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It’s been an interesting summer so far for Mingus Union High School Athletic Director Mike Boysen. He’s had a few head coach positions open up at the end of spring and has worked tirelessly to fill them.

Brian Herman was officially announced by Mingus Union High School Athletic Director Mike Boysen on July 13 as the new head volleyball coach for the Marauders. Herman played  volleyball in high school in Pennsylvania and was a Mingus assistant volleyball coach under Audrey Islas since 2008 before receiving the promotion.On July 13, Boysen officially ended the search for a new volleyball coach. He didn’t have to look far, naming three-year assistant coach Brian Herman the Marauders’ next head volleyball coach.

“I think he’ll do a good job for us. He’ll be just fine,” Boysen said Tuesday.

Herman took over for longtime Mingus Head Coach Audrey Islas on an interim basis halfway through the 2010 season, but the title was not official until this week.

Islas took a leave of absence from the school and decided to make it a permanent decision at the end of spring, leaving the Marauders without a volleyball coach.

At first, Herman wasn’t interested in the job, stating that he thought it was better for the school to find a teacher to replace Islas’ class load first, preferably a teacher who would want to coach volleyball as well.

Midway through July, it didn’t look like Boysen was going to find a suitable replacement, thus coming to Herman to help him out.

“They had trouble filling the slot. Ideally the school needs to find a teacher that can coach volleyball too. But, I’m glad to be the new head coach. I look forward to working with the girls,” Herman said Tuesday.

Not far from Philadelphia sits a little town called Lancaster, Penn., where Herman grew up.

Living in the Verde Valley is a little different than growing up on the East Coast. The long, cold, 12-foot snowdrift winters are no longer present, and neither are bodies of water for that matter.

Trading oak trees and miles of green for desert and a few cacti couldn’t have been easy, but so far, Herman is making do.

Herman graduated from Penn Manor High School in 1997 before moving on to Pennsylvania State University.

Herman lasted only a semester at PSU before deciding to follow his dream to become a pilot and an aerospace engineer. He moved to Prescott Valley in 1999 to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“I wanted to do it right and get into the flight program so I decided to move out here,” Herman said.

Herman lasted only two years in the program before dropping out due to financial reasons in 2001. He also met the love of his life in Kristy, who he married the same year.

“The student loans began to run out and I had huge bills so I had to stop. It was a tough decision,” Herman said.

Herman began work in a concrete masonry business his wife’s father owned, and has been doing it ever since. He is currently a concrete foreman. Herman and his wife Kristy have three children — Alek, 6, Anrika, 4, and Kalee, 3.

In high school, Herman played soccer and volleyball and was a second team All-Conference selection for volleyball his junior season.

Herman became interested in coaching volleyball at Mingus when he first moved to the Verde Valley 10 years ago, but never had the time to do so.

“I never had the time at first. But now, with the downturn in the economy, I have some time to work with the kids,” Herman said.

He joined the Mingus coaching staff in 2008 and has worked as the head assistant coach for three years until being named  head coach this week.

“I’d like to maintain the level of play Audrey [Islas] did here and I think I can do that. We expect to make state, we expect to compete and we want to continue to build a strong program here at Mingus,” Herman said.

In his spare time, Herman likes to still play volleyball, participating in local recreation leagues, and he hunts and fishes.

Herman is a big Nittany Lions fan and likes to follow the Arizona Cardinals football team.

“I’m happy to be here and I look forward to this opportunity,” Herman said.

Tyler Kelly pitched his tail off Monday, July 11, in an 8-4 loss to the Camp Verde All-Stars. Kelly and his Verde Valley Majors All-Stars baseball team [ages 11 to 12] finished the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament with a 2-2 record.Despite having one of its best pitchers on the mound Monday, July 11, the Verde Valley Majors All-Stars baseball team [ages 11 to 12] was eliminated, 8-4.

“I’m happy with the kids, even though I don’t think they performed up to their ability,” Verde Valley Head Coach Creighton Kim said. “I am a little disappointed that things didn’t line up for us the way we hoped.”

At the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament in Prescott Valley on Monday, Verde Valley sent 11-year-old Tyler Kelly to the mound to face its crosstown rival, the Camp Verde All-Stars.

After throwing a zero up on the board in the first inning, Kelly went on to allow Camp Verde to score two runs in the second, and three runs each in the third and fourth innings and was chased from the game after 85 pitches.

Down 2-0, Verde Valley scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning to tie it, 2-2, but then gave up the three runs in the third and the fourth on several miscues, and trailed 8-4 which was the final.

Kelly went four innings, allowing eight runs, four of which were earned, on four hits and one walk while striking out six Camp Verde hitters.

Kim brought in 12-year-old relief pitcher Jordan Estrada who shut down Camp Verde in his one inning of work in the fifth.

