifth.

Maricopa players fared well in the master’s competitions. Jav Kowalski shot 12 under par to win the Pro Masters 50+ and $590. Sam Russ was fourth in the Pro Masters 40+ to win $190.

The tournament included professional and amateur players.

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Senior Aleina Estrada smiles as a game ends in another victory for the Pumas. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Sequoia Pathway girls’ basketball team is undefeated at the halfway point of the season, 8-0. The Pumas are outscoring their opponents an average of 56-24. Last week, they defeated Imagine-Surprise in a comeback, 68-52, and East Valley Athletes for Christ, 43-39, their closest game of the season. They next play Tuesday at Glenview Adventist Academy.

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Pathway junior Jose Miguel goes up against Imagine-Coolidge in a home victory. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Sequoia Pathway varsity boys’ basketball team extended its winning streak to four games last week and have an overall record of 10-5. The Pumas have outscored their opponents 1,025-793. Through eight games, junior Jose Miguel was averaging 26.5 points per game.

They are in third place in Region 4 of Division 3 in Canyon Athletic Association play, just behind Maricopa rival Heritage, which is 7-3. The region leader is San Tan, which has defeated both Heritage and Pathway. The Pumas travel to San Tan Wednesday for a rematch.

Heritage, meanwhile, has scored 100 points or more in four games this season. They have outscored their opponents 946-856. Sophomore Josh Deakyne is averaging 25.7 points per game, and Logan Porter 24.2.

Pathway and Heritage next play each other Feb. 6.

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Logen Thomas (22) and Asher Miller (23) eye the ball in a loss to Sunnyside. Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School’s boys’ soccer team was shut out through two games this week, losing to Sunnyside (13-1) and Paradise Valley (4-2-1) by identical scores of 5-0. Midway through the season, the Rams are 3-5 overall, 2-3 in the 5A conference and 1-0 in the San Tan Region. They next play Jan. 14 at Willow Canyon.

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Michael Flood drew individual attention as an MHS lineman. Photo by Victor Moreno

Six Maricopa High School football players and three volleyball players drew notice in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s 5A San Tan All-Region voting.

Senior offensive lineman Michael Flood was named First Team.

Defensive back Ilijah Johnson and linebacker Anthony Valenzuela, both seniors, were named Second Team.

On the honorable mention list were juniors Mister Chavis, Patrick Garcia and Tylek Mooney.

In volleyball, junior Shakira Gillespie was named Second Team in 5A San Tan. Honorable mention went to juniors Ashley Brown and Brooke Smith.

Maricopa High School Athletic Director Jake Neill said he was expecting just about anything when region assignments were announced for most high school sports by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

He was confident MHS sports like football, baseball, basketball, softball and volleyball would end up in the 6A conference because of the population growth. That became fact earlier this month. What was unknown was which region would be the meat of their competition for the 2020-2022 seasons.

Last week, Maricopa was assigned to 6A Desert Southwest. There, its competition will be teams from Tucson and Yuma – Cibola, Kofa, Rincon/University, San Luis and Tucson, the latter being the largest school in the region with an enrollment of 3,405.

“To be honest, I’m good with it,” Neill said. “I think it will be good for our athletic program. I think it will be a good fit. It’s not as tough as the San Tan Region, I’ll tell you that.”

The 5A San Tan Region has proved to be one the toughest regions across all conferences, especially in football. He said he thinks Maricopa can vie for some region championships.

AIA football, however, will not hammer out its region alignments until December. Though it is likely to match the other sports, there is a possibility it will not.

“I don’t know how that’s going to work. It’s a whole different group of people,” Neill said. “I would assume they’re going to try to keep it as close as possible. You get burned sometimes when you assume with these committees.”

MHS will only play home-and-homes against the Tucson schools.

“What I told the coaches is, it’s three or four trips a season for you, which, when you look at it, that’s not too bad,” Neill said. “We’ll still end up playing a lot of those southeast Valley schools.”

Region assignments for boys’ and girls’ soccer have not been announced.

Maricopa has moved from Division II to Division I in cross country, track, golf and tennis

Re-alignments for swimming, wrestling and beach volleyball have not been announced yet.

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Sophomore Conner Schrader takes a breather after lowering the school record in the 500 freestyle. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The final home meet of the regular season was a victory for Maricopa High School’s swim teams over Poston Butte Thursday at Copper Sky. It was their third straight win.

“Last night was our final dual meet of the season and the kids swam amazing,” head coach Laura Logan said. “Coaches are extremely proud of their efforts and performances.”

The girls won 96-70, and the boys won 88-80.

“Last year, Poston Butte beat both of our squads, handily, by 40+ points,” Logan said.

Four school records were established, three by relay teams.

First-place finishers on the MHS girls’ team were Olivia Byers in the 200 freestyle in 2:22.56 and the 100 free in 1:02.16, Katelyn Owens in the 200 individual medley in 2:46.65 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:18.46, the 200 medley relay team of Shelbee Beecroft, Owens, Byers and Eva Zavala in a school-record 2:19.19, the 200 free relay team of Owens, Zavala, Aubree Wittemann and Byers in a school record 2:03.66, and the 400 free relay team of Sophie Occhiline, Emily Hollingsworth, Emily Fauth and Witteman in 5:12.18.

