He’s not 6-0 but Cardinals are: Quarterback Kyler Murray silences critics about stature

  • Slug: Sports-Cardinals Murray, 744 words
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By Dylan Wilhelm
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – With another dominant victory Sunday, the Cardinals moved to 6-0 for the first time since 1974, beat the Cleveland Browns and laid to rest any lingering questions about quarterback Kyler Murray’s ability to come up big in the NFL.

There never was a question about Murray’s dynamic talent after he won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma and the Cardinals made him the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The only question was whether Murray, at 5 feet, 10 ⅛ inches, could translate that talent to the NFL level. Continue reading “He’s not 6-0 but Cardinals are: Quarterback Kyler Murray silences critics about stature”

Digital media company PHNX Sports brings fans-first approach to Arizona

 

  • Slug: Sports-PHNX Sports, 1070 words
  • 3 photos available

By Isabella Duran
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – More than a month ago, sports fans in Phoenix and around Arizona were introduced to a new digital media outlet that provides coverage of the Valley’s major pro sports teams, Arizona State and Arizona and sports betting.

However, unlike other media outlets, PHNX Sports is aimed at building a community of fans and engaging them through social media and the outlet’s subscription-based website, gophnx.com, which includes a digital “lounge” where fans can gather to discuss Arizona sports topics.

It’s a unique, fans-first approach. Continue reading “Digital media company PHNX Sports brings fans-first approach to Arizona”

It’s go(-kart) time: Phoenix Kart Racing Association bonds friends, prepares pros

  • Slug: Sports-KART Racing, 640 words
  • 3 photos available

By Nick Zeller-Singh
Cronkite News

GLENDALE – On any given day, high-end motorhomes sit in the parking lot next to rusted pickup trucks. Parents tugging the hands of eager kids mesh with seasoned drivers looking to hone their craft.

That’s the appeal of the sprawling asphalt track facility that is home to the Phoenix Kart Racing Association. It’s both an ideal entry-level spot for the next NASCAR driver in Arizona and a nonprofit club for those interested in racing go-karts in a friendly atmosphere.

“It’s extremely polite and family-oriented,” said Brad Jacks, a PKRA executive board member. “My oldest daughter was in competitive gymnastics, which is super cutthroat. But when we came to PKRA, it was a welcome change.” Continue reading “It’s go(-kart) time: Phoenix Kart Racing Association bonds friends, prepares pros”

ASU triathlon team’s first recruit from Mexico ready to pave way for future Latin Americans

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Mexico Triathlete, 1,061 words.
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By Ian Garcia
Cronkite News

TEMPE – The Arizona State triathlon program has had its fair share of international recruits.

Since the program’s inaugural season in 2016, the four-time national champion team has brought on athletes from Canada, South Africa, Israel and Germany.

Now, the program has kicked off its 2021-22 season with its first Latin American member. Continue reading “ASU triathlon team’s first recruit from Mexico ready to pave way for future Latin Americans”

A call to preserve Navajo language leads two sports broadcasters on historic path

  • Slug: Sports-Navajo Nation Radio, 1628 words.
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By Hannah Bronkema
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – There is no literal translation of the word “touchdown” in Diné, but that hardly mattered.

History was made in the “Land of Enchantment” in September as two men from the Navajo Nation broadcast a college football game in their native language. Known as the “Rio Grande Rivalry,” the Division I game between the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University marked a pivotal juncture with the sport and the way it is called over the radio.

While Cuyler Frank and Glenn King reveled in their historic moment, the road following the momentous occasion matters the most to the Navajo Nation duo, with a desire to preserve their native language at the epicenter of what they do. Continue reading “A call to preserve Navajo language leads two sports broadcasters on historic path”

Former Centennial baseball player Colin Nelson transitions to coaching after leukemia diagnosis

  • Slug: Sports-Centennial Nelson Leukemia, 891 words.
  • 2 photos available.

