Coyotes at center of ‘cancel culture’ debate after cutting ties with draft pick Mitchell Miller

  • Slug: Sports-Coyotes Cancel Culture, 890 words
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By Michael Gutnick
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The Arizona Coyotes’ decision to part ways with a draft pick accused of bullying a classmate with developmental disabilities has put the organization at the center of a national debate about forgiveness and cancel culture.

The Coyotes on Thursday renounced the rights to their 2020 fourth-round draft pick Mitchell Miller, 18, after more details surfaced about his role in the bullying of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers at an Ohio junior high school that led to a charge of assault in 2016. The Arizona Republic reported that Miller directed racial taunts at Meyer-Crothers, who is Black, and also forced him to eat candy that was in a urinal, according to a police report.

“We have decided to renounce the rights to Mitchell Miller, effective immediately,” Coyotes President & CEO Xavier Gutierrez said in a statement. “Prior to selecting Mitchell in the NHL Draft, we were aware that a bullying incident took place in 2016. We do not condone this type of behavior but embraced this as a teachable moment to work with Mitchell to make him accountable for his actions and provide him with an opportunity to be a leader on anti-bullying and anti-racism efforts. Continue reading “Coyotes at center of ‘cancel culture’ debate after cutting ties with draft pick Mitchell Miller”

Humans (and dogs) grateful Phoenix parks have reopened during COVID-19 pandemic

  • Slug: Sports-Revisiting Phoenix Parks, 671 words
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By Frida Mata
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – On Friday nights at Cesar Chavez Skate Park, Atlético Arizona United Latinos SC is one of the many groups seen playing soccer and enjoying the field’s recent reopening.

“It’s very important for us to be out here. I think sports in a child’s youth is very important for them both physically and mentally,” said Manuel Bonilla, who formed the Valley soccer club in 2003 and has been anticipating a safe place for his players to play ever since the COVID-19 pandemic forced area fields and parks to shutter.

Since the Phoenix City Council voted to reopen its athletic fields and parks On Oct. 7, residents and sports teams have begun to enjoy some of the amenities. So have animal lovers, who have returned to one of the city’s 13 off-leash dog parks. Continue reading “Humans (and dogs) grateful Phoenix parks have reopened during COVID-19 pandemic”

Voters at Gila River Arena among million-plus in county to cast early ballots

  • Slug: Sports-Coyotes Arena Voting, 800 words
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By Michael Gutnick
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Nearly eight months ago, 17,125 hockey fans filled the seats of Gila River Arena to watch the Arizona Coyotes in their final home game of the season before a league-wide shutdown due to COVID-19 concerns.

On Wednesday, the Coyotes and the community returned to Gila River Arena not to watch a hockey game, but to do their civic duty.

Vote. Continue reading “Voters at Gila River Arena among million-plus in county to cast early ballots”

Brophy enters boys state golf tournament with confidence after Hamilton victory

  • Slug: Sports-Brophy Golf Favored, 1,200 words
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By Brandon Jones
Cronkite News

TUCSON – The Brophy Prep boys golf team enters this week’s state tournament with an extra dose of confidence after winning the Duke Open at Rancho El Dorado in Maricopa recently and defeating rival Hamilton by five strokes.

It was the Broncos’ first victory over the defending state champions this season after losing to Hamilton at the Antigua Invitational by 12 strokes and the Dobson Invitational by one shot.

“We kind of think we proved to ourselves that we could beat Hamilton, which is our competitor going in the state,” Brophy senior Cameron Kaiser said. “The fact that our worst score on our team was 3-under-par just gives us a lot of momentum going into state and just more confidence in what we can do at state.” Continue reading “Brophy enters boys state golf tournament with confidence after Hamilton victory”

Neither youth nor pandemic can stop Xavier girls golf from winning 37th state title

  • Slug: Sports-Xavier Wins Title, 900 words
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By Brandon Jones
Cronkite News

TUCSON – The dynasty continues.

