Monthly Archives: August 2004

high schools

Cactus coach named best in U.S.

by Jason Stone

When a big box showed up on Jeff Griffith’s doorstep last Friday afternoon, the Cactus High School softball coach figured the delivery was a mistake.
After all, he did not remember ordering anything and figured the package was a mistake.
But when the longtime Cobras coach opened up the box, he realized the delivery reached its proper destination.
Griffith was named the 2004 National High School Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year, the most prestigious honor in high school coaching.
The only problem was nobody told Griffith he had even been nominated for the award, and a letter informing him of the future arrival of his award came after the award.
“The letter said ‘Soon you will be getting a really big trophy,'” Griffith said. “Actually, it’s not really a trophy or a plaque. It’s a statue. I thought it was some weird thing that I didn’t order.”
After leading Cactus to a 38-0 record and second straight state championship last spring, the NHSCA bestowed Griffith with its top honor.
“The first thing I thought of was my assistant coaches Pete Lara and Lori Helmer,” Griffith said when hearing the news. “They’re the ones that did it. They worked all those hours for no pay. They get T-shirts.
“Then, I thought about my girls. They’re the ones that got it done.”
Griffith has won Arizona and region coaching awards, but the 50-year-old veteran coach said this one takes the cake.
“I would say so,” Griffith said. “There is only one and I don’t know how they found out about me.”
Since it is an individual award, Griffith is keeping the “statue” on the piano in his living room.
“I feel like I had something to do with our success — I made the lineups, but my assistant coaches are so awesome,” Griffith said.
“Pete and I can say the same things (to the players), but when Pete says it, it motivates them. When I say it, they think I’m mad at them. And Lori is not much more older than them, so they can relate to her.”

Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 19, 2004

little league baseball

DVLL All-Stars finish exciting run

by Jason Stone

In the end, they left with a lifetime of memories.
The Deer Valley Little League All-Stars came up short on their bid to make the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., but still reached the West Regional semifinals and ended the season as Arizona champions.
“It was a great experience for everyone,” said assistant coach Hank Herrington. “It was maybe a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Deer Valley was eliminated from the regionals with two losses to the Nevada state champion — once in pool play and again in the semifinals. Had DVLL beaten Nevada in the semifinals, it would have played on ESPN2 for the championship and right to play in Williamsport, Pa.
Between the district, state and regional tournaments, the Deer Valley All-Stars went 16-5 overall.
Kyle Herrington went 11 for 14 in the regionals with three home runs and three doubles. Tyler Doolittle was 8 for 14 with seven runs scored. Tyler Cohen had six home runs in the tournament — all homers.
Additionally, Dexter Bethers went 6 for 13 and Bryce Kefflen went 5 for 9.

Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 19, 2004

Coyotes bolster roster by signing scoring great

by Jason Stone


Now, all they need is a coach.

And a season.

The busy offseason for the Phoenix Coyotes continued last week with a handful of signings, highlighted by the arrival of NHL scoring legend Brett Hull.

Hull, the third leading scorer in NHL history, signed a two-year, free-agent deal to bring the veteran right wing to Glendale.

Hull, who is behind Coyotes co-owner Wayne Gretzky and Hall of Famer Gordie Howe in NHL career scoring, agreed to the contract with the Coyotes after an 11th-hour attempt for the Dallas Stars, his last team, to re-sign him.

Hull has 741 career goals, ranking him behind Gretzky (894) and Howe (801). Hull scored 25 goals with the Stars last year.

“I’m excited to get going,” Hull said. “I hope we get to play on time.”

The start of the NHL season is in doubt because of labor strife. The league’s collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15 and it is expected owners will lock out players from training camp.

The Coyotes are also looking for a head coach. Rick Bowness has acted as the interim coach since Bobby Francis‘ firing in the spring, but Bowness has not been named permanent coach.

The team’s roster appears set, though, with the additions of Hull, Mike Ricci and Sean O’Donnell in the offseason.

