The defeat of the AIA transfer rule in early March has been deemed by many of the sports writers in the state as one of the biggest stunners of 2012-13, along with Corona’s boys basketball team repeating as state champions.
The Aztecs were not touted as favorites to repeat this past season after losing shooting guard Caleb Robinson and their big guys in the paint, Andrus Peat and Avery Moss, to graduation. But repeat they did.
The new transfer rule, modeled after a rule implemented by the Ohio High School Scholastic Association that enforced a year of being ineligible for anyone who transfers to a school within a 50-mile radius, was thought to be a slam dunk when it was first proposed about a year ago. But the transfer rule, when it finally made it into the agenda, was voted down by one vote.
The rule, tabled for the 2012 September meeting, made it on the agenda for the March 2013 Arizona Interscholastic Association meeting. One of the problems pondered by the 39 out of 45 administrators, athletic directors and board members on the Legislative Counsel, who attended the meeting in March, was the distance requirement.
“Given the time we had to consider the proposal, for some people, 50 miles was too much and for others, the 50 miles was not enough,” said Corona’s athletic director Dan Nero. “Out in the rural areas 50 miles to drive to school had a different meaning than 50 miles in the city, for instance.”
According to some sports writers, too much time to ponder the proposed new transfer rule may have been more of a reason why it did not pass than the distance requirement.
Regardless, the problems with athletes transferring to other schools within the state via a loophole in the current transfer rule has been documented and debated for years. Some administrators and coaches go so far as to see it as a shift in the balance of power to a select group of schools which ultimately weakens others. Also what used to be an urban city problem has been spreading to the rural areas.
Either way, it appears most people privately, and some publically, see the ability for athletes in Arizona to become immediately eligible at a new school if he or she moves into the new school’s attendance boundary zone as flawed and out of control. The problem now may be how to publically do something about it.
Corona Athletic Scholarships — Corona’s class of 2013 had 23 student athletes receive scholarships to play sports at a college and university.
Josh Ethier, who felt like he had been preparing himself his whole life to play baseball at the next level, committed to play at Grand Canyon University last fall.
“It was important to me to go to a DI program,” said Ethier. “GCU was pretty persistent following up with me weekly and always checking in. It was a huge benefit for me to choose a university where the head coach had played my same position at every level which coach Stankiewicz has done. Who better to learn from?”
Ethier also admits that playing close to home so his family and friends could attend his games and that the Antelopes have a 10-day tournament scheduled in Hawaii in March figured into his decision.
Ethier, who played middle infield most of his high school career, is willing to play any position, such as third or in the outfield, to help his new team be successful.
“I hope to bring my strong work ethic, my defense, my competitiveness and my desire to win my GCU team every day,” said Ethier. “I have strong leadership skills and a good knowledge of the game that I can use to help my team win games.”
Ethier also has a new appreciation for the game of baseball after breaking his hand this past high school season and missing 12 games due to injury.
“Missing 12 games in a high school season is huge,” said Ethier. “It is probably the worst thing that has ever happened to me but I think I grew as a baseball player.”
“Being on the bench for the first time in my high school career, I saw the game in a different role,” said Ethier. “I would not say that I took baseball for granted, but I have a new sense of appreciation every time I stop on the field.”
“It’s like ‘Yea, I get to play baseball today!”
Aztec long distance cross country and track athlete Jake Whitney committed in February to become one of Union University’s scholarship student athletes. He will be running on the Bulldogs cross country team.
Union University, located in Jackson, Tenn., was attractive to Whitney over the other schools that recruited him because of the quality of the school and the athletic program recently moved divisions.
“First, Union University is an excellent academic school where I can get a good education in my area of interest, biology or chemistry,” said Whitney. “Secondly, they offered me a great scholarship. Lastly, I think I can be an immediate contributor and hopefully a leader in their program which recently moved up from NAIA to Division II.”
Whitney should know something about being a good leader after already being awarded, by his teammate’s votes, the Joe Sellah Award for his attitude, sportsmanship, work ethic and leadership not once but three times in his four years running both varsity cross country and track at Corona.
Whitney, who holds Corona’s freshman record setting time of 10.06 in the 3200 meter run, is a hard-working, disciplined and competitive athlete. He is assured that the Corona track coaches have done an excellent job of preparing him to compete at the next level.
“Jake has been a top runner for Corona all four years he’s been here, in both cross country and track,” said coach Ari Rodriguez. “I have no doubt he will do the same and more at Union.”
Whitney was named Corona del Sol Boys Athlete of the Year as a senior.
Corona’s award-winning long distance runner Hallie Swenson accepted in early January an athletic scholarship to run track and field and cross country at Point Loma Nazarene University.
Swenson ran both varsity cross country and track all four years at Corona winning several awards including Cross Country Newcomer of the Year and Track Freshman MVP as a freshman and Cross Country Most Valuable Runner as both a junior and a senior.
Similar to Whitney, her track teammates voted her to receive the Joe Sellah Award in 2013 and she was also named Corona del Sol 2013 Girls Athlete of the Year.
Recruited by Baylor, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, University of Portland and Texas A & M, Corpus Christi, to name a few, Swenson chose Point Loma Nazarene because they wanted her for more than her athletic ability.
“Unlike the other universities who were recruiting me,” said Swenson, “the coaches at Point Loma made me feel like they really wanted me to attend the school not only for their athletic program but to become part of the entire community. They are building a running program and asked me to help them.”
Swenson should be able to help Point Lomas build that program after her storied running career at Corona. She broke Corona’s 800 meter record by running it in 2:15.85 and was part of two school record breaking relay teams: the 4×400 with the record breaking time of 4:00.32 and the 4×800 record breaking time of 9:38.6.
“Hallie brings a very wide range of talents by being able to run anywhere from the 400 meters to 5000 meters,” said assistant coach Ari Rodriguez. “Not many runners have both the speed and the endurance. She definitely has what it takes to excel at the next level.”
Swenson, who plans on majoring in International Business, is somewhat nervous but also excited about joining her new team.
“I am most competitive in track running solo but I also working together as a team,” said Swenson. “I will miss all of my current relay partners and teammates but I am ready for a fresh start in the next chapter of my life. I hope to be a supportive teammate at Point Loma and help my new team have a very successful and competitive year.”
Swenson will undoubtedly miss her younger sister, Mason, who pushed her all season in practice and always seemed to finish most races right on her heels.