‘Tighten the screws’: As Suns near first playoffs since 2010, keys to success emerge

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By Trevor Booth
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Suns coach Monty Williams has used several phrases that stuck with his players throughout their 2020-21 season. Asked about one that stood out, veteran forward Jae Crowder recalled a tangible example that epitomizes his team’s mentality as it approaches its first playoff appearance since 2009-10.

“One day, he gave everyone screws, like wrenches, a screwdriver, he passed them all around,” Crowder said. “We was like, ‘What is this?’ We’re all holding screwdrivers.

“He’s like, ‘We got to continue to tighten the screws.’” Continue reading “‘Tighten the screws’: As Suns near first playoffs since 2010, keys to success emerge”

No 9-irons needed: Disc golf participation soars during coronavirus pandemic

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By David Payne
Special for Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Carla Walker was tired of sitting inside during the coronavirus pandemic. She missed going to the gym, shopping and spending time with friends and family. Her retail job in Central Phoenix had laid her off and she had time on her hands. She wasn’t sure how to fill it.

One day while returning from buying groceries, she took a different route to avoid traffic and drove past something she had never seen before: a disc golf course. Continue reading “No 9-irons needed: Disc golf participation soars during coronavirus pandemic”

After Tocchet’s departure, Armstrong, Coyotes look ahead to busy summer

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By Michael Gutnick
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – When the puck drops in October, a new era will dawn for the Arizona Coyotes.

Less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the 2020-21 regular season, Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong made his first move of the off-season, a move that initiated a major shift in the landscape of the franchise.

Armstrong announced Sunday that the team and Rick Tocchet have mutually agreed to part ways, ending his four-year tenure as head coach with Arizona where he established a record of 125-131-34 in 290 games. Continue reading “After Tocchet’s departure, Armstrong, Coyotes look ahead to busy summer”

Diamond in the rough: Japanese Americans imprisoned at Arizona camps during WWII found solace in baseball

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By Jordan Spurgeon
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Thirty miles southeast of Phoenix, on sacred land belonging to the Gila River Indian Community, lie the remnants of an internment camp that once housed more than 13,000 people, mostly Japanese Americans, during World War II.

Concrete foundations and cisterns remain, but gone are the fences, barracks and gun tower that revealed the purpose of the place was incarceration rather than internment, at a time when Japanese Americans were suspected of being spies and saboteurs.

“These internment camps were less like camps and more like prisons,” said Koji Lau-Ozawa, an archeology doctoral student at Stanford University whose grandparents were incarcerated there. “There’s a complicated history, but it’s important to note that.”

Gone, too, are the bases, bleachers and foul lines made of flour that represented a form of escapism for those inside the wire: baseball. Continue reading “Diamond in the rough: Japanese Americans imprisoned at Arizona camps during WWII found solace in baseball”

Faith, fitness, furtherance: Arizonans find resources for positive change amid COVID-19 pandemic

  • Slug: Sports-Health Pandemic Resources,2620
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By Trevor Booth
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Gigi Soltero felt the world crashing down on her, and there was nothing she could do about it.

When former President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency on March 13, 2020, Soltero was soon thrust toward the frontlines as a licensed practical nurse. She already was battling her own issues with heavy drinking and a recovery from an abusive relationship, adding to her stress.

Looking for direction in a time of confusion, Soltero began searching for a personal trainer, something she hoped would improve her mental state. She did not want her struggles to consume her. Continue reading “Faith, fitness, furtherance: Arizonans find resources for positive change amid COVID-19 pandemic”

New frontier: Athletes, teams dipping their toes into cryptocurrency, NFT pool

  • Slug: Sports-Cryptocurrencies in Sports,1150
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By Obren Manjencich
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Sports is a billion-dollar industry, with revenue streams ranging from television rights to ticket sales. Add cryptocurrency and NFTs to the mix, and this latest gold rush has leagues, teams and players taking advantage of opportunities in an unlikely territory.

Former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taijaun Walker, now with the New York Mets, was the first known and active Major League Baseball player to create and sell a piece of digital art through a non-fungible token, otherwise known as an NFT, the New York Times reported. The piece of art sold for 2.35 Ether, a form of cryptocurrency, or roughly $4,275. Proceeds from the auction benefited the team’s charity, the Amazin’ Mets Foundation.

