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Queen Creek Graduation 2014 Edition

Three of the four 2014 valedictorians for Queen Creek.

Andrew Luberda| Ledger


FREE: Take one ... we won’t stop you! Really. It’s yours if you want it!

Queen Creek names four valedictorians for 2014 Page 6

Volume 2 Number 40

Building community connections in San Tan Valley and Queen Creek

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2 | Southeast Valley Ledger May

14, 2014

OBITUARIES Beverley Joann Lancaster Beverley Joann Lancaster, 80, of Queen Creek, Ariz. passed away May 3, 2014 in Queen Creek. She is survived by her husband, Dafton Lancaster, daughter Karen (Bill) Bontrager, grandchildren Rick Nealy, Jr. (Aimee), Justin Nealy (Kelli), Lee Ann Bontrager and six great-grandchildren, sisters Sharon (Fred) Bray of Queen Creek, Phyllis (Kenny) Blankenship of Cottonwood, Loretta Callahan of Kingman, Nancy Bland of Carthage, Tx, Tommie (Rick) Simonson of Gary, Tx and brother Bill Bland of Kingman. She was preceded in death by daughter Brenda Nealy, parents A.T. and Fern Bland of Wikieup, sisters Shirley Young, Sandra Heath and brothers Stanley and Marvin Bland.

Beverley was a second generation Arizonan and raised on a ranch in Signal, Ariz. She was a lifelong homemaker, accomplished dancer, talented crocheter and avid collector of antiques. Visitation was held at San Tan Mountain View Funeral Home, 21809 S. Ellsworth Rd., Queen Creek, Ariz. 85142, 480888-2682, on Saturday, May 10, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. with the Funeral Service immediately following at 11 a.m.

Sophie C. McIlwain, 85, born April 30, 1929 in Pueblo, Colorado left to be with Jesus on May 6, 2014. She is survived by her seven children, Pat Tuttle (Bill) of Gilbert, Ariz., Bill Robles Jr. (Louise) of Pueblo, Colorado, Linda Herrera of Fairfield, Calif., Kathleen Hunter (Terry) of Florence, Ariz., Brenda Robles of Avondale, Ariz., John Robles (Linda) of Vacaville, Calif., and Louis Robles (Sandra) of Chula Vista, Calif.; brothers Joe Diaz of Pueblo, Colorado, Leo Diaz (Hope) of Pueblo, Colorado, Richard Diaz of Abilene, Texas and sister Irene Carillo (Fred) of Northglenn, Colorado. Sophie has 18 grandchildren, 16 greatgrandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. Numerous loving nieces and nephews, who lives she touched ever so deeply. She was preceded in death by her parents Conception and Leo Diaz, brothers Luther, Manual, and Joaquin, sisters Elaine Cruz and Vera Apodaca and son-in-law Paul Herrera.

Sophie was a licensed Psychiatric Technician in the state of Colorado and California, and a certified Physical Therapist Assistant. Sophie retired from the state of California in 1991. She moved to Arizona in 2005. She enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, shopping at Wal-Mart, and having dinner at Denny’s. She taught her daughters to be strong and independent, her sons to be caring and kind husbands, her grandchildren to sing songs, love music, and to be happy, and encouraged them to be creative and loved them. She taught them “sometimes life was going to be hard but in the end everything will be all right.” Services for Sophie were held on May 12, 2014 at San Tan Mountain View Funeral Home, in Queen Creek, Ariz. 21809 S Ellsworth Rd. with a reception following.

Sophie C. McIlwain

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May 14, 2014

Southeast Valley Ledger

LETTER TO THE EDITOR George Johnson, Mayor Rankin good friends? George Johnson certainly has a good friend in Mayor Tom Rankin. I wish I had a friend who would commit his family to buy my home at far more than it’s worth, let me live there and pay me a huge salary, agree to pay for anything that went wrong, and take on any liability.  Not to mention that I would lend the money, and my friend would make his family pay me back at twice the market interest rate, even though some family members pointed out how ridiculous – and dangerous – this setup is.   This is the arrangement with the sale of Johnson Utilities to the Town of Florence.  Some decisionmakers seem to be blindly going along with Mayor Rankin without realizing the tremendous debt they are taking on, how many extra millions they are needlessly paying, and who, exactly, is going to be calling the shots.  JU is stalling in providing due diligence

documents. So, the Town hasn’t even looked under the hood and yet some are

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SOUTHEAST VALLEY LEDGER James Carnes….........Publisher Michael Carnes......General Manager Jennifer Carnes......…Managing Editor Mila Besich Lira.......Advertising Director Andrew Luberda................Reporter Bridgette Crosby.................Reporter Courtney Trumbull........Office Manager


willing to buy the product sight unseen. Wow.  /s/ Candice Steelman

Superior Arboretum 199 W. Gray Drive Superior, AZ 85173 Call Today!