In second place were Witteman in the 200 free, Occhiline in the 500 free, Shelbee Beecroft in the 100 backstroke and teh 400 free relay team of Genevieve Pierce, Shelby Eisenacher, Isabella Piwowar and Lexie Nordhoff.

In third place were Zavala in the 50 free, Nordhoff in the 100 butterfly, Witteman in the 100 free, Hollingsworth in the 500 free, Rylee Pirtle in the 100 backstroke and the 200 free relay team of Kaitlyn Crean, Savannah Willman, Shelby Eisenacher and Fauth.

Top finishers for the boys’ team were Connor Schrader, who set a school record in the 500 free in 5:24.69 and won the 100 back in 1:00.86, Joseph Lambert, who won the 100 breaststroke in 1:23.28, the 200 medley relay team of Schrader, Lambert, Abel Rodriguez and Kian Carroll in a school-record 2:03.09, and the 200 free relay team of Kian Carroll, Anthony Nelson, Andrew Varga and Schrader.

Second place finishers were Bryan Perez in the 200 free, RAfe Scoresby in the 200 IM, Nelson in the 50 free, Geric Kammarczyk in the 100 breast, ad the 400 free relay team of Abel Rodriguez, Bryan Perez, Fermin Valenzuela and Scoresby.

In third place were Carroll in the 50 free, Rodriguez in the 100 fly, Scoresby in the 100 free, Nelson in the 100 back, the 200 medley relay team of Nelson, Kammarczyk, Victor Moreno and Andrew Valenzuela, the 200 free relay team of Moreno, Valenzuela, Scoresby and Rodriguez, and the 400 free relay team of Jacob Davis, Krammarczyk, Jose Preez-BArraza and Jayden Call.

Sequoia Pathway celebrates a side out in a Thursday win on the volleyball court. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Sequoia Pathway volleyball team ended its regular season Thursday with a tough home win over Desert Heights 3-2. The victory put the girls’ record at 11-3 atop the Canyon Athletic Association’s Region 5 of Division 2.

It was also senior night as the team honored six who are finishing their high school volleyball careers this season: Mikayla Gallon, Lynniece Andrews, Alanah Stoher, Chloe Shishmanian, Roniesha Davis and Emma Berg.

Post-season play starts Oct. 22.

Also in CAA play, Heritage-Maricopa is 1-9 after a Tuesday loss to Tri-City Christian. Heritage Academy has two games left on its schedule.

The Rams tried to turn shirts and clipboards into fanning devices to cool off in a hot gym Thursday.

Maricopa High School’s team had its annual breast-cancer awareness night Thursday while losing to Gilbert 3-0. The Rams are 4-11 overall, 0-5 in the 5A San Tan region of Arizona Interscholastic Association.

The girls wore special pink uniform tops in a game marked by a lack of air conditioning in the gymnasium. MHS has four more games before the end of the season.

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West Coast Striders athletes Zanaa Ramirez and Gianna Chavez with coach Corey Nelson at Junior Olympics. Submitted


Maricopa has produced numerous youth athletes in multiple sports, with many records being broken and medals won for track and field in the past few years.

When speaking to high school and club coach Corey Nelson, it’s obvious his passion for the sport is a prominent part of his career.

“This will be my third year. I started off as an assistant coach with the [Maricopa High School] track program, handling the sprints and relays,” Nelson explained. “Maricopa is a cesspool of athletes.”

This summer, Nelson and his track club, West Coast Striders, took two Maricopans to compete in the USATF Hershey Junior Olympics Track and Field Championships. Maricopa High School senior Zanaa Ramirez and Legacy Traditional fifth-grader Gianna Chavez ran for the women 17-18 bracket and girls 11-12 bracket, respectively.

“They qualified for what we call Junior Olympics Region 10, which consists of certain states on the West Coast,” Nelson said. “They then take a limited number of qualifiers there, and they qualify for the Junior Olympics national championships and that involves the entire country.”

Both girls had strong results at the event, becoming Maricopa’s first two nationally ranked youth athletes in track:

800-meter run, women 17-18
Zanaa Ramirez 32nd place, 2:30.08 (qualified with time of 2:36.43)
800-meter run, girls 11-12
Gianna Chavez 19th place, 2:34.35 (previous 2:35.30)
1500-meter run, girls 11-12
Gianna Chavez 10th place, 5:07.56 (previous 5:14.25)

When asked how he prepares for these complex championships, Nelson said consistency and technique make the athlete.

“What we did was work on our speed and worked on a lot of technique. Most importantly diet, doing the right things off the track as well as on it,” Nelson said.

Nelson began his track career late into his junior year of high school. After competing in college and professionally, he has retired to coaching mostly, though he has also competed with West Coast Striders, winning Masters 60-meters at the USATF Arizona Indoor Classic. Being able to pass on a wealth of knowledge and firsthand experience has proved to be the backbone of his Club and coaching style.

He is now an assistant coach for the Sequoia Pathway varsity football team.

“If you’re not having fun with it, then you’re probably not going to be successful,” Nelson said. “One thing about track is not many people go undefeated. So, you know, watching them learn from it, watching them excel, be better people overall from the sport of track and field is always fun to watch.”

Whether it is training or just having a good time before completion, both are key components in the track and field experience.

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Photos by Victor Moreno

Practice opened for the Maricopa High School swim team this week, with around 45 students showing up for the Rams. Varsity’s swim season beings Sept. 5 in Apache Junction. Copper Sky is scheduled to host four meets.

