Year that was: the top five January developments in southern Arizona

Most notable developments for January 2021


Rich Alday (Andy Morales /

Legendary Pima Baseball and Ironwood Ridge Softball Coach Rich Alday died on January 6 at the age of 71. Alday closed his Pima career with a record 517-251 in 17 seasons when he retired in 2018. He coached the Aztecs for 16 seasons, from 1974 to 1989, before returning in 2017 aspiring to clinch his 500th. career victory with Pima. Alday coached in New Mexico for 18 seasons, becoming the Lobos’ most successful coach, recording 515 wins. He finished with a total of 1,032 victories during his college career. Alday was also the Ironwood Ridge High School softball coach from 2014 to 2017. He coached this team at the state championships in 2014 and 2016. His record was 107-33.’s Andy Morales wrote of Alday: “Without exception, his many friends and former players will use the words ‘decent’ and ‘good guy’ to describe him. I can’t think of another sports figure, or whatever, in the area. from Tucson to have that kind of loving follow-up. All kind words for such a kind man. A celebration of Alday’s life was held on October 10 at the Sheraton El Conquistador and in attendance were his wife Norma, family, friends longtime and former players in Pima, NM and Ironwood Ridge. Alday’s brother Sammy, a former Tucson High and Pima baseball player who went on to coach the Sunnyside softball team, died eight days after his brother Rich on Jan. 14. Sammy performed for Rich in Pima. He was a teacher in the Sunnyside Unified School District and a local disc jockey for over 30 years.


Ismael Arce (Andy Morales /

Former Tucson High School Boys Football Coach Ishmael Arce, who led the Badgers to the 2014 state title, died of COVID-19 on January 28. Andy Morales wrote of Arce, who was also a longtime social studies professor: “Arce was a beloved teacher who held firmly to his belief in making a better society today by teaching the evils of the world. pass. He taught on issues such as the Holocaust and how the horrors of that past are reflected in society today. The Badgers were 24-0-3 in 2014. Forward Julian Gaona scored 32 goals. A 3-0 victory over Glendale Copper Canyon in the Division II championship game secured the program’s first championship. It was also the first state title in any sport at Tucson High since 1988.


Marana’s goalie Gabriella Salazar (Andy Morales /

The Arizona Interscholastic Association executive board canceled winter sports on Jan.8 following a recommendation from its health safety board due to COVID-19 transmission issues. Boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls wrestling seemed to be lost for the school year. However, on January 12, the board reversed its decision after public backlash over the cancellation. Winter sports would continue, but with restrictions such as the use of face masks for all competitions and only two parents or guardians allowed for the home team.


Pat Nugent (Javier Morales /

The news broke on January 5 Pat nugent hire as the head football coach at Mica Mountain, a high school in the Vail School District which will play its first college season in 2021. Nugent posted a 48-14 record at Cienega and led the Bobcats to back-to-back appearances in the Class 5A playoffs from 2016 to 2019. Dennis bene, who trained his alma mater Salpointe to a state title in 2013, withdrew his name from consideration for the position of Cienega on January 27.


Jedd Fisch (Arizona Athletics photo)

Arizona’s New Football Coach Jedd Fisch, hired in December 2020, completed his football staff in early January. After hiring Ricky hunley (defensive line coach) and Chuck cecil (defensive back coach) in December, he hired Brennan Carroll, Pete Carroll son, as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach on New Years Day. Fisch rounded out his offensive squad on January 4 with Brennan Carroll, quarterback coach and passing coordinator Jimmie dougherty, running back coach Scottie graham, tight ends trainer Jordan Paopao and trainer of large receivers Kevin cummings. Fisch hired co-defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker January 6, defensive coordinator Don brown January 7, linebacker coach Keith Dudzinski January 12 and strength and conditioning trainer Tyler owens January 13. Former Desert Swarm Security Officer and successful Pueblo trainer Brandon sanders was hired by Fisch on January 20 as co-ordinator of relations with football alumni and high schools. Brown moved to UMass to be the head coach in November. Dudzinski went with him to be the defensive coordinator on December 16.

NEXT: A Look At The Top Five Developments From February 2021

CLICK ON THIS LINK for a complete overview of the major developments for January 2021 in southern Arizona

TO FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor-in-chief Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, most notably when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News, and Baseball America, among many other publications. He is also the author of the book “The highest form of life”, which is available on Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is currently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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