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Submission of News and Opinions, please email: To Advertise, please email: or call: (480) 745-1055

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Published each Wednesday at 22308 S. Ellsworth Road, Queen Creek, AZ 85142 by Copper Area News Publishers. Mailing address is Southeast Valley Ledger, c/o Copper Area News Publishers, PO Box 579, Kearny, AZ 85137.

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Telephone (480) 745-1055



Schnepf Farms Peach Festival

The 20th annual Peach Festival! Celebrating 50 years of growing peaches in Arizona! There will be hay rides to the orchards, live music, train rides, carousel rides and more, Peachy Pancake breakfast, Peachy Sampling Pavilion with food ranging from sweets to salsas, water activities, peachy arts and crafts booths, peach pies, peach cinnamon rolls, peach cookies, peach cobbler and more. This event runs May 10, 11, 17 and 18 from 7:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. For more information please visit event/peach-festival/


Saguaro Blossoms at San Tan Mountain Regional Park

Why does the saguaro cactus have beautiful white blossoms? Why does each bud open for one night only? What are the pollinators of the mighty saguaro? Join us for a 1-mile jaunt along the Moonlight Trail in search of the “jolly green giant of the desert” and it’s gorgeous flowers. Please bring water, sunscreen and comfortable hiking attire. Meet at the Flag Pole. This event starts at 8:00 a.m. for more information please visit EventsDetailPublishers.


Movie Madness at San Tan Mountain Regional Park

Enjoy a movie inside the air conditioned Nature Center: Milo, the cat, and Otis, the dog, are two animals who grew up together on the same farm. One day, the two are separated and begin a journey to find each other. The adventurous and often perilous quest finds the two animals traveling across mountains, plains, and snow-covered lands searching for one another. Bring a brown-bag dinner or snacks. Curl up in the chair or on the floor with a blanket and pillow. This event starts at 7 p.m. For more information please visit parks/santan/default.aspx.


Butterfly Walk at the Arboretum

Jan Harding leads the season debut Butterfly Walk - a chance to see, photograph and learn about colorful butterfly species ranging from Empress Leilia to Queen, Spring Azure and more; on a relaxed and slow-moving walk that explores the HummingbirdButterfly Garden, Demonstration Garden and Children's Garden collections. Temperatures spike in May; wear a widebrimmed hat and sunscreen, carry water and stay hydrated. This event starts at 8:30 a.m. For more information please visit


Edible & Medicinal Desert Plants Walk

Explore the Arboretum’s Curandero Trail on this slow-paced guided walking tour, a one-hour walk where ethno-botanist and Choctaw Nation expert guide Dave Morris shares his knowledge about the ways native plants have fed, healed and clothed Sonoran desert peoples for more than one thousand years. This event starts at 8 a.m. For more information please visit http:// html.


Stargazing at San Tan Mountain Regional Park

Come watch the sky with us! Look through telescopes (setup for your viewing pleasure) and enjoy a slide presentation under the stars. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for your comfort. Information about the Challenger Learning Center of Arizona will be provided. Come alone or bring your entire family or group. Bring your binoculars or family telescope and enjoy the views from San Tan Mountain Regional Park. This event starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information please visit default.aspx.