Walker’s NFT announcement opened eyes and raised eyebrows about this new way athletes could generate income. Continue reading “New frontier: Athletes, teams dipping their toes into cryptocurrency, NFT pool”

A pain, a diagnosis, a tumor, a fight: Northwest Christian’s Floyd uses faith, determination to persevere

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By Connor Worley
Special for Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The pain arrived in a blink.

It started as a dull throbbing in Wilson Floyd’s left knee. She didn’t think much of it initially, chalking it up to some leftover soreness from a soccer game with her club, SC del Sol, a few days earlier.

But as she went about her school day in late September at Northwest Christian, the pain – and its intensity – magnified.

“At our school there’s some stairs. I couldn’t walk up the stairs because it just was like, so painful,” Wilson said. Continue reading “A pain, a diagnosis, a tumor, a fight: Northwest Christian’s Floyd uses faith, determination to persevere”

Making waves: Drag boat racing finds home at Buckeye’s Hidden Lake

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By Dylan Wilhelm
Cronkite News

BUCKEYE – Just south of Buckeye’s city center and north of the Gila River sits Hidden Lake, a quiet and secluded 120-acre recreation area.

When the drag boat racers arrive, however, it is a place bustling with activity and entertainment and has become a popular destination for the sport’s competition in the desert.

Hidden Lake is home to many events put on by the Arizona Drag Boat Association, which feature intense quarter-mile races with speeds hitting close to 200 mph.

Continue reading “Making waves: Drag boat racing finds home at Buckeye’s Hidden Lake”

One move ahead: Growth of chess soars during pandemic, especially online

  • Slug: Sports-Chess Popularity COVID,2280
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By Michael Gutnick
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Jericho Hall was 6 when she first saw a chessboard.

Hall’s grandfather showed her the pieces, puzzled by the distinct figures, numbers and letters around the wooden board in her home in Texas.

“I was intrigued by it because it was nothing I had seen before,” Hall said. “I found the instruction booklet on how to play chess and forced my grandpa to teach me. He had no idea how to play at the time, but he learned how to for me. I fell in love with the game at that moment.” Continue reading “One move ahead: Growth of chess soars during pandemic, especially online”

Pushing past limits, Joe Delagrave embraces different role: accomplished Paralympian

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By Obren Manjenich
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – It was July 10, 2004.

Joe Delagrave was on the Mississippi River, enjoying a boating trip with friends. When the driver made a sudden turn, the boat struck ground and Delagrave flew from his seat and collided with the front interior of the boat.

His life changed forever. Continue reading “Pushing past limits, Joe Delagrave embraces different role: accomplished Paralympian”

Music to their ears: After yearlong wait, ASU marching band members reunite to play live  

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Band Returns, 1,120 words
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By Kaylee Connors
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – As the beat of the ASU marching band met the claps and chants of the 942 Crew, members of the spirit squad shook their pom poms and the color guard complemented the scene with props and dancing.

They brought an energy and electricity to Sun Devil Stadium that has been missing for over a year.

No one was happier to be at that recent Arizona State-Arizona women’s soccer game than members of the Sun Devil Marching Band. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the group has not played together live since performing in Las Vegas in 2020. The performance at the soccer game was its first and last of the year. Continue reading “Music to their ears: After yearlong wait, ASU marching band members reunite to play live  “

With legalized sports betting coming to Arizona, concerns about gambling addiction increase

  • Slug: Sports-Gambling Addiction, 1,080 words
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By Jesse Morrison
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The ability to attend a sporting event, place a bet on a team and possibly return home a winner will soon be a reality in Arizona.

So, too, could an uptick in gambling addiction, some worry.

Excitement surrounded Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision to sign a bill on April 15 that allows a significant expansion of gambling, including sports betting under licenses issued to tribes and professional sports teams. Gambling on fantasy sports and Keno games at horse race tracks will also be permitted. Continue reading “With legalized sports betting coming to Arizona, concerns about gambling addiction increase”

High school hockey in desert flourishing despite lack of sanctioning by AIA

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona Hockey Association, 1,054 words
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By Jenna Mazel
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Although it is not sanctioned by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, high school hockey has a foothold in the desert.

“Obviously we are not a hockey state,” said David Hines, the executive director of the AIA, the governing body of high school sports in Arizona.

Maybe not now, but it’s changing. Continue reading “High school hockey in desert flourishing despite lack of sanctioning by AIA”

Not just for the pros: Arizona high schools, colleges turning to baseball analytics, technology

  • Slug: Sports-Baseball Analytics, 3,419 words
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By Joshua Iversen and Koki Riley
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – GateWay Community College coach Rob Shabansky admits he wasn’t a huge fan of technology and analytics in baseball. 

