Sept. 1, 2004 - AHEAD OF THE GAME: Certain sports may be hurting for players as athletic programs across Tucson prepared to begin their season this week.

But if you take a look around the gyms of the Northwest, you're going to find them packed.

They are filled and alive with the sound of volleyballs echoing off walls, the squeaking of sneakers and, most importantly, female athletes.

Girls' volleyball programs at Ironwood Ridge, Marana, CDO and even Mountain View have been reaping the benefits of strong turnouts this summer.

All four high schools have averaged around 60 girls vying for roughly 35-40 positions from varsity to freshman squads.

For the first time in years, MVHS has had enough girls try out that head coach Rick Ellis was forced to make cuts.

Volleyball is becoming a year round sport for girls who are now playing on club teams weeks after the high school season ends.

Prior to the high school season, several girls from Marana have teamed up together for the first time to compete on a local club.

MHS head coach Cindy Meekin, while encouraging athletes to play other sports, sees the club experience as vital to compete with regional powerhouses Ironwood and Rincon whose players are regulars on the club scene.


Head football coach Pat Nugent unleashed his Canyon del Oro squad on the community Aug. 23. The mission? Raise funds for the Dorado football team. Spreading out to cover the Northwest, players were selling "Dorado Gold Cards," a coupon-style card good for discounts and special offers to 20 local merchants. Half of the money collected from the cards will go toward the Green and Gold Club and the rest to the football team, funding extra coaches and equipment. Essentially, every penny raised goes back to the kids. Nugent estimates the fundraiser annually nets the program around $6,000.


Whatever you do, don't call them cheerleaders. Ironwood Ridge's Cést La Vie Dance Troupe will hold tryouts Sept. 8 and 10 in its gym. This is no cheer squad or pom line, according to head coach Karen Penazek. Rather Cést La Vie is a specialty dance team that will work both pep rallies and basketball games. Although comparisons can be made to a cheerleading team, Penazek insists her troupe is much more than cheerleaders. During the Sept. 8 tryout, dancers will learn the dances. On Sept 10th the judges will be out and a final decision should be made on the team.


The Northern Arizona University marching band will perform before Ironwood Ridge's football home opener against Cienega Sept. 3. Several members of the band attended band camp at NAU this summer in Flagstaff. Now NAU wants to repay the visit by kicking off Ironwood's season. The band will play at halftime at the Catalina Foothills' home opener that same night.


It's nothing but fields of green at the Tucson Hilton El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Country Club. The overhaul of nine holes on the Cañada course is a few fine details away from being complete. Among the improvements to the course is a new alignment to cart paths and a sealer in the bunker to prevent large rocks from surfacing and contaminating the sand. The biggest makeover to the course has been the introduction of Bermudagrass 419 on holes 1-6 and 16-18. The Cañada course will reopen Sept. 3 to the public. On Sept. 4 a re-opening ceremony will be held with a ceremonial "first drive" by club officials. Next summer holes 7-15 will undergo the same treatment. For now the entire course will be open for play, at least until the end of the month when it will have to close for a week to reseed the course with winter Rye.

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