Cross Country Falcons aiming to repeat 2007 State success

By Pete Mohr | August 27, 2008

CSHS – Readers know that Patty Egan is my most admired of all Cactus Shadows coaches. Thus, I was pleased to catch up with her (and Boys Cross Country Head Coach Cara Van Eck) after practice, Monday, Aug. 25.

xcountryBoth Coaches Egan and Van Eck were quick to express satisfaction with their respective “numbers” (athletes running Cross Country this season). Then, without comment, they added “in spite of the higher fees.” Apparently living under a rock this summer, this writer asked, “What higher fees?” Not wanting to embarrass me, they quietly let me know that “Student Activity Fees” have doubled for this school year from $150 per sport/activity to $300! If that outrage, courtesy of the financially top-heavy “Educrats,” doesn’t incense every parent within CCUSD, I’m at a loss to know what will. Back to Cross Country.

Coaches Egan and Van Eck concurred in their identification of Saguaro (Girls) and Shadow Mountain (Boys) as the Falcons toughest competition in Desert Sky. Can the harriers equal or better their 4th (Girls) and 8th (Boys) places come November’s State Championships? Coach Egan was somewhere between “kind” and “charitable” in her to-the-point answer: “Pete, you know it’s too early to tell.”

Right, Coach. Best wishes to you, Coach Van Eck, Assistants Geoff Johnson and Jeff Kratzke and your runners for yet another successful season – a Cactus Shadows tradition.

Photo caption: LEADING ‘08 CROSS COUNTRY: Four co-captains, Natalie Omundson, Ben Cresswell (shown), Kyle Short and Noelle Crow (not available for photo), will pace the Falcon harriers in their second season of 4A Conference - Division I competition.
Photo by Pete Mohr

Only 16 of 242 chosen: Jaclyn McFadden is a “Suns Dancer!”

By Pete Mohr | August 27, 2008

mcfaddensunsCAVE CREEK – There are very few little girls who don’t love to dance, pirouetting to their dreams of someday becoming a ballerina. Sharon McFadden remembers that’s not how her daughter (and only child) got started. “She’d been a slow-walker; so at age 2, I enrolled her in a dance studio.” Jaclyn McFadden hasn’t missed a step – or routine – since; and on Wednesday evening, Aug. 13, as she watched “The Suns Selection Show” on, Jaclyn caught her breath in excitement as her name was announced (tenth out of 16 finalists) as a member-to-be of the 2008-2009 (Phoenix) “Suns Dancers.”

On Saturday morning, Aug. 2, 242 candidates had answered the Suns’ “open call” at U.S. Airways Arena. After lunch break, the aspirants had been cut to 72. Following a Sunday interview with Director Maggie Cloud and a “photo shoot” by Suns professionals, Jaclyn became one of 32 finalists. Next, on Wednesday evening, Aug. 6, came “The Making of a Suns Dancer” on Channel 45, followed by on-line voting that would count for 25 percent of her selection scoring (75 percent to a panel of judges). For sure, a rigorous process that would end exhilaratingly one week later.

In her dance progression, McFadden, who will turn 21 on Sept. 26, had recorded some notable “firsts”; four years a Varsity dancer at Cactus Shadows, she was the first junior to be honored as a co-captain. With senior Co-Captain Sierra Briggs (CSHS ’05), the Lady Falcons, combining with Cheer, won their first Arizona Interscholastic Association “Spirit Line Championship” (tantamount to the State Championship). As senior co-captain in 2006, McFadden and junior Co-Captain Shannon Riggs led the Lady Falcons to a repeat title. Jaclyn would keep on dancin’!

She would become a “Stingette” for one season before Phoenix’s professional lacrosse team took a financial hike; and for two seasons, she danced for “The Pack” (Phoenix Coyotes), the first dance team to ever perform, wearing grooved shoes, on the ice itself. But the financially pressed Coyotes would go for defensemen over dancers, and The Pack was disbanded – almost without notice. “That bitter disappointment,” she told Sonoran News, “Only accelerated my decision to try out for the ‘Suns Dancers’.”

What is she most anticipating? “Performing at the games is going to be awesome! And I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of interesting people at our civic and corporate appearances.” Another “first”: in October the Suns and Denver Nuggets will play (in Palm Springs) the NBA’s first outdoor game.

mcfaddenMom Sharon has already started on a “Suns Dancer” scrapbook. What about Dad Brian? He’s begun limbering up for “The Dancing Daddies” halftime show! Meanwhile, Jaclyn will be hard at work in ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Communications, her professional sights set on someday hosting her own TV show.

How long will she keep dancing? “Well, you know I’ll have to earn a place on the team each year.” Then, smiling quietly but pointedly, she volunteers, “There’s a lot of dancing left in me!”

Congratulations to a most compelling – and determined – young lady.

Lower Photo: HER PROUDEST FANS! Sonoran News was privileged to photograph newly-selected “Suns Dancer” Jaclyn McFadden with her proudest fans, parents Brian & Sharon McFadden, at their Cave Creek home, Sunday morning, Aug. 24.
Photo by Pete Mohr