The Xavier Prep Gators took home the girls golf state title at Omni Tucson National Tuesday, one year after being handed only their fourth championship loss since 1979 by the Pinnacle Pioneers.
“This is our 37th state (title), and this was very satisfying. It came down to the end,” Gators coach Sister Lynn Winsor said. “It was good to see a little freshman, Kate Hauptman, make that last putt to win it. COVID-19 (changed a lot) this year, but it didn’t change the enthusiasm, and I think that’s what it’s all about. They love their school, they love the team and they love each other.”

The pandemic made this year’s tournament feel much different. Continue reading “Neither youth nor pandemic can stop Xavier girls golf from winning 37th state title”

Arizona natives Cody Bellinger, Aaron Slegers represent opposite sides in World Series

  • Slug: Sports-Pac-12 Patience, 1,100 words
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By Cierra Luna
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Two Valley natives are representing teams on opposite sides of the World Series this year.

Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who was born in Scottsdale and attended Hamilton High School, is no stranger to the big stage, batting his way to a third Series appearance at the ripe age of 25.

“You know, it sounds crazy, but it’s nothing new. … At this point there have been so many great moments, it’s hard to keep them straight,” said Mike Wood, Bellinger’s coach throughout high school. Continue reading “Arizona natives Cody Bellinger, Aaron Slegers represent opposite sides in World Series”

Kyler Murray welcomes primetime with open arms, delivers another rich performance

  • Slug: Sports-Cardinals Follow, 1,000 words
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By Rob Kleifield
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Kyler Murray reportedly spent $95,000 on a gemstone-encrusted pendant in the likeness of martial artist Bruce Lee in March.

While the Arizona Cardinals quarterback wasn’t wearing the pricey trinket during Sunday night’s sparkling 37-34 overtime victory against the previously unbeaten Seattle Seahawks, he produced a performance just as dazzling as his jewelry and as efficient as a Lee takedown.

In Arizona’s second primetime game in as many weeks, Murray threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, marshalling a Cardinals offense that rolled up 519 total yards in a roller coaster ride of a game against their NFC mega-rival. Continue reading “Kyler Murray welcomes primetime with open arms, delivers another rich performance”

Delay of game: Pac-12 players focus on learning while awaiting start to pandemic-shortened season

  • Slug: Sports-Pac-12 Patience, 1,100 words
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By Nick Hedges
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Saturdays on the West Coast look and feel a lot different this fall.

In a time when college communities from Tucson to Seattle, and everywhere in between, are accustomed to college football Saturdays, the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out nearly half of the typical season. And for a time, it appeared as if there would be no Pac-12 Conference football at all.

With their season in limbo, the conference’s players were forced to watch as some of the country’s other premier leagues played actual games. Continue reading “Delay of game: Pac-12 players focus on learning while awaiting start to pandemic-shortened season”

Even against backdrop of pandemic, Pinnacle girls take aim at state golf title

  • Slug: Sports-Girls Golf Preview, 1,100 words
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By Brandon Jones
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Led by senior Katie Stinchcomb, Pinnacle High School beat some of Arizona’s best girls golf teams at the State Preview tournament in Laveen recently and served notice the Pioneers were ready to defend their Division I state championship Monday and Tuesday in Tucson.

They will try to do it at an event that will have a decidedly different feel.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, safety measures are in place. Spectators at the Omni Tucson National Resort are limited to two per player, and they are required to wear masks. Players must also wear a face covering before and after competition and remain at least 6 feet away from other players or spectators. Continue reading “Even against backdrop of pandemic, Pinnacle girls take aim at state golf title”

With recent victory, Joey Logano focused on NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 in Phoenix

  • Slug: Sports-Logano Championship, 600 words
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By Cole Cusumano
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The Hollywood Casino 400 marked the beginning of the semifinal Round of 8 for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

And with only two weeks remaining before a new champion is crowned, the once blurry Cup Series playoff picture began to come into focus thanks to an unlikely winner at Kansas Speedway on October 18.