4 | Southeast Valley Ledger May

14, 2014

San Tan Valley family raising funds to bring long-lost brother home to Arizona By James Hodl Southeast Valley Ledger

Christopher Ellis served his country in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A family reunion 28 years in the making will occur as soon as the necessary funds are raised to bring Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran Christopher Hector Sandoval Ellis back to his native Arizona. And you can help make it happen by attending a charity car wash next Saturday in San Tan Valley. According to his sister, Mary Ann Sandoval Chavez, she last saw Christopher in 1986 when he was three years old and family health problems prompted Child Family Services (CFS) to break up the then Mesa-based family. Since then, Chavez only knew that Ellis was adopted by a family in 1991, as CFS waited until they could place him with parents of his same biracial makeup (Mexican and African-American). But his family continued to search for Christopher, most recently using the internet and posting a Facebook page Looking4.Christopher.Sandoval. The effort recently paid off when Chavez was notified through a missing person website that Ellis was in Kalamazoo, MI. “My family and I are excited to have found Christopher and can’t wait until we are reunited,” said Chavez, currently residents of San Tan Valley and the Circle Cross

The whole family, c. 1986. Ranch subdivision. “Christopher had a great career as a U.S. Marine, serving with the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, Division Schools for 1st Marine Division. He took part in the First Battle of Fallujah in Afghanistan and later served tours of duty in Iraq,” she added. “He is currently a student in Michigan, building a new Continued on Page 13

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May 14, 2014

Southeast Valley Ledger

Momentary inconvenience to give way to quicker and safer Hunt Highway commute


By James Hodl Southeast Valley Ledger Call it growing pains. And for some San Tan Valley residents who use Hunt Highway to get to their jobs either north into Queen Creek and elsewhere in Maricopa County, or south to the Florence or Coolidge area, the construction work to widen the one-time rural road has been painful. But since the project began late last year, drivers who regularly use Hunt report the commute is getting better – at least until the second phase of construction begins later this year. “Phase One of the Hunt Highway reconstruction is 55% completed as of May 1,” said Celeste Pemberton, project manager with the Pinal County Public Works Department. The work between Empire Boulevard and Thompson Road should be completed by August, though at the current rate of progress it could wrap up earlier, she added. Phase Two reconstruction between Thompson Road and Gary Road will begin in November, now that Johnson Utilities completed its work replacing a reclaimed water pipe line between Village Lane and Stone Creek Drive in April, Pemberton said. As with all road reconstruction projects, drivers faced detours and reduced speed (only 25 mph!) in construction areas. At the beginning of the Johnson Utilities project, left turns from Hunt Highway to Gary Road were briefly banned, causing drivers to seek alternative ways to get onto Hunt to complete their commute. Pinal Public Works recommended using Village Lane and Mountain Vista Boulevard as alternate routes. As drivers adjusted to construction-related changes, the area around the Hunt Highway-Gary Road intersection saw a big increase in traffic accidents. While there were only five accidents – all but one fender benders – in all of 2013; the intersection saw 11 accidents, two involving minor injuries and one requiring an ambulance, occur between January 11 and March 21, 2014. All but one occurred during the evening rush hour. But things have quieted down since then. “Traffic is less congested since the installation of traffic signals at the intersection of Gary Road and Empire Boulevard, thus opening Empire for use as an efficient alternative route,” said Collin Kelly, a resident of the Rancho Bella Vista subdivision in San Tan Valley. “It took away some of the traffic that was flowing through the Hunt-Gary intersection.” For those who passed through Hunt-Gary as part of their morning and evening commutes, traffic was not only initially heavier but a bit more dangerous, Kelly noted. You had the inpatient drivers trying to make up time after slowing down through construction areas. And there were the drivers just getting to know their new routes and places to turn. He theorized that some accidents were caused by drivers trying to make sudden lane changes to avoid missing a necessary turn they didn’t see coming. “I once or twice got stalled in traffic behind accidents on my way home,” Kelly admitted. Belinda Longo, resident of Johnson Ranch in San Tan Valley, noted that you could avoid the worst traffic by planning ahead. “Traffic in the Phase One construction area was slowest in midafternoon when parents picking up their children at schools