Danica Gutierrez finished second in her softball age division at the national PH&R during MLB All-Star Week. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A 12-year-old softball player from Alterra finished second in the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run national championship during MLB All-Star Week in Cleveland.

Danica Gutierrez qualified for the competition by winning her softball age division in the Team Championship at Chase Field. “It was awesome,” said Danica, who plays club softball for the Gila River Chaos and some club baseball. She also plays for the Maricopa Wells Middle School softball team and Little League.

Flying to Ohio July 7 was her first time in an airplane, which caused some nerves. The next day, competitors were on the field in their PHR outfits ready to pitch, hit and run.

Danica is typically a pitcher but said her best PHR event was batting.

Sure enough, in the hitting event, she placed first, hitting the ball 151 feet for 302 points. In the running event, Danica placed second, running from second to home in 9.25 seconds for 375 points. The pitching portion of the competition was different from her previous experience, using a platform. All the competitors missed their first two throws at the target and hit their last four. Danica scored 300 points.

The results were later announced at the ballpark restaurant. “I had a gut-feeling Danica did not get enough points to win the event,” her father Daniel Gutierrez said.

Besides a nice, second-place plaque, Danica came back with great memories – from a celebrity softball game and futures baseball game, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, aquatic and science museums, paddling Lake Erie and even participating in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

“The different groups of kids were able to take the field and shag the balls,” Daniel Gutierrez said. “Danica got to be part of history as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went against Joc Pederson as she shagged the few balls that weren’t home runs. In the championship round, her group was in the bull pen; she almost got hit by a home-run ball.”

This was the third year she has competed in Pitch, Hit & Run.

To reach Nationals, Danica had to work through layers of competition. That started at the local tournament at Copper Sky. She was among the top three in her age group to advance to the Sectionals at Casa Grande. There, she qualified to play at the MLB Team Championship hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Danica Gutierrez (circled in yellow) and the other PH&R finalists in Cleveland. Submitted photo
Danica Gutierrez in Cleveland. Submitted photo

Baseball is not just a sport but a lifestyle for Maricopa eighth grader Brody Matcuk.

Brody Matcuk. Photo by Kyle Norby

July 15, Brody saw his name on the 13U southwest regional team roster for the USA baseball team. With only 34 kids being chosen to compete, it is a major achievement. The next step will be attending the USA Baseball camp in Cary, North Carolina, starting Aug. 7.

Brody has played baseball ever since he was 5 years old. He recalls simply picking up a bat and wanting to play. He also attributes much of his athletic success to the support of his mother and father.

“Thanks to my parents, they looked into it and it seemed cool. I wanted to try out and see what it was like, and I really loved it. I had fun and I met new people, so I really liked it,” Brody said.

Between practicing with his club team two to three days a week in Mesa and working with a local coach, Brody is a busy kid. When asked what he does in the small amounts of free time he has, he said, “If I can, hang out with friends. But I’ll usually play games or swing a bat around the house.”

Receiving a spot on the USA National Baseball team is no easy task, and Brody has put in the time and effort to play with the best. The process consisted of two major tryouts that he participated in down in California.

“For the first try-out, we did infield, outfield, and hitting. For the second tryout we had primary positions and hitting,” Brody said.

By the second tryout, he was able to connect with other kids and made a few friends, with some making it on the team as well.

Brody’s father, Steve Matcuk, who played professionally for teams like the Portland Rockies, has been by his son’s side offering first-hand experience and unwavering support.

“First is dedication. A lot of time and dedication,” Steve said, “I know what it entails, the dedication it takes. I talk to him all the time about, you know, the things that he does now is not so much for this moment in time; it’s more for when you get older.”

With so much going on, Brody’s mother Nikki has been endlessly proud of her son.

“It’s just pretty much the coolest thing ever. It makes my heart smile to see everything that’s now started to fall into place,” Nikki said. “I know how much he’s wanted this and how hard he’s worked. Since he was little, he was always working to be the best Brody; to be the best that he could be. He really inspires me.”

Nikki said Brody keeps her motivated, and they often go to the gym together.

With the baseball camp coming up in only two weeks, Brody will be playing as an outfielder and is eager to get started. Steve said this part of the USA baseball division is known as the “identification series,” which involves not just competing in games, but on-field evaluations and skill testing. The long-term goal is to earn spots in the 14U development series team and climb up to the 15U team, which travels the world and competes against teams from other countries.

When asked if he was nervous to be leaving for North Carolina, Brody said, “Not nervous, just excited.”

Photos by Kyle Norby

Marlins and Seals were spotted at Copper Sky Aquatics Center on Saturday during a fun meet that let the swimmers have a splash and get ready for competition mode. Boys and girls competed in the lap pool.

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Senior Logan Taylor is one of the premier hurdlers in the state.

As the track & field regular season closes, Maricopa High School senior Jacob Cowing has the fastest time recorded this season for the 200-meter dash in Division II.

He won the event in 21.63 (a school record) Friday at the Southeast Valley Championship in Queen Creek. He also won the 100-meter dash at that meet in a school-record 10.71. That is the second-fastest time reported in the division.

Cowing was also a member of the 4×400-meter relay that finished second in 3:31.45. The relay team includes Spencer Gay, Logan Taylor and Amonte Williams.

