New year, new coach, new hopes

Former Marcos de Niza graduate Spencer Waggoner is named McClintock High’s new football coach starting in the 2015 season. [Photo Billy Hardiman/Wrangler News]
By Diana Whittle
As the new head football coach at McClintock High School, Spencer Waggoner’s goal in the New Year is to bring a winning tradition back to the A+ rated school in Tempe. And, given his achievements as a former student athlete, Waggoner knows first-hand the formula for personal success. He’s also no stranger to McClintock students and faculty. In 2013, Waggoner coached the football team’s defensive backs, was named head soccer coach, and led the soccer team to a Division II Section Championship. In addition to his new role, he’ll continue as McClintock’s head soccer coach and will teach special education. “I want to make sure that the team wins the right way,” said Waggoner. “To build a championship program takes time and demands that the players compete with each other with respect and integrity.” Early in life, the Arizona native developed a love of sports and a competitive spirit. As part of a large family with nine siblings, including seven older brothers, he quickly learned some important lessons in life. “I discovered that nothing will ever come to you easily and that you must remain committed to completing the job,” said Waggoner. “It’s critical to dig through adverse situations and not quit when the going gets tough.” His personal pride is evident as he talks about his mother, Dorothy, whose strong desire for her children to receive an excellent education led her to drive them to Tempe to attend school. The family was living in south Phoenix and his mother wanted a different educational environment for her children. Eventually the family moved to Tempe and Waggoner graduated from Marcos de Niza High School, where he displayed his athletic prowess by participating in five sports. It was a different time, he recalls, and student athletes were encouraged to train for multiple sports. His passion in high school was basketball, and he excelled at soccer, but it was the persistence of the school’s football coach, David Givens, who convinced him to try out for the football team—although he had never before played an organized game of football. He found his calling in the sport and went on to to receive scholarship offers from several schools. He accepted the one from Utah State and played on the football team there as a defensive back. Waggoner was a three-year letter winner from 1994- 96 and member of two conference championship teams. Academically, he graduated cum laude from Utah with a degree in physical education. He first thought he wanted to be a child psychologist— to help underprivileged kids navigate out of the tough situations that life had handed them, but discovered that by working with special needs students he could accomplish more in the classroom. Later he earned two masters degrees from Northern Arizona University—one in special education, another in educational leadership. He is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in Special Education through Walden University. Out of his large family, both he and his sister, Schavon became educators. “My sister is now the principal of the Betty Fairfax High School in Laveen. She earned her PhD more quickly than me, but I still have more degrees than she does,” he jokes. As a parent of six children, including a newborn daughter, he strives to be a lifelong learner as an example to his family. In the classroom, Waggoner works to know the students individually and stresses to those who participate in sports, they also must continue to pay attention to academics. “Our focus is to help students to set goals and to give them the tools to achieve their personal best. I have done some motivational speaking and developed a formula I call CARR, which stands for Choice, Attitude, Respect, Responsibility—these are the attributes I try to pass along to students.” McClintock High School recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and Waggoner is pleased to be back in his hometown school district. “I love Tempe Union and I am blessed, to say the least.” said Waggoner. “It is a true pleasure to have the opportunity to give back to the district I am a product of, not only to coach the sports I loved and played myself, but to influence the lives of youth.”

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