Tag Archives: baseball

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.

MLB Pitch, Hit & Run Contest this weekend

2010 PHR finalists. Photo courtesy of Major League Baseball.

Paladin Sports Outreach will  host the Aquafina Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run local competition this Saturday, April 9.

The free skills competition is open to boys and girls ages 7 to 14. The top competitors have a chance to advance to compete in the PHR National Finals, which will take place at the 2011 MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix.

The competition will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at JO Combs Traditional Academy, 37327 N. Gantzel Rd. in San Tan Valley.

All participants must bring a copy of their birth certificate and fill out a registration/waiver form, in-person, prior to participating in the competition.

Girls and boys will compete and be awarded in separate divisions. Girls compete in a softball division and boys will compete in a baseball division. Any method of underhand/overhand pitching or throwing is allowed.

Your child’s age as of July 17th of this year determines his or her age in this year’s competition.

Paladin Sports Outreach is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, established to bring sports and recreation programs to undeserved communities in the San Tan Area and beyond.

For more information call 480-285-9459 or email info@paladinsports.org.

Xavier sophomore is named Gatorade Arizona Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year

Sarah "takes off for the lead and doesn't look back."

Xavier College Preparatory sophomore Sarah Fakler has been named the 2010-11 Gatorade Arizona Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. The award, made possible by Gatorade in partnership with ESPN RISE Magazine, distinguishes Sarah as Arizona’s best high school girls cross country runner.

“She is an exceptionally talented athlete, but also dedicated to academics and serving her community,” says Sister Lynn Winsor, BVM, CMAA, Xavier’s vice principal for activities and athletics.

In addition to her cross country achievements, Sarah has maintained a 4.0 GPA, is an active member in her church community and has participated in the Xavier Xero Club, promoting environmental sustainability.

Sarah led the Xavier Gators to the team title in the Class 5A Division 1 state championship this past season with a time of 18:26.97. She captured individual titles at the Desert Twilight Cross Country Festival, the Sole Sports Running Zone Cross Country Festival and the George Young Invitational. She finished third at the Nike Cross Nationals Southwest Regional Championships with a time of 17:49:39.

Sarah with her award.

“Sarah gets in this hypnotic state when the gun goes off. Basically, she takes off for the lead and doesn’t look back,” says Xavier Head Coach Dave Van Sickle. “Usually, she comes home with the win.”

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field. RISE partners with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Ann Meyers Drysdale to receive YWCA honor

Phoenix Mercury President and General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale has been named the YWCA’s Sports Leader of the Year. The honor will be presented at the 18th Annual Tribute to Women luncheon tomorrow at the Arizona Biltmore.

Meyers Drysdale and two of her three children, DJ and Drew, appeared in a July 2009 cover story by multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint, who also recorded a podcast from her interview. Publisher & Editor Karen Barr wrote about the cover shoot, which took place in the Mercury locker room, in her blog, Behind the ‘Zine.

And thanks to help from audio/video production colleague Rob Turchick of yipDog Studios, we also posted a video featuring part of the interview.

Meyers Drysdale is entering her fifth season with the two-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury (2009, 2007). Enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. as a player in 1993, Meyers Drysdale’s basketball resume spans over four decades beginning with becoming the first high school player ever to make a United States National Team in 1974.

As an amateur, Meyers Drysdale was the first woman to receive a full athletic scholarship from UCLA. The Bruins basketball legend was a four-time Kodak All-American, the first male or female to achieve that honor, and was the first female to be named to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

In 1976, she represented the United States in the Olympics, where she earned a silver medal as part of the first women’s US Olympic Basketball team.

Meyers Drysdale remains the only female ever to sign a free-agent contract with an NBA team when she signed with the Indiana Pacers in 1979. After being released by the Pacers, she provided color commentary for Pacers broadcasts and was the first woman to broadcast an NBA game.

In addition to her career on the court, Meyers Drysdale has established herself as an expert analyst on ESPN, NBC, ABC, FOX Sports and CBS and has done commentary for men’s and women’s basketball, softball, tennis, volleyball and baseball since 1979.

Meyers Drysdale, along with 10 other honorees, will be recognized at the event for accomplishments in their respective careers. For a full list of the honorees, visit ywcaaz.org.

Gatorade guys

We recently received news from two Valley school districts about athletes who were named Gatorade Arizona Players of the Year.

George Malki of Pinnacle High School in Phoenix has been named the Gatorade Arizona Boys Soccer Player of the Year, and is the second Pinnacle student to receive the honor. Taylor Kaczmarek, pitcher for the varsity baseball team at Desert Ridge High School in Mesa, was named Gatorade Arizona Baseball Player of the Year.

The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.

George Maliki.

Malki, a 5-foot-11, 155-pound senior midfielder and forward led the Pioneers to the Class 5A-Division II state championship this past season, recording 22 goals and 26 assists. A 2009 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Youth All-American selection for the club season, Malki is a 2010 First Team All-State selection for Pinnacle. The nation’s No. 32 recruit in the Class of 2010 as rated by TopDrawerSoccer.com, Malki spent his junior season traveling as a member of the United State’s under-17 national soccer team. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on scholarship this fall at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

At Pinnacle, Malki has maintained a 3.90 GPA in the classroom. A peer tutor, he has volunteered locally as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit brain tumor research and as a youth soccer coach. His coach is Brock Heykoop.

Taylor Kaczmarek.

Kaczmarek had already been recognized as the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year and East Valley Region Player of the Year. He graduated with a 3.519 GPA, completing engineering courses in the Project Lead the Way program. He also volunteers as a youth baseball instructor.

“This is the second consecutive year Desert Ridge High School has won this state award,” Kaczmarek said. “Last year it was Jake Barrett, who was the Gatorade Player of the Year for baseball.”

He has received a full-ride scholarship to South Mountain Community College and a “a few offers” from Division 1 schools, ” but I haven’t signed yet.” He plans to major in mechanical engineering. — Dan Barr