Taylor, too, has continued to be a standout with remarkable consistency in his specialty events, the hurdles. His time of 14.51 in the 110-meter hurdles set March 8 in the Becky Matthews Open remains the second-fastest time in the division this year. It was also a school record. Friday, he finished third at Queen Creek in 14.73.

In the 300-meter hurdles, Taylor set another school record April 12 at the Hohokam Invitational, where he placed third in 39.09. He matched that time Friday while finishing second, and it is the second-fastest time recorded this season in Division II.

But there’s more. Taylor added the high jump late in the season. He leaped 6-2 at the Hohokam to finish fourth. That jump is among the top 10 in the division. He finished second on Friday with a jump of 6-0. After mulling college offers, Taylor said he has chosen to attend Brigham Young University to participate in both football and track.

Fellow senior Tylen Riley-Coleman hit a personal best in the shot put April 6 at the Greenway Invitational, where he put the shot 52-9 to win that event and improve on the school record. That is a top-10 distance this season in the division. Friday, he finished second with a throw of 52-2.

Coleman achieved a personal best in the discus at the beginning of the season, throwing 150-9.75 at the Aztec Invite March 2. That is seventh-best in the division all year and a school record. Friday, he finished third with a throw of 146-7. He also took a school record in the javelin back on March 2 with 158-11.

The Maricopa boys’ team finished fifth in the Southeast Valley Championship, the final tune-up for the state championships, which start May 1.

Other Rams with top-10 finishes in Queen Creek were senior Amonte Williams, who was third in the 400-meter run with a personal record 51.17; senior Alec Kramarczyk, who set a personal record in the 1600 meters by finishing ninth in 4:42.78; and junior Steel Lewis, who was ninth in the pole vault at 11-07 (personal record).

Maricopa’s 4×200-meter relay team has the sixth-fastest time this season in Division II after running 1:36.80 in the Hohokam. That team is comprised of Mister Chavis, Roberto Esqueda, Marcus Brown and Abel Rodriquez.

Also Friday at Queen Creek, the Maricopa girls’ team finished eighth in the Southeast Valley Championship. Junior Zanaa Ramirez won the 800-meter run in 2:29.63, a personal record. She was ninth in the 400 meters.

The 4×400 team of Kayla Boich, Shakira Gillespie, Ebony Griffin and Zanaa Ramirez was second in a division top-10 time of 4:12.48. The 4×100 relay team of Destinee Chavis, Boich, Griffin and Gillespie was fifth.

Boich finished second in the high jump at 4-10. Freshman Lauren Grist was sixth with 4-04. Gillespie, a sophomore, was fifth in the long jump with a personal-best 16-04. Junior Rylin Balgaard was eighth in the triple jump at 32-04.

The state meet will be May 1 and May 4 at Mesa Community College. Competition for Division II starts Wednesday at 11 a.m. with field events in the morning and running events in the afternoon. Saturday, all divisions will compete in their respective finals starting at 10:45 a.m.

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Photo by Kyle Norby

With two games remaining in the regular season, the Maricopa High School softball team has split their most recent eight games to put their overall record at 10-9.

That keeps them in a position to make the 5A play-in tournament. The Rams are currently ranked 24th in the conference. To end the season, they play 12th-ranked Gilbert Tuesday (Senior Night) and again Thursday. The outcome of those two games could alter the rankings. The top 25 teams advance to state competition.

Maricopa pulled out an 8-7 victory over Agua Fria March 27 before splitting games against Williams Field. The Rams also split a pair of games against Higley, winning the April 5 contest in dramatic style 11-9 with a three-run sixth inning.

The Rams also defeated Sierra Linda 22-5 in between losses to Casteel.

This season, senior Chantel Holguin leads the Maricopa batting with a .556 average. Her 28 runs scored, 35 hits, and 13 doubles are also team bests. Posting similar numbers is sophomore Karyn Meier, who is batting .493 and leads the team in runs batted in with 21 and tied Holguin’s doubles total at 13.

Freshman Rori Gosiak is batting .476 and has 12 stolen bases, while junior Kayla Occhiline is batting .462. Sophomore Evone Santiago leads the team in triples with three and is batting .452.

Santiago is 7-6 pitching with an earned run average of 3.27. She has pitched 81.1 innings, striking out 63 while walking 23.

Freshman Adrianna Armstrong is 3-3 on the mound with an ERA of 4.26.

Danae Ruiz of Maricopa scored her 1,000th college career point this season at ERAU and was named to an NAIA All-America team. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


Danae Ruiz was nonplussed when a teammate’s mother spread the word Ruiz had been named to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) 2019 Division II Women’s Basketball All-America team.

“I wasn’t prepared for that,” said Ruiz, a junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.

A 2016 graduate of Maricopa High School, she was a founding member of the ERAU women’s team. Now she is the first athlete from the women’s or men’s basketball teams to gain the NAIA nationwide honor. A guard, she was named to the NAIA Third Team.

An annual leading scorer for the Eagles since her freshman year, Ruiz had a drama-filled season. She came out of the chute cold and couldn’t quite get her game together. Then she lost her starting spot.

“It was a rough, bumpy road,” she said.

Teams put more pressure on Ruiz than ever before, even staying in her face beyond the arc. New head coach Michael Trujillo decided she would fare better coming off the bench. She had to learn to take that in stride and just think about the playing minutes and not the starts.