off Hunt Highway clogged the road,” she said. Both Longo and Kelly agreed that the delays this winter and spring are worth it, as when construction is completed, Hunt Highway will expand from a two-lane road to a four-lane road with a center turning lane. “Traffic will move quicker and more efficiently when the entire reconstruction project is completed,” Kelly said. “Traffic volume had long outgrown the capacity of Hunt Highway. They should have done this years ago.” Actually Pinal County wanted to widen Hunt Highway back in 2007, when the exploding population of San Tan Valley (not yet having adopted its current name) had already overtaxed what had been a thin rural link between Queen Creek with Florence, said Greg Stanley, county manager. “Three different area supervisors worked on this project in various stages. But the reason why it took so long was the lack of money,” he explained. The project to widen 12 miles of Hunt Highway through San Tan Valley had been designed by traffic engineers and was ready to launch in late 2007, when the economy began to plummet. The $15 million project was going to be paid out of Development Impact Fees collected from contractors putting up new buildings, but new construction was screeching to a halt. The project was thus moved to the back burner. To get it restarted, the project was divided into seven parts. Some lobbying in Washington resulted in Pinal County receiving a $5 million in federal construction grant in spring 2011 that

would be administered by the Central Arizona Association of Governments and the Arizona Department of Transportation. Once the funding was in hand, the county began work on getting the necessary environmental clearances, which it did by July 2012. It then purchased the right-of-way needed to expand the road. The final impediment of utility relocation was completed last October. Pemberton was quite pleased with the nearly total lack of complaints from citizens once the Hunt Highway reconstruction began. “They are taking the current inconveniences in stride, knowing that the widened road will make their commutes quicker and safer, with greater accessibility for businesses and residents, and faster response times for emergency vehicles on it is completed,” she said. Phase Two of the Hunt Highway reconstruction will run 2.5 miles from Thompson Road to Gary Road. The same as Phase One, it will convert the road to a four-lane road with a median turn lane. Phase Two is budgeted for $4.2 million and will be fully funded by Pinal County’s half-cent tax on gasoline. Phase Three set for 2015 will widen Hunt Highway from Gary Road to Bella Vista Road, and Phase Four, in late 2015, will widen Hunt Highway from Bella Vista Road to Magma Road. Additional related projects include the widening of Bella Vista Road between Hint Highway and Gantzel Road (Phase D), and the installation of permanent traffic signals at Gary and Skyline Drive and at Gary and Empire Boulevard.

6 | Southeast Valley Ledger May

14, 2014

QUEEN CREEK HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION EDITION 2014 Celebrating Queen Creek High School’s Top Students

Adam Baldwin

Ryan Baldwin

Kyle Brague

Tyson Dawson

Originally from: Long Beach, California Favorite course(s): Human Anatomy and AP U.S. History What extracurricular activities, clubs or sports did you participate in? I’m an Eagle scout and in the National Honor Society. I’m the Vice-President of the Trivia/Quiz Bowl Club. I’m in the Literature Club and also a varsity athlete in Cross-Country and Track. Could you name any awards, scholarships or competition victories you received this year? Platinum Scholar Award. I’m an AP Scholar. I’m hoping to receive a couple of scholarships that I’ve applied for. Do you have any college plans? I’m going to BYU to study Biochemistry and then Medical school. How did you get interested in that field? I wanted to go to Med school ever since I was little and become a doctor. My grandpa is a doctor and I’ve always looked up to him. I’ve always been interested in the sciences and I’ve enjoyed the anatomy courses, chemistry and biology. I just want to continue that and see where that path takes me. Do you have a particular career path in mind? I don’t have a definite path or specialty like Oncology or Pharmaceuticals, for example. What summer plans do you have? I’m going to work and then at the end of the year I’m going to go on a mission, come back, and go to school. Now that you’re about to graduate, how do you feel? Honestly, I’m a little bit excited to go and move on to something that maybe is a little bit scary. Of course, I’ll miss the times I’ve had here, but I think it will be a new adventure to move on and do something different.

Originally from: Long Beach, California Favorite course(s): Biology (Freshman year) and Physics (Senior year) What extracurricular activities, clubs or sports did you participate in? I used to be a cross-country and track runner. I’m in the National Honor Society and I’m an Eagle Scout. I’m the secretary of the Trivia/ Quiz Bowl Club. I’m a member of the physics club and the Literature Clubs. Could you name any awards, scholarships or competition victories you received this year? I won the inspirational Bulldog of the Year Award. In my junior year, during preseason cross-country, I was doing some training and I was having some knee troubles. It turns out that I have bone cancer. I spent my junior year receiving treatment and having surgery. I volunteered to be the manager for the crosscountry and track teams this year. I finished treatment and have had all the surgeries to remove the spots in my bones. I can’t say I’m in remission until 5 years after the treatment finished. I’m just in the phase now where I have to go every 3-6 months for checkups. Additionally, I received the BYU tuition scholarship. Do you have any college plans? I’m going to study Biochemistry at BYU. How did you get interested in that field? Because of what I’ve gone through, I want to be able to do what my doctors did for me. Do you have a particular career path in mind? My plan is to study Biochemistry and eventually make into Medical school. I plan to be involved with Oncology so that I can sort of Continued on Page 11

