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There was a time, not that long ago, when Arizona’s high school State track meets (plural) were must-see events. They would hold three different meets across the Valley (and sometimes in Tucson). The schools in the 5A (back then, it was the highest level, the biggest schools) would have its …

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A few years back, I was in Eagar, Arizona, which is technically a suburb or Springerville (if you can think in terms that tiny). I was coaching a high-school track team and we had made the nasty four-hour drive (including going through the white-knuckle Salt River Canyon) to take part in one…

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With the arrival of the month of May comes two of our favorite things—Orange Dream eegee’s and State Tournament play in the various high-school spring sports. For reasons that no one has ever explained, tennis has always finished a couple weeks or so ahead of baseball, softball, and track &a…

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If I were the girls’ tennis coach at Lee Williams High School in Kingman, I would be absolutely livid. As it is, I’m a tennis coach from a school more than 300 miles away from Kingman and I’m fuming, as well. Indeed, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of the 200 or so girls’ tennis coac…

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It’s all a numbers game now for Danielle Tuakalau. It’s been about 10 weeks since she had the reconstructive surgery to repair her torn ACL and meniscus. But an unknown number of months stretch out before her, months of new and different types of pain and tiny bits of progress too miniscule …

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Like Diogenes walking through the streets of ancient Greece, lantern in hand, searching for an honest man, I have spent time this spring season searching for a beach volleyball player who prefers the outdoor game to the version played indoors. As we near the end of the regular season, the sc…

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Samaya Durazo feels as though she’s about to get blown away—not by her opponent across the tennis net from her, but by the winds that are howling from west to east in advance of an approaching storm. When she’s finally done with the match (she lost the best-of-three in a tie-breaker), she fo…

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The great announcer Vin Scully once told a story about these two guys. One guy asked the other what he thought was the most incredible invention of all time. The second guy thought about it for a while and then responded, “The thermos.” 

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Afer being canceled last year—only the second time in nearly a century—the Tucson Rodeo, part of La Fiesta De Los Vaqueros, is back. This year’s rodeo actually started with a few events last weekend, but the main event begins in earnest tomorrow. First off will be the Rodeo Parade, billed as…

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Every sport has unique virtues and drawbacks. Ice hockey is super-fast and graceful, but it’s unlikely that anyone has ever actually seen a goal scored. The players come flying down the ice, one of them draws his stick back and swings, the puck disappears in a blur and then a light goes on. …

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A couple months back, Marana High School graduate Christian Flores jumped in his vehicle and drove seven hours to Los Angeles, the place that Orson Welles once referred to as “a bright and guilty place.” He was going to the shiny, almost-new SoFi Stadium to watch his beloved Chargers play. A…

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A quarter-century ago, Brian Peabody (now the men’s basketball coach at Pima Community College) was the boys’ coach at Salpointe High School. He was then (and remains today) a real go-getter. For the entire month of June, he would run youth basketball camps in the daytime and high-school sum…

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Looking back, it was a season nobody really expected. The Canyon Del Oro football team was supposed to be pretty good, certainly good enough to make a run at a berth in the Class 4A State playoffs. But then, quite unexpectedly, they started off the season with three straight losses. 

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Back in the late 1990s, I was coaching girls’ basketball at Amphi High. We were in the midst of a championship season (as it turns out, the only one in that particular sport in the school’s history), and I was feeling pretty good about things. I happened to mention to the athletic director t…

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It only took a couple hours for six months’ work to come crashing down around Dezmen Roebuck and his Marana High School football teammates. Just a couple weeks earlier, the Tigers seemed like a sure bet to make it to the state tournament. They sat in the 10th spot in the Arizona Interscholas…

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Just last week, the Tommy Lloyd Era of University of Arizona men’s basketball began. I was going to go—just as I had gone to Lute Olson’s first home game and Sean Miller’s first game in McKale—but when I saw that the opponent was NAU, I got the equivalent of the journalistic yips. It can’t h…

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Trek Bicycle in Oro Valley is hosting the Thanksgiving themed food drive for those with two wheels from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday Nov. 21. The event is being put on with the support of other local businesses to benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. 