By Randee Romero
Cronkite News

PEORIA – The words “Colin Strong” are ubiquitous around the Centennial High School campus. They can be seen on orange rubber bracelets and T-shirts, they are showcased on the electronic welcome board in front of the school and posted as the mantra of a Facebook page dedicated to Colin Nelson, the embodiment of the word strong.

Diagnosed with leukemia in June 2020, when he was 17 and a pitcher at Centennial, Nelson has been undergoing treatment for over 15 months and still has another year left. Despite the pain and uncertainty of what lies ahead, it has not affected his love of baseball. This spring Nelson will be part of the staff that has unwaveringly supported him – this time as a coach of the Coyotes.

“You don’t expect a 17-year-old kid out of the blue to be diagnosed with leukemia and it hit us all really hard,” said Jeff Gahan, Centennial’s assistant baseball coach. Continue reading “Former Centennial baseball player Colin Nelson transitions to coaching after leukemia diagnosis”

Bigger than sports: Cardinals donate field, host camp at Mesquite High

  • Slug: Sports-Mesquite Cardinals Field, 605 words.
  • 2 photos available.

By Gabrielle Ducharme
Cronkite News

PEORIA – Sports at their purest are about bringing together people and their community, rather than compiling a certain amount of wins. One magical day, and one new field, helped remind a Valley neighborhood of just that.

Mesquite High School had the chance to help the community when the Arizona Cardinals chose the Peoria school for a program where the professional team donated a new football field to a local school.

In exchange, the Mesquite athletes and coaching staff hosted an Arizona Cardinals Kids’ Camp with 125 young students and athletes leading local youth through football drills and, most importantly, offering lessons on teamwork that will hopefully last a lifetime. Continue reading “Bigger than sports: Cardinals donate field, host camp at Mesquite High”

Rising to the cause: Team honors O’odham community with unique jerseys

  • Slug: Sports-Indigenous Day Rising, 706 words.
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By Miles Aronson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Depicting history, culture and community all within one jersey couldn’t be more unique. Making all proceeds from the sale of that jersey go towards supporting Native American families and children who have been displaced is even more special.

Before the Phoenix Rising notched its second straight shutout by blanking the Oakland Roots 1-0 Saturday night at Wild Horse Pass, the team warmed up in high fashion by wearing T-shirts designed to pay homage to the O’odham people and the land on which the stadium sits.

Jaime Jackson, a graphic artist from the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and a Phoenix Rising supporter, helped create the poignant jerseys for the team to wear while warming up in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Continue reading “Rising to the cause: Team honors O’odham community with unique jerseys”

Team culture, international flavor fuel fast start for ASU women’s soccer

 

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Soccer International, 770 words.
  • 2 photos available.

By Miles Aronson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Despite being a diverse, global group, the Arizona State women’s soccer team has developed a culture that’s a key to its success. Even with the pandemic challenges of the past year, unity remained a priority.

That priority has paid off. The Sun Devils got off to a scorching 8-1 start to the season and climbed as high as No. 15 in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I rankings before they opened their Pac-12 season with a 2-2 tie at Washington on Sept. 24.

They’ve suffered two subsequent conference losses but hope to bounce back Sunday against Oregon in Eugene. ASU has the talent, and much of it comes from the 13 international players on a deep, experienced 31-player roster. Continue reading “Team culture, international flavor fuel fast start for ASU women’s soccer”

ESPN to televise volleyball tourney featuring defending state champion Hamilton

  • Slug: Sports-Hamilton Volleyball 300 words.
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By Harrison Zhang
Cronkite News

CHANDLER – The Hamilton High School volleyball team is led by a senior trio of Division I-bound players, but before they head off to college, the group has its eyes set on another AIA 6A state title.

And Friday night, a national audience will have the opportunity to see the team on its quest.