Joey Logano followed a yellow brick road to victory in Kansas, outracing Kevin Harvick to the line and punching his ticket into the Championship 4 at the first Cup Series finale to be held at Phoenix Raceway. Continue reading “With recent victory, Joey Logano focused on NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 in Phoenix”

Ready for some football? Finally, so is Chaparral High after COVID outbreak

  • Slug: Sports-Chaparral Finally Plays, 993 words
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By Brandon Jones
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – After its first three games were canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak, the Chaparral High football team will finally take the field Friday in a home game against the 0-3 Brophy Prep Broncos.

Shut down for a 14-day quarantine after several players tested positive for COVID-19 two days before what was to be the team’s season opener on Oct. 2, the Firebirds were given the go-ahead from health officials to begin practicing last week. The season opener, said Chaparral coach Brent Barnes, has been a long time coming.

“We were hoping we’d start July 27, the first practice, and I think the first game was (supposed to be) on August 21,” he said. “Here we are, two months later, and we haven’t played a game yet. The anticipation for playing the game has been lingering on for a while.” Continue reading “Ready for some football? Finally, so is Chaparral High after COVID outbreak”

Can Stafford’s Gaethje 2.0 upset undefeated Nurmagomedov at UFC’s Fight Island?

  • Slug: Sports-MMA Locals Preview, 1,000 words
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By Chris Lopez
Cronkite News

Justin Gaethje will have to change his profession to “combat enigmatologist” Saturday night on Fight Island when he faces Khabib Nurmagomedov — MMA’s hardest puzzle to solve.

The saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Well, Gaethje broke two times in a row; first at the hands of Eddie Alvarez in December 2017 (KO loss) and then five months later against Dustin Poirier (TKO loss). Those losses convinced Gaethje and coach Trevor Wittman to fix the broken pieces. Continue reading “Can Stafford’s Gaethje 2.0 upset undefeated Nurmagomedov at UFC’s Fight Island?”

Phoenix Rising FC hopes to keep dreams of first-ever title alive

  • Slug: Sports-Phoenix Rising Preview, 876 words
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By Aaron Bradley James
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Just two wins away from their first-ever league title, the Phoenix Rising FC will host the El Paso Locomotive FC in the USL Championship Western Conference Final on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Casino Arizona Field in Scottsdale.

A victory Saturday will put Phoenix in the league final on Nov. 1 against either the Louisville City FC or the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Phoenix’s game preparation this week was overshadowed by news of the return of coach Rick Schantz and the Rising’s unprecedented decision to voluntarily forego the opportunity to host a championship match. Continue reading “Phoenix Rising FC hopes to keep dreams of first-ever title alive”

Contracts, production trucks, national spotlight: ESPN showcases Hamilton, Saguaro

By Talia Massi
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – High school athletes rarely get to look over their shoulder and have cameras with the ESPN logo pointed in their direction. For the unbeaten Hamilton and Saguaro football programs, they are among the lucky few who get to showcase their talent on the national stage by the biggest network in sports.

Week 8 of the ESPN Geico High School Football Showcase features Hamilton vs. Saguaro Friday at 6 p.m. The game between the two Arizona powerhouses airs on ESPN2.

While most of the players and coaches say they are approaching this game like any other, the preparation that goes into having a nationally televised event is nothing like their other games this season. Continue reading “Contracts, production trucks, national spotlight: ESPN showcases Hamilton, Saguaro”

It may be a redshirt season but ASU swim, dive teams still putting in work

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Swimming Diving, 800 words
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By Frida Mata
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – With their 2020-21 season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASU swim and dive teams are focusing on how they can best prepare for the 2021-22 season. So far, coaches are enthusiastic about what they’ve seen.

“We are just concerned about trying to get back to a fitness level after having really missed an unprecedented amount of time in the summer,” coach Bob Bowman said. “We’re gonna have a long build up, a long developmental period through the end of this year, and then start looking towards maybe some outside USA swimming competition or local competitions and getting into that mode after the first year. But, I think the main difference is the first semester we really are just concentrating on training.”