“We were accused of dumping payroll and we did,” Coyotes owner Steve Ellman said about the team trading away high-priced players over the last two years. “But we did because we have a plan for the future and signing Brett Hull is part of that plan.”

The Winnipeg Jets, the Coyotes’ former incarnation, retired the No. 9 jersey of his father, Bobby, in 1989.

But the team announced it “unretired” the jersey so Brett could wear it next season.

Between Hull and Gretzky, the Glendale team will be represented by more than 1,600 regular-season goals.


Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 19, 2004

colleges

GCC boosted by return of outside hitter Boone

by Jason Stone

Tessa Boone isn’t ashamed to admit she made a mistake when she quit the Glendale Community College volleyball team after her freshman year.
“It was just stupidity,” said Boone, a sophomore outside hitter who rejoined the team this summer after a year away. “I just missed it too much.”
Boone was a key member of the 2002 team that ended up finishing third in the nation, the program’s best-ever finish. But wanting to experience the “real world,” the former Deer Valley High School star decided to give up playing and spent the last year as the freshman coach at Sandra Day O’Connor High School in North Phoenix.
When Boone got the itch to return, seventh-year GCC coach Lisa Stuck decided to give the sophomore another chance.
“I don’t think she really understood the value of school,” Stuck said. “She just felt like she needed to see what the working world was all about. It was a shame, though, because she was really starting to come into her own at the (2002) national tournament.”
Boone is one of five sophomores on the team who Stuck is counting on to help integrate a big group of freshmen.
Joining Boone back on the team are Centennial High School products Emily Thomson (outside hitter), Kim Backus (setter) and Tonya Rooth (middle blocker). Stephanie Yingling, a 6-foot middle blocker out of Shadow Mountain High School is the team’s fifth returning player.
Among the freshmen, libero Andrea Ashkie and outside hitter Johanna Begay could play big roles this season. Both players come from out of the county — Ashkie is from Pinon, Begay from Tuba City — and Stuck envisions both players seeing a lot of playing time.
Other freshmen who have joined the team include Christina Barnes (middle blocker, Goldwater), Vicki Charvat (middle blocker, Centennial), Anna Conley (libero, Moon Valley), Krysta Wierck (middle blocker, Sunrise Mountain) and Bri Wilson (setter, Shadow Mountain).
A question mark might be the health of Thomson, who has a shoulder injury but is still practicing. Thomson’s range of motion has been limited to where she can’t raise her arms over her head and an upcoming MRI will reveal whether the shoulder is torn.
GCC took a step back in victories last season after the sterling 2002 campaign, but Stuck isn’t interested in predicting how the team will do this year.
“This is a hard-working group,” Stuck said. “It’s just a matter of it all coming together. But I’m not very good at predictions, so I won’t make any.”

Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 12, 2004

little league baseball

Local Little Leaguers reach semis

by Jason Stone

Deer Valley Little League continued its impressive play at the Little League Baseball West Regional Tournament last week, advancing to the semifinals and moving two games from playing in the big tournament in Williamsport, Pa.
Deer Valley rolled to a 3-1 pool play record to finish third overall. The top four teams moved to the semifinals, which were played Tuesday night. However, results of the games were unavailable at presstime.
Deer Valley was scheduled to play Green Valley Little League out of Henderson, Nev. Green Valley was the only team to beat DVLL in pool play 4-2.
In other games, Deer Valley routed Taylorsville (Utah) 11-1, Gillette (Wyo.) 33-1 and Visalia National (Calif.) 6-0.
If Deer Valley reaches the championship game, ESPN2 will televise the game nationally tonight at 5 p.m. Two years ago, the West Valley’s Arrowhead Little League reached the West Region championship game and played on ESPN before losing in the final inning.
The Little League World Series begins Aug. 20.
Deer Valley had a good shot at making the big tournament thanks to hot hitting and solid pitching.
In the 32-run rout of the Wyoming team, Tyler Cohen hit homers in four straight at-bats, including two grand slams.
Cohen also hit a homer in the shutout of the Northern California team and Tyler Doolittle went 3-for-3.

Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 12, 2004