AIA365 Staff Insiders


AIA365 Staff | Students

Xavier volleyball star Khalia Lanier makes commitment to USC

Jul 21, 2014, by Don Ketchum, Staff Writer,

Phoenix Xavier Prep’s Khalia Lanier, one of the nation’s most powerful outside hitters in volleyball, has two seasons left in her prep career, but the junior-to-be already has a college commitment.

According to’s Richard Obert, Lanier will play for USC after considering a number of other schools, including Stanford and Texas.

The 6-foot-2 Lanier led Xavier to the Division I state title last season, including an upset of powerful Phoenix Horizon in the semifinals. She is the daughter of long-time NBA star Bob Lanier.

Read More

Update: Services for Agua Fria's Wayne DesCombes on Monday

Jul 18, 2014, by Don Ketchum, Staff Writer,

Sad news on a summer day . . .

Phoenix Brophy Prep baseball coach Tom Succow reports that long-time Avondale Agua Fria baseball coach Wayne DesCombes passed away on Thursday night (July 17) after having cancer surgery earlier this month.

DesCombes won state championships in 1974 and 1983 and his teams finished as state runner-up in 1971 and 1992.

He coached numerous high-quality players such as pitchers Ray Murillo and Roy Samaniego and infielder Shawn Gilbert. The latter went on to play in the major leagues.

“The most instrumental guy in guiding my career was Wayne DesCombes,’’ Murillo told the West Valley View in 2011. “He put you in leagues, pushed you to be the best you could be.’’

I remember DesCombes as a friendly, easygoing guy who also had a tough side. His teams would battle you down to the final out.

“Wayne was a great coach but an even better person,’’ Succow said. “Arizona high school athletics lost a man who was a model for those of us who are still coaching. Wayne was a friend and mentor to many.’’

A viewing for DesCombes will be held at Agua Fria's O.K. Fulton Gymnasium in Avondale (530 E. Riley Dr.) at 10 a.m. on Monday (July 21), with services beginning at 11 a.m.



Read More

Fairfax AD Belcher passes football torch to Winemiller

Jul 16, 2014, by Don Ketchum, Staff Writer,

Interim football coach Dylan Winemiller has had the “interim’’ tag removed and now is the official field boss for the program at Betty H. Fairfax in Laveen.

Winemiller, who has guided the team through summer drills, replaces Kevin Belcher, who was promoted to the athletic director’s post at Fairfax. Winemiller has been on the football staff at Fairfax for six seasons, the last three as defensive coordinator. Winemiller also is the head track coach at Fairfax and was head football coach at North High in Phoenix.

Belcher said Winemiller and the program will continue to be a good fit, and his decisions always have been made based on the best interests of the student-athletes. He will continue in his role as a faculty member at Fairfax.

Winemiller said he will continue to devote his energies “to build a program that is second to none. The program will be highly organized and well-run. It will be a productive, positive component of the school and the local community. Discipline and effort will be stressed. Through hard work and discipline, the student-athletes will develop a great sense of pride in becoming good citizens, good students and good athletes. It is our goal to see that each and every one of our players is successful, not just in the game of football, but in the game of life.’’

The team leaves for its pre-season camp this week and will return soon after to begin preparations for the 2014 regular season.

Read More

North hopes hiring of Busken will translate into FB fortune

Jul 14, 2014, by Don Ketchum, Staff Writer,

Phoenix’s North High pulled a big surprise on Monday morning (July 14) by announcing that former Mesa Mountain View and Chandler Basha football coach Bernie Busken will be its new coach.

Busken led three state-championship teams at Mountain View and coached at Basha the last four seasons.

It is a bold move for North, which has struggled for quite some time on the football field, as have its fellow schools in the Phoenix Union High School District.

And it is an interesting move for Busken. If he was looking for a new challenge, he certainly has found it. Perhaps he can become the Valley’s version of Jeff Scurran, who has done a great job turning around struggling programs in the Tucson area.

Hopefully Busken can mold the Mustangs into a playoff team, and that that success will increase athletes’ interest in playing football at North. The school has had success in basketball and in track, so there’s no reason why it can’t do so in football.

Read More

A Message from AIA Executive Board President Doug Wilson

Jul 4, 2014, by Jose Garcia, Multimedia Journalist/Historian


PHOENIX, AZ (July 4, 2014) – On June 11, Harold Slemmer and I sent out a memorandum to our member schools regarding the need to raise certain AIA fees in order to maintain interscholastic sports/activities for our state’s high schools. This was done in conjunction with expense and overhead reductions within AIA overhead and tournament operations.