In the sixth, 12-year-old Josh Cole did the same, keeping Verde Valley close, but in the end, the boys in red couldn’t get it done with the bats.

Standouts at the plate for Verde Valley included Kelly who was 3-4 on the game while 12-year-old third baseman Bailey Pelletier was 2-3 with two runs scored. Right fielder Tim Loper, 12, was 2-3 as well with two runs scored.

Verde Valley began its tournament with an impressive 7-0 win July 5 over the Chino Valley All-Stars, but lost July 6 to the Prescott Valley All-Stars, 10-5.

After beating the Wickenburg All-Stars on Saturday, July 9, 14-0, Verde Valley earned the right to play Camp Verde.

With the 8-4 loss to Camp Verde, Verde Valley finishes the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament with a 2-2 record.

Camp Verde went on to defeat the Prescott South All-Stars on Tuesday, July 12, 4-0, putting them in the District 10 championship game Wednesday, July 13, against Prescott Valley.

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. Camp Verde will need to defeat Prescott Valley twice if it expects to win the title.

Bob YoungHaving tendered his resignation in May, giving up all that he had known for 20-plus years at Mingus Union High School, Bob Young is back.

Confirmed by Mingus Athletic Director Mike Boysen on Friday, July 1, Young is returning to coach the Marauders football program for the fall 2011 season, and possibly beyond.

“I was told this morning by our superintendent and our principal that he was, in fact, coming back,” Boysen said Friday.

Mingus players and coaching staff were alerted Thursday, June 30, of Young coming back, with Boysen and company confirming early Friday morning.

Young resigned May 27 after being lured by Prescott High School Athletic Director Bill White to coach the Badger football program.

On June 1, Young released a statement in the Cottonwood Journal Extra, stating, “At this part of my life, I was getting stagnant. I felt I wasn’t getting better as a coach, and that I was coasting.”

Welcome back to coasting.

Whether he coasts, or gets better as a coach this coming season, the Marauders and their coaching staff are just happy to have him back.

“I was happy to do it, but I’m glad he’s back. I’d rather be an assistant. This is what I’m good at,” longtime Mingus assistant coach Neil Dixon said.

Dixon was the interim head coach for Mingus for about two weeks before being named the man in charge June 22. Less than 10 days later, Young reclaimed his title as head coach.

“I’m coming back. Yeah, I know it’s kind of goofy, but things worked out for me to come back. I’ve decided to come back because of my family,” Young said in a voicemail message Friday.

Young is 68-21 since 2004 at Mingus and has led the Marauders to the state playoffs six straight seasons.

Young brought home a state championship in 1997 and came close in 2007 when the Marauders started 13-0 before losing to Notre Dame Preparatory Academy in the title game at Cardinals Stadium.

Mingus was 9-3 in 2010, defeating No. 11 Greenway High School in the first round of the 4A-II conference state playoffs in November, 28-21. The Marauders lost to No. 3 Notre Dame the following week in the quarterfinals, 42-14.

Young led the Mingus baseball team to a state title in 2009, and stepped down as head coach to take the pitching coach job under first-year Head Coach Kent Winslow this past spring.

No official word was released regarding whether Young will retain his position as pitching coach for the Marauders.

Verde Valley Little League Commissioner Jayne Lee officially announced All-Star rosters Monday, June 20, setting the tone for what should be a solid All-Star season for young Cottonwood baseball players.

Andrew Kulis, left, scoops up a ground ball during defensive drills for the Verde Valley  All-Stars [ages 10 to 11] practice at Riverfront Park on Friday, June 17.Leading the way for Cottonwood will be the Verde Valley All-Stars [ages 10 to 11], who are coached by Pete Kelly.

Kelly believes this is one of the better teams he’s had, and he predicts a solid tournament come Friday, June 24, in Camp Verde.

“We’re looking good,” Kelly said in an interview Friday, June 17. “I think we have a really good shot of winning the district title.”

Outfielder Alissa Webb stretches for the catch during practice for the Verde Valley Juniors All-Stars [ages 13 to 14] softball team at Riverfront Park on Friday, June 17.Standouts making the All-Star team for Kelly are 11-year-olds Ben Grandy, Josh Scalf, Gus Henley, Matt Bachler, Samuel Kunze and Jose Pacheco.

Kelly’s boys are set to face the Camp Verde All-Stars this Friday at Butler Park with a first pitch start time of 7:30 p.m.

For the Verde Valley Majors All-Stars [ages 11 to 12], Creighton Kim and his group of players are looking forward to their tournament, which is slated to begin Tuesday, July 5, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley.

“We have an all-around good team. It looks to be a promising year,” second-year manager Kim said Monday.

Top players for the Majors are 12-year-olds Trever Galloway, Jordan Estrada and Bailey Pelletier while 11-year-olds Tyler Kelly and Mitchell Lindsay also made the team.