The Huskies are one of four elite teams from around the country invited to the Geico Girls Volleyball Invitational at Hamilton. The event is part of a newly launched ESPN Girls High School Series, and the tournament games will air on ESPNU and ESPN+. Continue reading “ESPN to televise volleyball tourney featuring defending state champion Hamilton”

Money troubles, lingering injuries: Former Bears great Brian Urlacher helping NFL veterans

  • Slug: Sports-NFL Gridiron Gala, 670 words.
  • 1 photo available.
  • 1 video available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_0ae-ZohZk

By Henry Schleizer
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – Playing in the NFL comes with enough setbacks, challenges and struggles. Life after the NFL can present even tougher times.

Many former NFL players struggle with lingering injuries, financial hardship and filling a void in their life that football occupied from the time they were old enough to dream.

Former Chicago Bears linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher recently hosted his first Gridiron Gala in association with the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund at Mountain Shadows Resort in Paradise Valley to help raise awareness and money to help former legends of the game. Continue reading “Money troubles, lingering injuries: Former Bears great Brian Urlacher helping NFL veterans”

3 ex-Suns among former NBA players charged in scheme to defraud league healthcare plan

  • Slug: Sports-NBA Defraud Insurance, 586 words.
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By Abby Sharpe
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Nineteen people, including three former Suns players, were indicted on healthcare fraud charges in New York on Thursday after they were charged with conspiring to defraud the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of nearly $4 million.

Sebastian Telfair, Shannon Brown and Milt Palacio were among the 18 ex-NBA players arrested, as well as former University of Arizona player Will Bynum.

Palacio played for the Suns for part of the 2001-02 season, while Telfair and Brown competed together in Phoenix from 2011 to 2013. Telfair was a highly touted prospect out of high school, but has faced numerous legal issues following his time in the NBA. Continue reading “3 ex-Suns among former NBA players charged in scheme to defraud league healthcare plan”

Punt, pass and teach social, emotional learning skills: Best coaches adjust priorities

  • Slug: Sports-Coaching Skills, 1,062 words.
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By Kenneth Manoj
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Forty nine years ago, President Richard M. Nixon declared October 6 National Coaches Day to honor individuals who teach not just sports, but necessary life skills.

“Coaches are highly qualified teachers – in highly specialized fields. But more than that, they are friends and counselors who help to instill in their charges important attitudes that will serve them all their lives,” Nixon said.

From teamwork and leadership acumen, to work ethic and discipline, there is as much if not more to learn about becoming a well-rounded adult as there is to learn about kicking a ball or swinging a golf club. Continue reading “Punt, pass and teach social, emotional learning skills: Best coaches adjust priorities”

Vroominate on this: Eased COVID restrictions bring big crowd to Monster Jam in Glendale

  • Slug: Sports-Monster Jam, 708 words.
  • 3 photos available.

By Nick Zeller-Singh
Cronkite News

GLENDALE – When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the high-octane Monster Jam circuit sputtered across the country.

Monster Jam features world-class monster trucks competing in races, skills and freestyle competitions with full-throttle performances across the U.S. and Canada. Drivers compete for points – and money – at each event to earn a spot at the Monster Jam World Finals.

Although the drivers continued to compete during the pandemic, the atmosphere was challenging. Like other sports, fans play a big role and competitors are fueled by the energy of a live crowd. Continue reading “Vroominate on this: Eased COVID restrictions bring big crowd to Monster Jam in Glendale”

Remembering ‘3’: Arizona universities to honor Tyler Hilinski, address athlete mental health

  • Slug: Sports-Hilinski’s Hope, 1,042 words.
  • File photo available.

By Michael Baribault
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – If your ankle is hurting, you say something. If you have a headache, you express the pain you’re feeling. When it comes to mental health, communication is not always clear cut. Hilinski’s Hope is working to end that stigma.

Colleges and universities across the country, including the University of Arizona, Arizona State and Northern Arizona, last Saturday kicked off College Football Mental Health Week, an initiative sponsored by Hilinski’s Hope. The non-profit organization was founded in 2018 following former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski’s suicide.

It’s why ASU players will be wearing lime green ribbon helmet stickers with the number “3” in the middle honoring Hilinski, when the Sun Devils play Stanford Friday. Continue reading “Remembering ‘3’: Arizona universities to honor Tyler Hilinski, address athlete mental health”

Although youth sports receive cut of gambling revenue in New York, rules are different in Arizona

  • Slug: Sports-Gambling Revenue,451 words.
  • File photo available.