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Navine Mallon comes from an athletic family. Her older sister, Karena Garcia, was a multi-sport athlete at Flowing Wells. Garcia just graduated from Smith College, where she had competed in cross country and basketball for four years. Navine (pronounced Nuh-veen) also has a brother, Talon Fi…

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The casual observer would have declared last Saturday’s Arizona-Cal football game to be uglier than Steve Buscemi’s Less-Attractive Brother. But to the members of the Wildcat football program and all of their die-hard fans, it was a work of art. It was the Mona Lisa sitting near Monet’s Wate…

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So, for a high-school athlete, what could be greater than winning back-to-back state championships in the sport that you love and at which you excel? The answer is going back-to-back-to-back and grabbing a third consecutive state crown. And, to sprinkle a little extra Awesome Dust all over t…

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You know how we all tend to think of professional golfers as pampered little babies? They have the best equipment and the top caddies and they stay in the best hotels and, occasionally, they make a nice shot. But the rest of the time, they complain. 

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There is a moment in every defensive back’s career, one that brings forward a mix of deep clarity and sheer terror. The other team’s star running back is carrying the ball. He’s running laterally, seeking to reach the edge of all the turmoil involving the two teams’ linemen. If he reaches th…

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All great coaches will, from time to time, speak in clichés. They know what works and they want to share it with their players in a manner that is most succinct. It’s something they’ve been doing for years—or even decades—so, until someone invents a new language, they’re probably going to us…

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Phillip Steward is chiseled out of stone and is all the more imposing with the polo shirt that he apparently has painted on before each game. The Marana football coach patrols the sidelines from start to finish of the game—exhorting, cheering, teaching—as his surprising Tigers display, week …

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Fifty-three years ago last Saturday, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos got up on the medal stand at the Mexico City Olympics and did the Black Power salute. It’s legendary now, but back then, it was infamous. Brent Musberger, who would later become a famous announcer for CBS Sp…

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Allison Birtcil has the weight of legacy on her shoulders. She and fellow senior, Isabella Lang, both have older sisters who were part of the powerful 2018 Ironwood Ridge High volleyball team that was perhaps the best in Southern Arizona. As often happens with outstanding athletic programs, …

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Sam Hala’ufia is a big guy. His dad was born in Tonga, which is an entire island nation of big guys. Oddly enough, his name is pronounced just like it’s spelled. The first half is Holla (like Gwen Stefani sings in “…Back, Girl.”) Then, it’s ooh-fee-uh. The Mountain View High senior has used …

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When I was growing up in The Projects in Southern California, living in the other apartment of our duplex was my friend, Bobby Chacon. He and I played multiple sports together, but when he got out of high school, he became a professional boxer. He was also going to college at the time, so th…

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Among Hanna Hartzell’s duties as a team manager for the undefeated Marana Tigers football team are: Clean the uniforms, get water for the players, supervise pre-game meals, supervise post-game meals, serve as a timer during practice, set up equipment needed for drills, and a bunch of other s…

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OK, so the University of Arizona football team is 0-4 and possibly heading for its second straight winless season (that’s actually hard to do). Wildcat basketball is on the horizon, but they have a new, untested coach, some serious NCAA punishment headed its way, and a lineup  consisting of …

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Ryan Torres can’t believe how quickly it is going. The Flowing Wells senior has only a couple weeks left in his prep career. This weekend will be the Southern Arizona Invitational at Dell Urich and then next weekend is the Flowing Wells Boys Invitational and then that’s that. (Other fall spo…

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It has been a long, strange journey for Amphi junior Boe Reh (pronounced Bo Ray), but it’s going quite well right now and should be even greater in years to come. Boe and his family are Karenni, an ethnic group from Burma (now Myanmar) that was the subject of attempted genocide. Many Karenni…

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Igot an email from a dad of a girl I coached in basketball a few years back. I have to say that he came close to being the perfect sports parent. He would show up to the games, root for his daughter and her teammates, not say anything to or about the refs, and never forget that no matter how…

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I grew up in Southern California in the late '60s and early '70s. I’ve always considered myself having grown up in poverty, thus learning to appreciate what’s really important in life, and to have attended schools with a very high percentage of minority students, allowing me to grow up witho…

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For high-school senior athletes, the spring of 2020 was the absolute worst of times. Seasons abruptly canceled, dreams crushed, a permanent cloud of what-might-have-been hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives. They certainly got the worst of it, but for those who followed behin…

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Earlier this year, as long-empty sports stadiums finally started letting fans back in, Mexico was forced to go in the other direction. The national soccer team is known as El Tri (the tricolor of red, white…and green, as Martin Lawrence said in “Blue Streak”). Well, it seems that the many fo…

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Because I am cursed with a pretty-good understanding of mathematics, I don’t gamble. I almost never have. I’ll bet on myself to make a free throw or win a tennis match, but gambling in a casino is a sucker’s bet. (Next time you feel like placing a bet in a huge, lavish casino, stop and try t…