“Mentally, I had to grow. Physically, I had to grow,” she said. “And I had to find a creative way of doing things.”

Despite starting only five of the 28 games this season, Ruiz led the Eagles scoring with 12.4 points per game, a total of 348. She let opponents come at her, resulting in 107 points from the free-throw line.

It was her trademark way of getting back up and fighting, something she has been doing since at least freshman year of high school. Before the family returned to Maricopa, she had a basketball coach telling her she would never play college ball or even be an impact player on high school varsity.

“I like to prove people wrong for some reason,” Ruiz said. “When we came back to Maricopa, I had a coach who believed in me and helped me develop my shot.”

By her junior year at MHS, Kati Burrows was the coach for a single season and guided Ruiz and the Rams to the state title. She also instilled a high-level work ethic that continued the next season under coach Melvin Mitchell and helped prepare Ruiz for the style of ball she would play at ERAU.

She also credits her parents for “always encouraging me to keep going” in very different ways. Anna is the softie while Gabe pushes her to toughen up.

This year Ruiz was again named All-California Pacific Conference First Team. For the first time, she was named Cal Pac Player of the Year. During the season, she scored her 1,000th college point. She is also on the ERAU Honor Roll as a forensic psychology major.

Her college preparations had her enrolled in a variety of advanced-placement classes at MHS. At ERAU, she found the coursework a little easier than expected and found a way to balance classes and the travel demands of women’s basketball. She was even on track to graduate early but took on two minors to extend her time.

The Eagles have become a sisterhood, Ruiz said, and she has been pushed into a leadership role, making sure the other women on the team are organized and on the same page. Those were not skills she had expected to acquire but are now part of her toolbox.

While she has been on the path to a career in forensic psychology since day one at ERAU, she is also looking for post-college basketball opportunities overseas.

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Maricopa High School’s varsity baseball team is staying around .500 after a dramatic home win Monday was followed by a Tuesday tournament loss. Hosting Independence Monday, the Rams led most of the game, but had to break a tie in the bottom of the seventh for the 4-3 win.

Maricopa had 10 hits in the game, including doubles from senior Trey Keel and sophomore Jacob Keel. In six innings of work, senior Jose Leyva gave up just one earned run while striking out eight and walking four. He and senior Devin Fiala each had two hits in the game.

Tuesday, the Rams fell to 6A’s Red Mountain (6-3) in five innings, 20-4, during the Bob Everett Classic. That put Maricopa’s overall record at 5-5.

Through 10 games, junior Austin Rapp is batting .438, and sophomore Johnathan Leyva has a batting average of .310. Senior Nico Bandin leads the team with 12 hits, and Johnathan Leyva and Fiala each have nine.

Jose Leyva has the most time on the mound, with 16 innings pitched and leads the team in strikeouts with 20. Trey Keel has pitched 14 innings and has 17 strikeouts.


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Maricopa High School athletes made a mark in Arizona Interscholastic Association winter sports.

Senior Jayla Johnson was named First Team in 5A San Tan girls’ basketball. Her average of 12.7 points per game was third in the region. She totaled 279 points. Given honorable mention were seniors Italy Brookshire and Jene Brown, junior Tayler Coleman and sophomore Shakira Gillespie. The Rams reached the 5A quarterfinals.

Four Maricopa wrestlers qualified for the state’s Division 2 tournament, and senior Jonathan Childers came away with a fifth-place medal.

Childers, wrestling in the 126-pound group, won his first match but lost his second to eventually champion Bobby Tellez of Cienega to land in the opposite bracket. There, he had two victories before losing to Mountain View Marana’s Seth Legros, who went on to take third place. Childers defeated Omar Artaega of Centennial to take fifth.

Also performing at state and wrestling three matches each were freshman Gabriel Garcia and seniors Connor Paine and David Onquit.

In girls’ soccer, Bianca Olivares was named to the region’s First Team. She had 16 goals through 17 games. Saneya Cowing made Second Team. Receiving honorable mention were Mackenzie Ford, McKinley Hacker and Madison Tyler. The team reached the state playoff bracket.

In boys’ soccer, Jaime Hernandez was named to San Tan’s All-Region First Team. He had four goals and eight points. Dakotah Barchus and Kevin Vasquez made Second Team. Honorable mentions went to Mario Gastelum, Christobal Mendez, Asa Miller, Asher Miller and Taylor Russo.

For the boys’ basketball team, which posted a losing record, senior Walter Greer stood and was named Second Team in 5A San Tan voting.







Senior Jayla Johnson, junior Tayler Coleman and sophomore Shakira Gillespie head upcourt at Millennium.

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team wrapped up their extended season in the quarterfinals of the 5A state championship bracket Thursday.

Facing Arizona’s top team, the Millennium Tigers, the Rams fell 71-35. It capped a 21-9 year for Maricopa.

“They fought the entire time. In following them throughout our season, that’s one thing that hasn’t stayed consistent,” first-year head coach RaShawn Calvert said. “In going into games, we start bad and then pick it up. Tonight, I can definitely say they fought from start to finish.”

With four players over six feet tall, the formerly 6A Millennium was physically daunting and aggressive, leaving Maricopa with awkward match-ups. The Tigers ran to a 24-8 lead in the first quarter. Though Maricopa stuck with them in the second to trail 40-21 at the half, Millennium went on a 22-6 tear in the third.

