"Sit down, ‘Baldy’!”

By Pete Mohr | July 16, 2008

CSHS – By this point in my seven years as Sports Reporter for Sonoran News most readers have figured out that I’m a storyteller, first; and a writer, second. I suppose the two are interchangeable. I enjoy, equally, telling stories and listening to those told by others. Stories can often tell you a lot about a person: who they are, where they’ve been, and what’s important to them. Thus it is my pleasure (with a trace of amusement) to introduce newly-appointed CSHS Athletic Director Roger Hill by telling a true story from the November 10, 2007 4A Conference State Volleyball Championships at Gilbert’s Perry High School.

The Lady Falcons, clearly having peaked in their semifinals come-from-behind upset the #1-seeded Cactus were not faring very well against the Chaparral Lady Firebirds, who were raucously backed by their school’s “Birdcage,” whom I counted at pretty close to 100 (including their Falcon-hating Notre Dame “recruits”). When the outcome was no longer in doubt, the Chappie smart-alecks (I give ‘em credit for showing up) turned their attention to a tall, close-to-imposing male among the sparse Cactus Shadows Faithful. This gentlemen, with a well-receded hairline, would’ve been hard to miss; and indeed, the Chappies soon began to taunt, “Sit down, ‘Baldy’! Sit down, ‘Baldy’!” CSHS Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction never flinched.
“Taunting” is not compatible with the AIA’s guiding principle for high school athletics, “Pursuing Victory with Honor.” Had a Chaparral administrator been present, I’m confident that the Chappie smart A’s would’ve been appropriately silenced; but unrestrained, they took up their derision again, “Sit down, ‘Baldy’! Sit down, ‘Baldy’!” Not even the hint of a reaction from Hill. I thereupon registered Hill as a man of good humor (about himself) and admirable self-restraint. Both qualities will serve him well as Athletic Director.

Hill, 40, is a Tucson native and a 1983 University of Arizona graduate, where he completed his teaching requirements. His entire professional career has been in education. Immediately prior to accepting his assistant principalship at Cactus Shadows in August 2006, Hill had served as principal of Mt. Elden Middle School in Flagstaff.
“I feel fortunate to become athletic director of Cactus Shadows sports programs, solidly built and led by Sid and Monica,” Hill said referring to former CSHS Principal Sid Bailey and Monica Barrett, outgoing “A.D.” Hill is winding up his Curriculum and Instruction responsibilities, to which Barrett is returning. Thank you, Monica, for two school years of never-failing energy and enthusiasm. As an “A.D.” should be, you were the #1 Falcons fan!

Hill met his wife, Kim, a native Californian, at the U of A. They’ve been married 15 years and parent three boys and a girl ages 5-13.

“Good luck, ‘Baldy’!” and keep those Falcons flyin’!

Photo caption: (EX)CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Assistant Principal Monica Barrett (Desert Sky Region 2007-2008 “Athletic Director of the Year”) welcomes, as newly-appointed “A.D.,” Assistant Principal Roger Hill. Barrett and Hill are exchanging positions, with Barrett returning to her previous assignment, Assistant Principal – Curriculum & Instruction. Sonoran News opines that Cactus Shadows is fortunate to have both.
Photo by Pete Mohr

Girls Golf, Cheer/Dance, CC, V’Ball, Soccer(s), Lady Hoops, Baseball sparked 4A-I debut

By Pete Mohr | July 16, 2008

CSHS – “They (the Football Falcons) should never have moved up!,” pronounced Higley Football Coach Jim Beall before his Knights were agonized by the ‘Birds, 7-6, at Higley’s house in the 2007 season opener for both teams. What Coach Beall (and confused Falcon fans) didn’t recognize was that by the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s line of demarcation between 4A Conference - Division I and 4A Conference - Division II, Cactus Shadows Administration had no choice: that is, for the two-year scheduling block commencing with the 2007-2008 school year, the Falcons were “movin’ on up” – and into Division I’s toughest Region, Desert Sky.

Creeker Chuck Schmidt, the A.I.A.’s assistant executive director, humorously put it more succinctly, “Pete, it’s all about ‘butts in the seats’ as of October 1, 2006.” Halfway through the Football Falcons magical 15-0 Division II Championship season, the ‘Birds were already destined to “run with the Big Dogs” (translate Chaparral and Saguaro). McClintock stayed put; Paradise Valley and Shadow Mountain moved down from 5A-Division II; and the Apache Junction Prospectors joined Cactus Shadows in moving up. With a 2008-2009 projected enrollment of 1,780, recently-reassigned Assistant Principal Monica Barrett (D-Sky’s “Athletic Director of the Year” for ’07-’08) told Sonoran News, Monday afternoon, July 7, that she “seriously doubts” CSHS will be moving back down to Division II, when the October 1, 2008 enrollment counts are submitted to AIA. So, Falcon fans, 4A-I is here to stay – at least for the next three school/athletic years.

After the move-up to Division I was officially announced, the first Falcon coach I encountered was Cross Country and Track Head Coach Patty Egan, she, the “Dean of CSHS Coaches” by more than a few years. Coach Egan, in typically-understated but to-the-point evaluation: “You’re only as good as your competition.” How “good,” then were the Falcons in their 4A-I debut? Consider, readers, by season:

Fall – First to be congratulated (again) are Head Girls Golf Coach Mike Sarraino’s Lady Falcons. Led by State Medalist Lauren Weaver and five varsity-sport freshman Beau Bremer, the Lady Falcons brought home the first 4A-I State Championship (and the team’s third in five years). Coach Egan’s Harriers earned their highest finishes ever at State: Girls, 4th; and Boys, 8th. Under the steadying hand of first-year Head Coach Tom Gardner, Volleyball notched an impressive 30-10 record, highlighted by their upset at State of #1-seeded Cactus before falling in the Finals to Chaparral.
And what about Falcon Football, the most visible of all sports? Tripped up by unrealistic expectations and devastating injuries to key players that plagued the ‘Birds from pre-season through the Chaparral finale, the Falcs had to eat a disappointing 3-7. They’ll be back. Count on it.

Winter - Rika Cuff (Cheer) and Melissa Veluz (Dance) coached their respective squads to their third consecutive A.I.A. “Spirit Line” Championship – ‘Way-ta-go, Ladies! Lady Falcons Basketball, mentored by Head Coach Ryan Pletnick and Assistant Coach Stacie Fitzgerald, reached the Final Four at Jobing.com Arena for the fourth consecutive season (their first two appearances under the leadership of former Head Coach Bill Dolezal, now Assistant Principal at Desert Arroyo Middle School) before running out of gas against Marana in the Semis.
Soccer (Boys and Girls) “doubled” as Region Champions (beating the hated Chappies at Chaparral!) but were disappointed by early exits at State. Mackenzie Wadas and Matthew Moorer were D-Sky “Players of the Year,” with Boys Coach Mat Evans similarly honored.

Spring - Led by Co-Captains Chris Manship and Jake Goulder, Head Coach Tom Scala’s squad went 20-10, earning the Baseball ‘Birds their sixth consecutive State Tournament berth. Coach Scala was named Desert Sky “Coach of the Year.”

Congratulations to all 2007-2008 Falcon athletes. On your move-up to 4A-I, this writer awards you a well-deserved “B.”