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From championship to job casualties in Scottsdale district

Posted by on April 19, 2013 – 6:41 pm

Before a crowded gym and school assembly, Saguaro girls basketball coach Chris Young helped his Division II state champion Sabercats raise a championship banner, and lost his teaching job on the same day.

Though many teachers and staff knew it was coming, Friday was surreal day around the Scottsdale Unified School District, as RIFT notices for the 2013-2014 school year went out to employees.

Besides Young, who is finishing his seventh year in the district, Sabercats football coach Jason Mohns (a first-year physical education teacher) and first-year Desert Mountain baseball coach Brian Stephenson was among them.

This stems largely from the budget override proposal which failed by a wide margin in November.

Mohns said he plans to keep coaching at Saguaro (spring football starts at the end of this month), but Stephenson’s future isn’t known, and the looming budget pitfalls were a significant reason why Desert Mountain boys basketball coach Todd Fazio left for Red Mountain.

Neither is Young’s, who not only helped lead the Sabercats to the school’s first girls basketball state championship in 2012-2013 and a quarterfinals appearance in 2011-2012, but return all but two players in pursuit of a “repeat” next year.

Young, like many others, had an inkling they might be on the short list. So he held a team meeting two weeks ago and told a few parents about the possibility he’d lose his teaching job. He said four of the five physical education teachers at Saguaro received letters.

“It’s like a waiting game and be patient right now,” he said. “It seems like things are changing every day, so it’s hard to predict.  I do feel they’re going to try and hire as many back as they can. It’s a waiting game, but I’m not going to sit on my hands and expect them to do something.  I have to pay bills and keep my eyes open.”

Young said the odds of him returning as Saguaro’s coach aren’t likely without a teaching job at the school, largely due to scheduling and accommodations that are often long and awkward hours coaching requires.

“It’d have to be a really good fit,” he said. “It’s not an easy thing to work around.”

Similar to other teachers and coaches in the district, there’s a chance some jobs could be re-instated, and Young said Saguaro “is 100 percent behind me and has been really good.” He was told one of his players wrote a letter to district superintendent Dr. David Peterson.

That, combined with the girls returning to next year’s basketball program, are two major reasons coaching elsewhere would be weird, let alone unwelcome.

“I’m not the type of person who likes to sit around,” Young said. ” I want to be in a good situation, and that was here. I’m hopeful.”


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