In the Minors [ages 9 to 10] division, Verde Valley sports a solid team led by 10-year-olds Chris Mathe, Justin Tanner and Evan Favorite. Head Coach Chris Taylor takes the helm for the Minors, who are scheduled to begin their tournament Friday in Chino Valley.

As for softball, the girls are just as talented as the boys, and the Verde Valley Juniors All-Stars [ages 13 to 14] are ready for action under Head Coach Kirsten Lennon.

Lennon has several solid players including 14-year-olds Audrey Tollison, Michaela Dixon and Tyler Lennon.

The Juniors begin their trek for a District 10 title Tuesday, July 5, at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood. Verde Valley is scheduled to play the Wickenburg All-Stars on Tuesday with a first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.

The Verde Valley All-Stars baseball team [ages 10 to 11] claimed the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament championship Thursday, June 30, defeating the Camp Verde All-Stars, 10-6. It is coach Pete Kelly’s second District 10 title in as many years, after he coached the Verde Valley Minors All-Stars [ages 9 to 10] to a title in 2010.The Verde Valley All-Stars baseball team [ages 10 to 11] claimed the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament championship Thursday, June 30.

Verde Valley would get its rival in the Camp Verde All-Stars on Friday in the title game, a rematch from the first-round game June 27 which Verde Valley won, 11-1.

Verde Valley defeated the Prescott Valley All-Stars in the tournament semifinals June 28, 16-6, which earned the team a spot in the finals. Verde Valley outscored its opponents 37-13 in three tournament games.

Up 6-5 heading into the top of the sixth inning, Verde Valley tallied four runs on five base hits to put things out of reach for Camp Verde.

“I actually said to the boys, ‘I want at least three runs in this inning. We need to get a big lead.’ For whatever reason, it worked, and we were able to win the championship,” Verde Valley skipper Pete Kelly said.

It is the second District 10 title for Kelly, who coached the Verde Valley Minors All-Stars baseball team [ages 9 to 10] to a district title in 2010.

Starting pitcher Jose Pacheco, 11, toed the mound for Verde Valley on Thursday looking to shut down the cross-valley rival at Butler Park in Camp Verde.

Pacheco was brilliant against Camp Verde in game one, and wasn’t far off in the title game against the same lineup.

Pacheco pitched a complete game, going six innings while allowing six runs, four of which were unearned in the 10-6 victory.

“He started against Camp Verde in our first game, so I figured he’d do a good job against them again this time around,” Kelly said.

Pacheco held Camp Verde at bay for several innings, but it was the Verde Valley offensive attack in the sixth which put it away for the boys in red.

Center fielder Matt Bachler, 11, had a big hit to get things going for Verde Valley in the sixth, abd 11-year-old Gus Henley had a clutch three-run double in the inning to put Verde Valley up 10-5.

“I thought the kids performed well. I was a bit disappointed in the errors in that last game, but it was a good team effort,” said Kelly, whose team went 3-0 in the district tournament.

When asked if he expected to win the tournament, Kelly was as modest as possible in saying there were some good teams in the tournament, but he was confident the Verde Valley boys would get it done.

“You never know what’s going to happen in the 11’s tournament. Some leagues pull up all the 11-year-old kids to the 12’s team, and some keep them down,” Kelly said.

Verde Valley will take some time off before hitting the practice field once again in preparation for the Arizona Little League State Championships, scheduled to begin in Yuma on Monday, July 18.

Luke Simmons looks to throw to an open receiver downfield Saturday, June 25, at a seven-on-seven tournament in Sedona. The Mingus Union High School football team traveled to Sedona this past weekend to participate in a seven-on-seven football tournament, going 3-3.

A few days before the tournament, Mingus players were told longtime assistant coach and current interim Head Coach Neil Dixon would take the job and be the full-time head man in charge for the 2011 season.

On June 22, Mingus Athletic Director Mike Boysen officially announced the hire, stating he was pleased with Dixon and the job he’s done over the last 25-plus years as an assistant.

The seven-on-seven tournament Saturday, June 25, provided the first games for Dixon as the permanent head coach and he said the Marauders responded well.

Neil Dixon was named the next football head coach at Mingus Union High School on June 22. Dixon was named interim head coach after Bob Young resigned in May.“I’ve been doing all the summer stuff anyway, since I was the interim coach, and my response as an interim coach is probably the same as a head coach. I thought the boys played well and worked hard,” Dixon said after being asked how the team looked Saturday.

In the morning pool play games at Sedona Red Rock High School, Mingus defeated Chino Valley High School to start things off, 26-14. The Marauders turned around to defeat rival Camp Verde High School in game two, 31-21, to start 2-0 on the day.

