Tag Archives: Arizona

National skateboard competition is open to local skaters

Valley skaters still have a few more days to register for one of the nation’s largest and most respected amateur skateboarding competitions.

The sixth and final qualifying event for the 10th annual King of the Groms, a 12 and under skateboard contest series, and King of the Ams for ages 13 to 16, will be held at Kids That Rip! Skateboard School (KTR) in east Mesa Feb. 16-19.

An intermediate class at Kids That Rip! Skateboard School. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

The series consists of six qualifying events held throughout the country, followed by one championship event. This year’s champions will be crowned June 14-17 at the 3rd Lair SkatePark in Golden Valley, Minn. While KTR has sent several students to the national competition in past years, this is the first time the Valley skateboarding school has played host to a qualifying event.

“We want to get every young skateboarder in Arizona to participate in King of the Groms, whether they’re new to the sport or they’ve been in the industry forever,” says Geoff Eaton, KTR owner. “The organizers do an awesome job of making sure each kid feels really good about themselves. It’s a great experience and a great family-friendly event.”

As many as 100 skaters are anticipated to participate in the February contest – among them will be all three of Eaton’s sons. Jagger, 10, will participate in his second King of the Groms qualifying event this season, while Koston, 3, will make his skateboarding debut. Thirteen-year-old Jett will participate in King of the Ams, a new contest division open to 13- to16-year-old “expert” skaters.

The King of the Groms competition includes three divisions – beginner, intermediate and expert – in three separate events: street, mini-ramp and bowl. Finalists from the KTR qualifying event will advance to the national championship in June.

Participants can also compete for chances to win prizes, such as “Best Skate Face,” “Best Cheering Section,” and “Queen of the Groms.” Register online ($75 for one event, plus $10 for each additional event) at kingofthegroms.net.

Spectators are encouraged to cheer on participants throughout the weekend. The event will also include vendors, food and KTR’s weekly open skate sessions (regular fees apply). For complete hours and an event schedule, visit kidsthatrip.com.

KTR is located in the Desert Devils Gymnastics studio on the corner of Gilbert and McKellips Roads. Here are a couple more shots our photographer, Daniel Friedman, took during a recent visit.

Schmitt gives instruction to his intermediate class at Kids That Rip!

Jeff Jewitt catches Cam Sedlick, 11, of Mesa, who is in the advanced class and is trying to perfect a trick called a Blunt.


Club team promotes horseback riding and competiton

Photo courtesy of Crossroad Farm.

Crossroads Farm is currently accepting students in grades 6-12 (including those who are homeschooled) to join the Crossroads Farm East Valley IEA Team.

The full-service hunter/jumper and equitation barn in Gilbert has partnered with the Interscholastic Equestrian Association to bring the sport of horseback riding to students in middle and secondary schools and to promote and improve the quality of competition and instruction in the East Valley.

The cost to ride on the team is approximately $280, which covers the eight-week semester riding lessons. Show and travel fees are additional.

The Crossroads Farm IEA Team will participate in a minimum of three shows per semester. Shows are one-day, weekend events. All regular season shows are in Arizona at this time, with teams currently in the North, West and East Valley.

“This program is meant to give non-horse owners, and those unfamiliar but interested in horses and hunt seat riding, a chance to gain knowledge and compete in school-associated equestrian programs, while offering regional and national championships to qualified teams and individuals,” says Rachel Jansen Jones, owner and head trainer of Crossroads Farm. “No horse or prior riding experience is needed.”

The IEA horse shows will include classes ranging in skill level from walk/trot for beginner riders up to 3-foot equitation-type courses for the varsity riders. Teams need to be in place by Nov. 1.

Learn more

Crossroad Farm
460 E. Ray Road, Gilbert
480-812-8924 • crossroadsfarm.com

Interscholastic Equestrian Association

Youth sports leaders to be recognized next week

Thirty-six youth athletes, coaches and youth sports contributors will be recognized for their dedication to positive leadership and outstanding character during the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission’s Youth Sports Awards Banquet next Saturday.

Winners of the Youth Sports of the Year Awards will be announced at the event, which will take place at 8 a.m. at Grand Canyon University’s new arena, 3300 W. Camelback Rd. in Phoenix. Register for the event here.

The nominees represent all levels of play from various youth sports offered around the Valley:

Jerod Aker (left), head baseball coach for Apollo High School.


Rob Gorrell – Coach and co-founder of Sandlot All-Stars Baseball.

Pat Murphy – Coach and co-founder of Sandlot All-Stars Baseball, All Nine Baseball Academy.

Patty Egan – Coaches cross country, girls soccer and track at Cactus Shadows High School.

Steve Bomar – Youth girls basketball coach and founder of the Gilbert Genies Basketball Club.

Eric KiblerHorizon High School baseball coach for more than 28 years and three-time recipient of the Arizona Coach of the Year award. In 2005 he received the ABCA High School National Coach of the Year.

Harry Demos CCV STARS sports pastor and director of coaching for boys soccer.