Calvert said she was proud of her team’s accomplishments, saying no one picked them to end up in the quarterfinals. The Rams also saw what they need to do to get to the next level.

“It’s working on everything. It’s getting mentally prepared, physically prepared,” Calvert said. “We saw the best. We saw No. 1 [Millennium]. No. 2 [Gilbert] was in our region. We know what we’ve got to prepare for. We know our weaknesses. We know moving forward what we’ve got to work on.”

Maricopa is losing six seniors, including last season’s Region Player of the Year Jayla Johnson. However, a contingent of juniors and sophomores also saw plenty of playing time this season and stepped up as leaders when necessary.

In Monday’s semifinals at the Wells Fargo Arena, Millennium will face No. 12 Casteel while Gilbert takes on No. 3 Horizon.

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File photo

Two big quarters in the middle of the game lifted the Maricopa Rams out of the 5A round of 16 Tuesday and into the state quarterfinals.

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team defeated Marana on the road, 58-48. That was despite a slow start and Marana’s attempt at a comeback in the fourth quarter. The Tigers were seeded eighth, just ahead of the Rams’ ninth-place ranking, but were without their standout, Anabella Muscoreil, who was injured a week ago.

Neither team could get an offense firing in the first quarter. Maricopa had only a 6-5 lead at the end. Then the Rams went on an intense offensive run while the defense stayed tight and left the Tigers little room to maneuver. Maricopa outscored Marana 20-8 in the third and 22-16 in the fourth to move ahead, 48-29.

The Rams held off a 19-10 surge by the Tigers for the victory.

Jayla Johnson led all scorers with 28 points. Jene Brown had 12 points, followed by Tayler Riley-Coleman with six, Brooke Smith with five, Destinee Chavis with three and Italy Brookshire and Shakira Gillespie with two apiece.

That sets up Maricopa (21-7) to face the powerhouse Millennium team (23-4) that is the top seed in the conference. They have not played each other this season. The quarterfinal game is Thursday at 7 p.m. at Millennium High School in Goodyear.

From Feb. 7, 2019. Photo by Kyle Norby

High school girls’ basketball teams have extended their seasons as the Sequoia Pathway varsity upset No. 4 Jefferson Prep in the Canyon Athletic Association quarterfinals.

The Pumas won 47-39 Monday night to advance to the semis of Division 2. Aleina Estrada scored 24 points for Pathway, bringing her season total to 371.

Kymani Bledsoe put up 12 points, and Jasmin Nafarrate scored seven and had 5 offensive rebounds. Alicia Lewis scored three, and Destiny Rosales had two.

The Pumas, seeded fifth, next play Saturday against top seed Desert Heights at Valley Lutheran High School at 6:15 p.m.

In the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team plays tonight at Marana High School in the 5A round of 16. The Rams are seeded ninth. Marana is eighth. Game time is 7 p.m.

Other Maricopa teams that qualified for the playoffs bowed out early. The Pathway boys’ basketball team lost to top-ranked Eduprize-Gilbert, 102-28, in the CAA round of 16 on Friday. In AIA play, the MHS girls’ soccer team lost to Casteel in the first round 4-0 Saturday.

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Photo by Kyle Norby

Living up to their billing, the Sequoia Pathway girls’ basketball team won their play-in game easily Thursday in Canyon Athletic Association competition. The Pumas, ranked fifth in Division II, defeated South Ridge, 56-23, at home. That puts them in the quarterfinals to play No. 4 Jefferson Prep on Monday at Powerhouse Hoops in Phoenix. Game time is 5:30 p.m.

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Andrew Polidore (center) is a Maricopa middle school student and USA Hockey player. Photo by Maria Correnti

Andrew Polidore and his 12U AAA Arizona Bobcats team have been invited to play hockey in Canada.

The team is traveling to compete in the Tourno International de Hockey Pee Wee Quebec tournament Feb. 12-24 against teams from all over the planet.

Polidore, a 12-year-old eighth-grade honor student who attends Almentia Academy and Desert Wind Middle School in Maricopa, has been playing youth hockey in the United Arab Emirates since he was 7.

He is the son of Benita and Anton Polidore of Maricopa.

“We play a lot of games in Chandler and in Scottsdale,” Andrew Polidore said. “It is a hassle getting out the door in the morning.  I have to make sure I have all my stuff.”

He recently participated in a “shoot-out” at Norte Dame College. It is an event for scouts to see young players perform.

The Bobcats practice at The Ice Den in Chandler, playing after school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends.

“I played hockey four years overseas in the UAE,” he said. “It was good competition, but I needed some better competition, so we came back here. I spent a year on the House Team, and my second season, I went to the Bobcats.”

Andrew Polidore

Players on the team mainly live in Chandler and Scottsdale.

“They come from all around Arizona. We have 18 on the team,” he said.

Talented teams are chosen from across the United States, China, Australia and “many more countries beyond there.  It’s a very good tournament with high-level teams,” he said.

Andrew said he plans to stay in hockey through high school and college, with a goal of gaining a college hockey scholarship. He dreams of playing in the National Hockey League.

“We haven’t figured out what we’re going to do for high school yet, but next season I’m going to try out for the Coyotes. It’s high-level tournaments,” he said.

Hockey can be a rough-and-tumble sport. Andrew said at 12 it is rough but not as hard as it will become when he moves up.