The decision was made in July that the entire swim and dive team should redshirt this season, so none of the athletes will lose a year of eligibility. In addition to using this semester to improve their fitness, the athletes also are focusing more on improving their techniques, rather than swim times, which coaches believe will make them better next season. Continue reading “It may be a redshirt season but ASU swim, dive teams still putting in work”

COVID-19 safety a priority as youth soccer returns, yet concerns about compliance remain

  • Slug: Sports-Youth Soccer COVID, 1,740 words
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By Aaron Bradley James
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – With the Arizona sun shining, players scored goals, officials blew whistles and spectators cheered as youth soccer took center stage at the recent 2020 Arsenal Challenge tournament at sports complexes around the Valley.

They also used hand sanitizer, wore masks and socially distanced because this is what sports look like during the COVID-19 era.

More than 450 teams – boys and girls under-7 to under-19 – converged in the Phoenix area to compete, test their skills and hopefully raise a trophy in triumph. Many came from California, where coronavirus restrictions still do not allow events of this scale. Continue reading “COVID-19 safety a priority as youth soccer returns, yet concerns about compliance remain”

‘I need to learn’: Phoenix Rising FC reinstates coach Rick Schantz

  • Slug: Sports-Rising announcement, 700 words
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ByEdwin Perez
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Following the announcement of Phoenix Rising FC voluntarily relinquishing home field advantage in the USL Championship Final if it advances, the team made another big decision and reinstated coach Rick Schantz.

Schantz was put on administrative leave by the club after appearing insensitive when Phoenix’s Junior Flemmings allegedly directed a homophobic slur toward San Diego Loyal defender Collin Martin, who is openly gay, during a match on Sept. 30.

Shantz has been absent from three games – the final regular season game and two playoff matches. Continue reading “‘I need to learn’: Phoenix Rising FC reinstates coach Rick Schantz”

Out of respect for LGBTQ community, Rising will relinquish home field if they advance to final

  • Slug: Sports-Rising Relinquish Advantage, 200 words
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By Chris Howley
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC announced Tuesday it will voluntarily relinquish home field advantage in the USL Championship Final if it wins its playoff match this weekend.

The club made the decision after recognizing that it was given the chance to host the final after being awarded three points following San Diego Loyal FC’s forfeiture. That occurred due to an allegation that Rising forward Junior Flemmings used a homophobic slur.

The club said in a statement that hosting the final would be inappropriate and inconsistent with its values. Continue reading “Out of respect for LGBTQ community, Rising will relinquish home field if they advance to final”

After big Monday night win, Cardinals prepare for matchup against undefeated Seahawks

  • Slug: Sports-Cardinals Look Ahead, 400 words
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By Ethan Greni
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Despite putting up a season-high 38 points on a national stage, Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said the team still has not “hit its stride” offensively.

“We’ve got to hit it here soon,” Kingsbury said Tuesday. “We have a great Seattle team coming in who’s scoring a bunch of points and has a tremendous defense.”

After a 38-10 thrashing of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football, the Cardinals are gearing up for what could potentially be the most important game of their season. The 4-2 Cardinals host the 5-0 Seahawks on Sunday. Continue reading “After big Monday night win, Cardinals prepare for matchup against undefeated Seahawks”

Former ASU softball star Macha knows thing or two about curveballs, and COVID-19 threw one

  • Slug: Sports-Breanna Macha Softball, 1,000 words
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By Cierra Luna
Cronkite News

CHANDLER – Breanna Macha-Peterson, a former Arizona State softball ace, knows how to rise to a challenge. And plenty have come her way in 2020.

Consider them met.

After helping lead the Sun Devils to the 2018 Women’s College World Series, Macha-Peterson accepted a job at New Mexico as the Lobos’ pitching coach. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the college softball season, as well as her husband’s minor league baseball season, the couple packed up and moved back to Arizona.

Like a lot of assistant coaches, Macha-Peterson’s position at New Mexico was funded in part with money from offseason camps. When spring sports were canceled by the NCAA, and summer camps also eliminated for 2020, some assistant coaches saw their positions at least temporarily eliminated. Continue reading “Former ASU softball star Macha knows thing or two about curveballs, and COVID-19 threw one”