James Smith – Head track and field coach at Westwood High School, head coach and president for the AZ Flames Track Club, USATF Masters Chair.

Melissa Belote Ripley – Has been coaching club swimming for more than 30 years and currently coaches at McClintock High School and Rio Salado Swim Club.

Jordan Demos – Youth Soccer Coach for the CCV Stars Soccer Club.

Jake Peterson – Coaches middle school and high school football/basketball for Rancho Solano Private Schools.

Jaime Pagliarulo – Girls soccer coach for Hamilton High School, San Tan Soccer Club and Arizona Youth Soccer Association.

Steve LewisEmpowerment Through Sports (ETS) Youth Football League coach.

Dameon BlairBoulder Creek High School junior varsity basketball coach.

Jim Ewan – Football coach for Chandler High School since 2001.

Jerod Aker – Baseball coach for Apollo High School; he has been the head coach of a baseball team for a total of 15 years.

Joshua Braun (left) plays basketball at Boulder Creek High School.


Joshua Brown – Plays basketball at Boulder Creek High School, where he is a member of the National Honor Society and ranked 12th in his class.

Hannah Carson –  Track and field, Chandler High School. She’s ranked #1 in the nation for javelin and has qualified for the 2012 Olympics. She will be attending Texas Tech University on scholarship.

Zach Wright – Golf, Pinnacle High School, committed to Louisiana State University. He is currently ranked #12 Boy in the National Polo Rankings

Brandon Senior – Track and Field, honors student at Notre Dame Preparatory High School and member of the AZ Flames Track Club.

Nathan Ponwith – Tennis, Arizona Virtual Academy, participates in the United States Tennis Association.

Tyler Pugh – Football, basketball and baseball; attends Rancho Solano Private School.

Kyung Kim – Golf, Chandler Hamilton High School, currently plans on attending University of Southern California.

Molly Johnson – Baton twirling, Thunderbird High School, member of Phoenix Superstars Twirl Team, plans to attend Fort Hayes University in Kansas.

Dylan Hambright– Track, Arcadia High School, member of the Arizona Elite Track Club.

Shannon Gurley – Volleyball, attends middle school at Rancho Solano Private Schools, also participates in soccer and drama at school.

Wendy Riddell (S.T.A.R. Pony Club, ASU UC Soccer).


Jeffrey Kratzke – Volunteer coach for cross country and track at Cactus Shadows High School.

Hugh Smith-  Executive director of The First Tee of Phoenix, a non-profit organization that provides educational programs, values and healthy choices for Valley youth through the game of golf.

Lisa Sanchez – President of Holiday Park Little League, a volunteer position for an inner city youth baseball league.

Bob Capron – Oversees the Metro Phoenix United States Tennis Association. Inducted into both the USTA Phoenix Hall of Fame and USTA Southwest Hall of Fame in 2005.

John Canter – Started a community weightlifting and training program where 60 local kids are now involved and active.

Wendy Riddell – Youth equestrian coach and S.T.A.R. Pony Club board member, age group coordinator for ASUSC Soccer.

Erik Widmark – Executive director for the Grand Canyon State Games, the largest amateur sports festival of its kind in the country, since 1995.

Chad Robinson – Started the Prime Time Athletics flag football program, the official league of the NFL Flag program.

Peyton Sullivan – Youth Umpire for Deer Valley Little League, certified as a district umpire.

Scott Smith – Volunteer umpire-in-chief for Deer Valley Little League.

The Phoenix Regional Sports Commission was created to “enrich the community through sports.” The 501(c)3 non-profit focuses on three areas: bringing national and international sporting events to the state, assisting in the promotion of existing events and teams and supporting youth sports programs. Learn more.

A chance to play wiffle ball with the pros

Reggie Sanders photo from Wikipedia.Baseball fans young and old are invited to join Reggie Sanders and some of his professional ballplayer friends for a morning of baseball fun with the pros at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.

This free family event offers opportunities to meet players and collect autographs. Baseball-themed activities are planned for fans young and old.

A Big League Wiffle Ball Charity Tournament will be held benefitting the Reggis Sanders Foundation, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association

The event runs from 8am to 1pm on Saturday, July 9. The Wiffle Ball Tournament starts at 9am and baseball mini-clinics run 9:30-10:30am.

The Big League Wiffle Ball Tournament is a chance for players 18 and up to play wiffle ball alongside professional ballplayers and athletes in a non-competitive charity tournament. Pee-Wee Wiffle ball is available to ages 6 and younger.

Cost to participate in the tournament is $150 per player. Register by calling John Zackery, special events coordinator for the Reggie Sanders Foundation at 602-421-3479.

Salt River Fields, the Arizona Diamondbacks Spring Training Stadium, is located at 7555 N Pima Rd in Scottsdale.

Gilbert Youth Football League accepting fall registration

Gilbert Youth Football League will host registration for tackle and flag football from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 9, at Peter Piper Pizza (Gilbert & Williams Field roads). No experience is necessary.