By Ryan Blank
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Nearly a month ago, Arizona became the 26th state in the country to legalize sports gambling – just in time for the NFL’s season-opening games.

With gambling off to a rapid start and the airwaves and other media inundated with advertising promoting popular sports-gambling apps, it’s a safe bet that the money is already pouring in. Could youth sports benefit from the windfall?

New York, for instance, directs 1% of sports gambling revenue to youth sports programs. Continue reading “Although youth sports receive cut of gambling revenue in New York, rules are different in Arizona”

No Maluma, no Disney princesses: Mercury return to home court after much-debated scheduling issues

  • Slug: Sports-Mercury Arena, 1,300 words.
  • 3 photos available.

By Abby Sharpe
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Home is even sweeter when it takes a while to get there.

After playing every postseason game away from their usual arena, today the Phoenix Mercury are set to play the night end of an unprecedented doubleheader with the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. The Mercury, up 2-1 against the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA’s best-of-five semifinals, can advance to the championship round with a win.

The rare double with the Suns comes after a series of events and circumstances led to debate about the fairness of scheduling in the WNBA and the treatment of the Mercury in particular. Continue reading “No Maluma, no Disney princesses: Mercury return to home court after much-debated scheduling issues”

‘Unacceptable’: Diamondbacks don’t finish as MLB’s worst team, but they were close

  • Slug: Sports-Diamondbacks Debrief, 1064 words.
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By Zach Larson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Game 162. Around the major leagues Sunday, there was plenty of buzz surrounding a lot of ball clubs in their final game of a marathon regular season.

In Arizona, the finale between the Colorado Rockies and Diamondbacks Sunday was meaningless, at least in terms of postseason impact. But around the Valley and within the Diamondbacks clubhouse, there was something big on the line: a franchise record nobody wanted.

The 2004 Diamondbacks finished 51-111, the worst record in franchise history. Going into Sunday’s game at Chase Field, the 2021 Diamondbacks had lost 110 games. Continue reading “‘Unacceptable’: Diamondbacks don’t finish as MLB’s worst team, but they were close”

After more than 600 days, ASU swim team grateful for return to competition

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Swim Returns, 815 words.
  • 3 photos available

By Ian Garcia
Cronkite News

TEMPE – The wait is finally over.

The Arizona State swimming program held its annual Maroon & Gold Intrasquad meet Friday, officially kicking off the 2021-22 season with the program’s first swimming event in more than 600 days.

After redshirting the entire team for the 2020-21 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASU coach Bob Bowman finally got to watch his athletes compete at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in their long-awaited return to the pool.

“It was really great to be back in action at our home pool in a collegiate setting,” Bowman said. “We have so many new people that I haven’t seen swim, including last year’s freshmen and this year’s freshmen, in a meet like this. It’s really fun to have everybody swim the full program of events and just kind of get a feel for where they are.” Continue reading “After more than 600 days, ASU swim team grateful for return to competition”

Crowns and cowgirls: Horsemanship, pageantry part of Miss Rodeo Arizona event

  • Slug: Sports-Rodeo Queening, 1,300 words.
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By Marlee Smith
Cronkite News

QUEEN CREEK – Rodeo queening is a long-standing tradition in the American West, dating to the first rodeo queen who was crowned 111 years ago. And the founding of the Miss Rodeo America organization in 1955 took rodeo queening to a national scale, setting up state organizations across the country.

Still, it is an often unappreciated aspect of rodeo culture.

“Rodeo queening is kind of in the low light of rodeo,” said McKenna McKinnon, president of Miss Rodeo Arizona. “A lot of people don’t necessarily know the work that they put in. The hours of studying and the things they need to know about horsemanship and equine. These girls really work hard. It’s enlightening.” Continue reading “Crowns and cowgirls: Horsemanship, pageantry part of Miss Rodeo Arizona event”