Discussion among board members began in April of this year. There is often commentary and media attention after a decision by the Executive Board is made. Mr. Schmidt speaks on behalf of the Association per the direction of the Board. The Board has and continues to support Mr. Schmidt, his efforts and trust in responding to the media. Often this commentary seems to be made missing some important facts.

The Executive Board is comprised of representatives from Arizona member schools. Board meetings are open and meeting minutes are available to its member schools and the public. Member schools must realize that they are always invited to participate and share opinions. Having said that, as a member association, the organization must be run efficiently which is why member representatives vote on behalf of their constituents. No decision or action will ever unanimously please member schools and yet, decisions and actions are thought through to create the best possible outcomes.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) provides an important educational opportunity and life experience to Arizona high school students. Interscholastic programs including personnel and venues require funding. The AIA runs more than 4,000 High School Championship events and provides officials for more than 40,000 regular season games. Along with scholarships, education like Brainbook and ongoing training, the AIA is providing valuable services to its member schools and more importantly, the nearly 100,000 students involved in interscholastic activities. These services have hard costs associated with them. As a non-profit, the AIA is not attempting to create a profit and makes every effort to cut costs, negotiate with vendors and reduce expenses. To suggest otherwise, is simply to create unnecessary fodder and angst.

As the President of the AIA Executive Board, I invite all member schools to engage in a positive and meaningful way that demonstrates that this is an association of member schools striving for the best possible interscholastic opportunities for our students. I also want to admonish members of the press and the public to refrain from placing blame on individuals when in fact, they are speaking on behalf of the Executive Board representing its member schools.

About the Arizona Interscholastic Association:

The AIA, is voluntary association of public and private Arizona high schools. Since 1913, the organization has created and sustained interscholastic activities that encourage maximum student participation by providing AIA member schools with an even playing field to ensure fair and equitable competition. The AIA believes that providing interscholastic activities for Arizona high school students creates personal development opportunities with a balanced focus on academics and extracurricular activities.

Through its member schools, the AIA reaches nearly 100,000 participants in high school activity programs. The organization hosts 4,000 championship contests and maintains officiating for more than 45,000 regular season games.

Read More

Relieved Brophy FB team sets sights on Sollenberger Classic

Jul 3, 2014, by Don Ketchum, Staff Writer,

Two blocks. That’s all.

That’s all that separated Phoenix Brophy Prep and disaster earlier this summer.

The now-infamous Slide Fire weaved its way up Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona and stopped two blocks from the camp named Manresa, used by the school for spiritual, academic and staff retreats.

It also is where the school’s football team holds its preseason camp.

Had the fire continued, “It would have been bad for a lot of reasons,’’ said a thankful and relieved Brophy football coach Scooter Molander.

After a busy June in which the Broncos competed in several seven-on-seven passing competitions, including one against varied opponents on Tuesday nights at the artificial-turf soccer field on the Brophy Sports Campus, the team will have most of July off.

Then it will report to Manresa on July 26 and have two days of preparations as it makes its way toward Aug. 22, when it opens its 2014 season. Brophy will play in the annual Sollenberger Classic, a tribute to late Arizona Interscholastic Association historian Barry Sollenbeger.

Brophy will face 2013 Nevada big-school champion Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas on Gorman’s home field. The next night, on Aug. 23, Arizona’s Division I defending champion, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, will meet Nevada state runner-up Reed High.

Of his team’s play in the summer, Molander said, “We improved a lot, and came out of it fairly healthy.’’

Perhaps the most notable health news involves senior-to-be Jack Haddon, a hard-hitting defensive back and running back. Haddon missed virtually all of last season with a knee injury.

Other key returnees are senior defensive back Isaiah Oliver, junior defensive end Connor Murphy and junior all-purpose player Ryan Velez.

Molander said the Broncos looked good in spring ball. The summer began in somewhat shaky fashion, but they kept improving.

“We were able to put in some of our offensive schemes, and our defense made progress,’’ Molander said. Linemen do not participate in the passing drills, but have their own strength and conditioning program.

The summer also offers a chance “to adapt and adjust’’ to what opponents do, Molander said.

“When you get down, how do you respond?’’ he said. “Also, why did we do certain things we were supposed to, and why didn’t we?’’

In recent years, Brophy has had one of the toughest schedules in the state, and this fall will offer more of the same. In addition to Bishop Gorman, the Broncos will be tested by Mountain Pointe, perennial power Chandler Hamilton, Peoria Centennial, Scottsdale Chaparral, Phoenix Desert Vista, Mesa Desert Ridge, Scottsdale Desert Mountain, Mesa Red Mountain, Tempe Corona del Sol and Mesa Dobson.



Read More