GYFL offers programs in football and cheer beginning at age 5.

This photo is from the league’s newly designed website, which is updated regularly to include information about the league and players as well as coach and player development and links to sports-related news.

The mission of the GYFL is to provide a positive and enjoyable learning experience while teaching sportsmanship, fair play, integrity, honor, respect, loyalty, personal courage and dedication through football and cheer. The league serves families in the East Valley cities, including Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Queen Creek and Apache Junction.

Additional in-person registration registration events will be held:

July 16, 10am-2pm – Dicks Sporting Goods, San Tan Mall

July 23, 10am-2pm – Peter Piper Pizza, Gilbert/Williamsfield

July 30, 10am-2pm – Dicks Sporting Goods, San Tan Mall (this is the final tackle registration)

Aug. 6, 10am-2pm – Peter Piper Pizza, Gilbert/Williamsfield (this is a flag only registration)

Aug. 13, 10am-2pm – Peter Piper Pizza, Gilbert/Williamsfield (this is a flag only registration)

Find additional registration information.

Tempe 9-year-old wins six Taekwondo championships

No schoolyard bully better make the mistake of trying to take this kid’s lunch money. Christian Erhardt of Tempe has earned six Arizona Taekwondo state championships out of seven events. Now a Black belt, he plans to continue on to compete for a world championship title at the Black Belt level at the World Championshps in Little Rock, Ark. Extremely impressive, and even more so given his age—just 9 years old.

Erhardt first began to practice Taekwondo when he was 6, and has excelled in the three years since. It has taken no small amount of dedication or hard work, but the young athlete has embraced the challenge.

“Christian began this quest with a goal of becoming state champ,” Christian’s father, Troy Erhardt, said. “He has trained six days a week and missed out on a lot of ‘kid stuff’ like birthday parties and sleepovers. He’s always chosen to make the sacrifice to say on track with his goal. He has stayed focused and never wanted to quit or give up.”

Out of the seven events, Erhardt took first in six: Traditional Forms, Traditional Weapons, XMA (extreme) Forms, XMA Weapons, Creative Forms and Creative Weapons. In the seventh, sparring, he made it to the finals but took second place.

Christian trains at Black Belt Academy and Karate for Kids, located in Goodyear, under chief instructor Sr. Master Mark Lee. “Consistency in his training and the support of his parents and instructors has really helped Christian achieve success,” Lee said. “He is very dedicated to the martial arts and it shows in his enthusiasm and passion.” — Robert T. Balint

Erhardt, just 9 years old, recently earned his Black Belt in Taekwondo, along with six state championships. Photo by Tammy Vogt Photography.

Grant Hill announced as spokesman for the arts

Grant Hill has an eye on the future. “In my world, competition is fierce on and off the court,” the Phoenix Suns forward says in a new public service announcement. “It’s more important than ever to prepare the next generation to face challenges head on.”

Hill believes exposure to the arts is significant to that preparation. That’s why he signed on to be campaign spokesperson for The Choice is Art, a four-year statewide campaign by the Arizona Commission on the Arts to promote access to arts education.

In his first PSA for the program, Hill describes the positive effects that the arts bring: “The arts teach skills like discipline, dedication and teamwork. And for kids struggling with academic, social or family challenges, the arts can change lives.”

Hill is no stranger to the arts; he and his wife, Grammy-nominated singer Tamia Hill have been longtime patrons. In fact, their 46-pierce collection of African-American art went on tour as the Something All Our Own: The Grant Hill Collection of African American Art exhibition from 2003-2006. The collection featured several major works from acclaimed artists Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Hughie Lee Smith and John Biggers.

“From a young age, my father instilled in me a respect for well-crafted and historically significant artifacts and works of art,” Hill writes in a letter of support for the campaign. “He took me to museums and taught me to appreciate the energetic vision of artists, especially African-American artists. This family tradition of collecting is another reason I continue to acquire impactful works of art. Now, as a father myself, I recognize the value of passing this appreciation on to my two children. They have a natural affinity for creative works, and it is inspiring to see them make their own artistic discoveries.”

A veteran of the NBA, Hill graduated from Duke University in 1994 and became one of the best all-around players in the league at that time, sharing Rookie of the Year Award honors with Jason Kidd. After being plagued with injuries throughout the prime of his career, Hill came to Phoenix in 2007 and joined Steve Nash as a team captain. He won his first career playoff series victory in 2010, when the Suns swept the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals, and averaged 13.2 points per game in the 2010-11 season. — Robert T. Balint

Listen to RAK’s 2008 interview with Grant Hill.

RAK Archives
Read about Hill’s experiences juggling minutes on the court and quality time with his two little girls, Myla and Lael.

Hill also promotes healthy, active lifestyles for kids. In January, we wrote about his involvement with the Kids Sports Stars healthy lifestyle challenge.

Grant Hill’s thoughts on fatherhood, from a Father’s Day interview in 2008.