“In Bantam you get to hit and rough around. In Pee Wee you don’t get to hit – it’s a penalty if you hit. It’s going to be harder in Bantam, but I think I’m prepared for it,” Andrew said.

One advantage he has over his competitors is speed.

“I’m very fast. I play right wing on the second line,” he said.

This is his first year playing with the 12U AAA Arizona Bobcats.

USA Hockey has issued a travel permit to the team, making them eligible to participate in the Canadian tournament.

It is an invitation only tournament with a selection of some of the best Pee Wee hockey players in the world.

“I want to win in Canada and I want to meet people on good, higher-level teams,” he said. “I want to see where I and my team place against those teams. I want to see if we have anything to improve on when I go to Bantam. I think Quebec is one of my steps to the NHL.”

His father Anton said Andrew is always improving and growing as a hockey player.

“To get him to the highest level, we need to work together as a family and make sure everyone is doing their deeds,” he said.

His mother Benita said Andrew is very passionate about hockey. “It is an investment in his future. He wants to play college,” she said.

Both parents always attend his games and practices.

“I have a life outside of hockey and I want to do a lot of other things. I want to go into a field of science – forensic science. I also want to do engineering,” he said.

Andrew said he looks up to his parents as his heroes in life.

“They have helped me through every step to get to hockey,” he said. “My parents were always supportive during those times. It’s my parents I always look up to even though they don’t play hockey.”

Jene Brown (20), Jayla Johnson (12) and Italy Brookshire set up defense against Casteel. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

On a night the Maricopa High School girls basketball team suffered a rare loss, the Rams honored two of their own for reaching the 1,000-point scoring mark for their careers this season.

Tuesday, the girls took on conference foe Casteel. Despite a strong start, field goals became elusive, and the Rams lost 43-28. It moved their overall record to 16-4. It was their second loss in the 5A San Tan section. It was also an upset win for the Colts, who were ranked 16th in 5A compared to Maricopa’s seventh.

Before the game, the Rams took a moment to present awards to seniors Jayla Johnson and Jene Brown. They both scored their 1,000th career points early in the season. Jayla, who has played all her high school career at MHS, reached her mark Dec. 6 in a win over Notre Dame Prep, 63-51. Jene, a transfer this year from New York, scored her 1,000th point Nov. 27 in a win over Apollo, 60-49.

In Tuesday’s game, Jayla led the Maricopa scoring with 10 points. She also had five steals and four rebounds. Jene had 19 rebounds, five points, three blocks and two assists. Senior Italy Brookshire scored seven points and had 10 rebounds.

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A diverse collection of sports stories in Maricopa were interesting for different reasons in 2018. Some were about the new and shiny, others about overcoming challenges while the top story was flat-out victory.

Brandon Harris and RaShawn Calvert are among Maricopa Unified’s new coaches hired this year.

5. New coaches and athletic directors were hired this year at Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway Academy. At MHS, Brandon Harris became the varsity football head coach while RaShawn Calvert was hired as girls’ basketball head coach and Laura Logan launched the swim team. Former boys’ basketball coach Jake Neill returned as AD. At Sequoia Pathway, Glen Hale took over the football and boys’ basketball teams and was named AD.

4. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, one of the top-rated golf courses in the state, was inundated with floodwaters from Vekol Wash in October, causing the course to close for nearly a month. General Manager Brady Wilson and his staff soldiered on, keeping the pro shop and restaurant open while water was pumped off the fairways.

Brady Wilson faced flooding challenges as general manager of Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

3. In Arizona Interscholastic Association competition, MHS football earned a spot in the playoffs out of arguably the toughest section in the state. Sequoia Pathway’s varsity football team finished second in the Canyon Athletic Association’s open division, and the Puma volleyball team reached the final four with two players named all-state.

2. Even readers who don’t usually follow high school sports took interest in this year’s Homecoming game at MHS after a fracas between head coaches capped off the Rams’ 55-0 win. Central suspended its coach long-term, Maricopa’s Harris sat out a game, and both teams were given warnings by AIA.

Photo by Jeffrey Hazlett

  1. The MHS 4×100-meter boys’ relay team won the state gold medal in Division II in May, running the fastest circuit of any team of any division in the Arizona Track & Field Championships in 2018. Longman Pyne, Jacob Cowing, P.J. Austin and Frank Jones ran their lap in 41.51, breaking their previous school record by nearly 2 seconds.

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MHS junior Saneya Cowing (4) goes for one of her four goals against Sunnyside. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School girls’ soccer team improved its record to 3-2 with a blowout home victory over Sunnyside, 10-0, Monday. Junior Senaya Cowing scored four goals, bringing her season total to nine. Junior Payson Hacker scored two goals. Also scoring were senior Bianca Olivares, sophomore Jezelle Magallanes and freshmen McKinley Hacker and Lexy Rowe. Tending goal, senior Mackenzie Ford had three saves. The Rams travel to Agua Fria (2-0) tonight for a 6 p.m. game.

The MHS boys were shut out by Sunnyside, 5-0, and saw their record fall to 1-4. Of the six goals scored by Maricopa this season, five were off the foot of freshman Kevin Vasquez. The boys host Agua Fria (1-0-3) tonight at 6 p.m.

The new disc golf course at Copper Sky is expected to be ready in time for a tournament planned for late January.

A new disc golf course is coming to the Copper Sky Recreation Complex.