The Marauders are scheduled to play Camp Verde in the last game of the season this fall, making for an interesting contest between the two football programs.

Mingus and Camp Verde haven’t locked horns against one another since 1988, when the Marauders won 41-7. Mingus is 7-0 against the Cowboys, with the first meeting coming in 1970 when the Marauders won, 20-8.

In game three Saturday, Mingus faced off against Snowflake High School, losing 26-25. Snowflake went 7-0 on the day, winning the tournament championship over Prescott High School, 39-14.

In game four, the Marauders lost to Prescott, 12-7. Former longtime Mingus Head Coach Bob Young stood on the Prescott sidelines against Mingus on Saturday, having tendered his resignation in May and taking the Badgers job.

After finishing the morning pool play games with a 2-2 record, Mingus earned the No. 4 seed after tieing Sedona and Camp Verde, which were each 2-2 as well. Mingus received the No. 4 seed in a tiebreaker, beating out Sedona [88] by a point in total points scored with 89.

Mingus went on to defeat Coconino High School in the first round of tournament play, 33-7, but ran into a buzz saw in Snowflake in the semifinals, 46-26.

“I told the kids before that today was a great opportunity for them to show us what they had,” Dixon said. “We had a few key guys missing so a lot of younger players got playing time which was good for them.”

Dixon said he was most impressed with senior Evan McFarland, who until this summer was known mostly for his catching ability behind the plate for the Marauders.

As for junior quarterback Luke Simmons, he started off strong, struggled in the middle, then finished strong, according to Dixon.

“Luke’s [Simmons] a young guy, and he struggled a bit in the middle of the day but toward the end he picked it up. We’ve got some young quarterbacks, but this will help them grow,” Dixon said.

Mingus still has a few seven-on-seven tournaments remaining this summer and will continue to hit the weight room before starting training camp Monday, Aug. 1.

The Cottonwood Club Swim team began its summer season just a few weeks ago, with nearly 115 kids signing up to compete in June and July.

Although the Clippers haven’t had a meet yet, second-year Head Coach Erin Estes believes her kids are ready.

Alison Bauers, 14, works on her breaststroke while swimming laps at the end of practice in the Cottonwood Community Pool on Tuesday.“They are excited. They’ve been working hard in the pool and their techniques have improved. We have a ton of kids out this summer and their hard work will soon pay off,” Estes said in an interview Tuesday, June 14.

The Clippers begin their season at the Payson Invitational on Saturday, June 18. After Payson, Cottonwood will have about a week to prepare for the Sedona Splash, which begins Saturday, June 25, and runs through Sunday, June 26.

It is the first two-day event for the Sedona Club Swim team, since the city wrapped up its new pool project in May. Sedona now has eight competition lanes with starting blocks, timing pads and enough deck space for several teams and their fans.

After Sedona, the Clippers travel to Kingman to participate in the Kingman Invitational on Saturday, July 9. Cottonwood will be in Prescott on Saturday, July 16, for the Prescott Mountain Splash.

Estes reported some of the swimmers for Cottonwood will also be in Kingman on July 16 for the Kingman U.S.A. Swim.

Cottonwood winds down the summer schedule with a mile swim fundraiser Monday through Wednesday, July 18 to 20, and wraps up by hosting the Verde Valley Invitational on Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30.

“We’ve got plenty to do this summer and we’re all excited to see how it goes,” Estes said.

Some of the top swimmers for the Clippers this summer include 17-year-old Collin Mount, who is a solid individual medley swimmer, while 16-year-old Ryan Adams is a beast in the 100-meter breaststroke and freestyle events.

Dylan Wilber, 15, has a goal this summer to have a sub 1-minute time in the 100-meter breaststroke while 13-year-old Shawn Williams is going to be an excellent 50- and 100-meter butterfly swimmer.

“These kids are all good. They all are individual medley swimmers, making them well rounded in the pool,” Estes said.

For the girls, 16-year-old Shannon Knowles, also known as “Cannon” by her teammates, is good in the butterfly and breaststroke events while 17-year-old Daniele Castillo is solid in the freestyle.

As for 17-year-old Kyla Furey, she splits her time in the pool and with the whistle as a student coach.

Mikiel Block, 17, sucks in a quick lungful of air between butterfly strokes while practicing with other Clippers team members Tuesday, June 14. With over 100 kids in the pool, the Clippers have four separate teams this summer: the “A” team, the “B” team, the “C” team and the “A-Prep” team, which is for the very young swimmers learning what it’s like to be in the program.

“The A-Prep team has worked out great for us. It’s new, and we use it to show kids what it’s like to be on the A team,” Estes said.

For the Clippers, the Verde Valley Invitational is probably the most important meet of the summer, according to Estes. All of the other meets work up to one big one at the end of July and this summer, the Clippers want to win the title.

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