He didn’t understand its true purpose, or the information it produced. He couldn’t grasp how this data could help improve the performance of his players on the diamond. 

Shabansky, like many others in the baseball industry, was skeptical of this numbers-based approach. Continue reading “Not just for the pros: Arizona high schools, colleges turning to baseball analytics, technology”

For Arizona’s Letuli, connection with Dodgers helped her with breast cancer battle

  • Slug: Sports-Impact Sports Letuli, 1,010 words
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By Derek Moskal
Cronkite News

PEORIA – To many people, professional sports are simply entertainment. They provide an arena for athletes to play the games we played as kids.

For others, they are so much more. They are inspiring. They are an escape from difficult times. The are a forum for athletes who have the capability to impact lives with simple conversations.

Peoria resident Jessie Letuli finds truth in all these things. In December of 2016, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Continue reading “For Arizona’s Letuli, connection with Dodgers helped her with breast cancer battle”

‘Bigger than he is’: Goligoski’s veteran leadership fueling fight through Coyotes’ playoff race

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By Michael Gutnick
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Through the rough patches this season, the Arizona Coyotes have called upon their leaders to make sense of the team’s troubles.

Veteran defenseman Alex Goligoski is often summoned after tough defeats, answering the media’s questions in a meaningful manner to reinforce his team’s confidence.

However, following a 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night at Staples Center, Goligoski took center stage to share his impressions on an impressive road performance. Continue reading “‘Bigger than he is’: Goligoski’s veteran leadership fueling fight through Coyotes’ playoff race”

Picture of success: a look at Suns’ journey to 42 victories from behind the lens

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By Alina Nelson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – In the midst of a pandemic, that Phoenix Suns have given Arizona sports fan just what they need:

A winning team.

Their two losses in a row – their first double defeat since January – does not reflect how the team has played this season. They rank in the Top 10 in scoring with 114.3 points per game and sit only two games behind the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference with a 42-18 record. Continue reading “Picture of success: a look at Suns’ journey to 42 victories from behind the lens”

Since inserting centerfielder Pavin Smith at leadoff, Arizona Diamondbacks are 5-1

  • Slug: Sports-Pavin Smith Diamondbacks, 1,140 words
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By Connor Morman
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – When center fielder Tim Locastro was forced to leave a game against the Washington Nationals after dislocating his pinky trying to steal second base, the Diamondbacks were left in a bind.

After losing star center fielder/second baseman Ketel Marte in the sixth game of the season, Locastro was the lone center fielder left on the roster. In a forward-thinking move mere hours earlier, the Diamondbacks acquired center fielder Nick Heath from the Kansas City Royals. There was only one problem: He wasn’t available for that game in D.C.

Instead, manager Torey Lovullo turned to Pavin Smith, the college first baseman turned corner outfielder, to man center field the rest of the game. The decision seemed odd considering the Diamondbacks have two veteran outfielders in David Peralta and Kole Calhoun with experience, albeit limited, in center field. Continue reading “Since inserting centerfielder Pavin Smith at leadoff, Arizona Diamondbacks are 5-1”

Diamondbacks grant helps Coronado High improve facilities, enhance safety

  • Slug: Sports-Coronado Fields Diamondbacks, 600 words
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By Dylan Wilhelm
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – Many high school students spend as much time on football fields, baseball diamonds or volleyball courts as they do in the classroom.

Coronado High School Athletic Director Anthony Miller and Dons baseball coach Don Spaniak wanted to give their baseball and softball athletes facilities the best and safest environments possible.

But improvements aren’t cheap. So they asked the Arizona Diamondbacks for help. Continue reading “Diamondbacks grant helps Coronado High improve facilities, enhance safety”

Top two Arizona high school prospects Kath, Selvidge making waves before MLB draft

  • Slug: Sports-MLB Draft Arizona, 983 words
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By Connor Morman
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Two of the most highly regarded high school baseball prospects in the Valley continue to showcase why they might be top picks in this year’s MLB Draft.

Desert Mountain infielder Wes Kath and Hamilton pitcher Brock Selvidge are both ranked one and two, respectively, in Prep Baseball Report Arizona’s Class of 2021 Player Rankings, updated on April 9.

The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is scheduled to begin July 11. Continue reading “Top two Arizona high school prospects Kath, Selvidge making waves before MLB draft”