It is expected to open by Jan. 26, in time to host the Maricopa Open, which starts that day. The course is complete except for four of the holes, according to Mike Riggs, deputy director of Community Services.

“The nets are in and most of the tee pads are poured,” Riggs said. “There is a need. It is a popular sport. We had a partnership with Ace Hardware to help cost-share on the project.”

The idea of a new 18-hole course began a year ago. With Maricopa Ace Hardware helping the city on the project, cost to Maricopa taxpayers is under $10,000. Mike Richey, owner of Maricopa Ace Hardware, told InMaricopa that he paid $5,000 to Eric McCabe, 2010 Pro Disc Golf world champion, for planning and design of the course, and the city purchased the hardware.

Riggs said this project is very inexpensive, “especially for the amount of response it’s getting.”

The new course is especially designed to host larger tournaments as its “Blue Course” is 7,190 feet long and circles the distance of the sprawling 98-acre park.

“It is a growing sport, so there are a tremendous amount of people in town who play disc golf all of the time,” Riggs said. “Another angle was to go to the tournament level to bring people in.”

The 18 holes are separated by varying distances to challenge beginners and expert level players. The course covers grassy and granite areas and has water obstacles.

“I believe they are trying to hold a tournament on Jan. 26 and 27. The balance of the tee boxes will be in before that time,” Riggs said.

“We are excited to offer this to the inventory of things we offer our community,” said Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot. “That’s what it comes down to. It is both a passive and a direct programming opportunity.”

This is a corrected version of a story that published Dec. 10. The designer of the course is Eric McCabe. We regret the error.

Rashawn Calvert came to Arizona to take over the Maricopa High School girls' varsity basketball team, which starts its season Friday. Photo by Jim Headley


Maricopa High School’s new girls’ basketball coach will surprise you.

Rashawn Calvert has taken over the reins of the Maricopa team this year, but this first-year high school coach sports a master’s degree and even some head coaching experience at the college level.

Calvert, 24, is a physical education teacher at Maricopa High.

“I just moved here from McPherson, Kansas, where I was a grad assistant coach at McPherson College,” she said.

Calvert is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She played four years of basketball at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She transferred to NAIA Division II McPherson College while she obtained a master’s in health science from Fort Hays College.

“I am new, but I think I’m ready,” she said. “As a graduate assistant, I gained a lot more experience than you would expect.”

During her time at McPherson College, Calvert assumed the role of head JV basketball coach and first assistant for their varsity program.

“I had some experience actually coaching as the head varsity coach at the end. I was thrown in to do recruiting and coaching,” Calvert said. “A lot of grad assistants are paperwork and maybe a scouting report. You might help pass a ball now and then. I give a lot of thanks because I have a lot of experience – more than most people at my age.”

She admitted she is a little nervous to lead the team this year but she remains excited by the opportunity at the same time.

“If I didn’t think I was ready, I wouldn’t have applied for it,” she said.

Calvert said she is blessed with six seniors this season, including three returning starters and another senior with playing experience last year. As far as height on the team, Calvert added, “Yes, I have a couple trees this year. It’s exciting to see that we will have some post presence this year.”

As a PE teacher, Calvert said, “I have a lot of athletes that I am using to play basketball. They are hard workers and we get after it.”

The Maricopa team has been in practice three weeks and opens the 2018-19 season with the Scorpion Shootout, a Thanksgiving tournament on Friday against O’Conner at Desert Edge High School at 10:30 a.m.

“We scrimmaged last Thursday, and it went pretty well,” Calvert said.

A total of 14 players are on this year’s Maricopa High team. Last season Maricopa finished at 18-10.

2018-19 Roster
10 Italy Brookshire, Sr.
11 Brooke Smith, Soph.
12 Jayla Johnson, Sr.
13 Divere Brown, Sr.
20 Jene Brown, Sr.
21 Shakira Gillespie, Soph.
22 Tayler Coleman, Jr.
23 Katherine Gores, Fr.
24 Destinee Chavis, Sr.
30 Jade Placer, Sr.
31 Andrea Harker, Jr.
32 Edrianna Harry, Jr.
44 Yasmeen Hanania, Jr.
45 Evone Santiago, Soph.

Nov. 23-24           Scorpion Shootout, Desert Edge HS
Nov. 27                 vs. Apollo, 7 p.m.
Nov. 29                 @Camelback, 7 p.m.
Nov. 30                 vs. North Canyon, 7 p.m.
Dec. 4                    vs. Sierra Linda, 7 p.m.
Dec. 6                   @Notre Dame prep, 7 p.m.
Dec. 7                   @Carl Hayden, 7 p.m.
Dec. 11                  vs. Marana, 7 p.m.
Dec. 13                 @Independence, 7 p.m.
Dec. 18                 @Campo Verde, 7 p.m.
Dec. 27-29           Chandler Prep New Year’s Classic
Jan. 8                   @Williams Field, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11                  @Higley 7 p.m.
Jan. 15                  vs. Casteel, 7 p.m.
Jan. 18                  vs. Gilbert, 7 p.m.
Jan. 22                 vs. Campo Verde, 7 p.m.
Jan. 25                 vs. Williams Field, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29                 vs. Higley, 7 p.m. (Senior Night)
Feb. 1                   @Casteel, 7 p.m.
Feb. 5                   @Gilbert, 7 p.m.