Originally from: Arizona Favorite course(s): Physics and Calculus What extracurricular activities, clubs or sports did you participate in? I was in the National Honor Society (NHS) and was the treasurer for NHS. I was the president of Physics Club. I attended Quiz Bowl Club Tournament. I was in Literature Club. Could you name any awards, scholarships or competition victories you received this year? We received the Rookie Team of the Year Award at Quiz Bowl. I received tuition scholarships to NAU, UA, and ASU. I was on the Principal’s List and the general academic awards at the school. Do you have any college plans? I’m wait-listed at Columbia University right now, but I’ll probably go to ASU Barrett, The Honors College. How did you get interested in that field? I’m going to study Biomedical Engineering. I always dreamed about stuff like that – cyborgs and stuff. When I saw it could become a reality it was just like, wow! Do you have a particular career path in mind? I want to get, at least, a master’s degree. I can get the masters in five years if I’m in the accelerated program. I want to even go to a doctorate. That’ll be a good amount of time. I want to work for an Engineering firm and get contracted by Biotech companies or just work for them. What summer plans do you have? I want to go to California – my cousins have Continued on Page 11

Originally from: Arizona Favorite course(s): Human Anatomy and Physics What extracurricular activities, clubs or sports did you participate in? I founded the Spanish Club while I was at Queen Creek and served as president. I also founded the Trivia/Quiz Bowl Club and served as president. I was the team captain of the Varsity Quiz Bowl Club. I was involved with the Boy Scouts of American and I am an Eagle Scout. I am in the National Honor Society and in the Physics Club. I am the treasurer of the Physics Club, and I’m in the Literature Club. Could you name any awards, scholarships or competition victories you received this year? I was commended as a National Merit Scholar for taking the PSAT. I’m an AP scholar. I was awarded a full tuition scholarship to BYU. I received some Quiz Bowl awards, including Rookie School of the Year Award. I earned second place at a Quiz Bowl Tournament. I’m a Bulldog Platinum Scholar. Do you have any college plans? I’m going to BYU. I’d like to study Biochemistry and I’d like to be a Pharmacist or a Pharmaceutical Scientist. How did you get interested in that field? I want to study the different ways we can use chemicals to make medicine, improve people’s lives, and cure disease. Do you have a particular career path in mind? Pharmacist or Pharmaceutical Scientist. What summer plans do you have? I work at Paradise Bakery and do some website testing. I will work until late June Continued on Page 11





May 14, 2014

Southeast Valley Ledger


Class of 2014 leads student section to new heights By Andrew Luberda Southeast Valley Ledger Anyone who has attended a varsity sporting event this school year is likely to have experienced the Bulldogs’ Student Section. For those who haven’t, you’re not only missing out on the students’ tremendous support of the school’s athletic teams, but also some good entertainment. Senior Layne Roshay, a member of the Bulldogs’ football team, recalled going to a sporting event in 2012 where there wasn’t a large number of students in attendance. In his last year at Queen Creek, he wanted the Class of 2014 to start a tradition that future classes would carry on. “I just started thinking, ‘Wouldn’t that be epic if we had a student section like the football games but bigger’,” Roshay said. “We can get rowdy.” The first step was to change the perception of going to support sports other than football. “Let’s make it cool to, actually, go support our teams,” Roshay said. “We made going to the basketball games fun.” Roshay said the students began brainstorming to come up with different themes for each game. There was Beach Party Night, Silent Night, Workout Night, and Señor Night. After deciding on a theme, Roshay said the students would notify senior class president Ricardo

Flores to get the word out through social media. The new and improved student section made its first appearances at basketball and volleyball games. One of the rituals was for the students to turn their back on the visiting team during the pregame introductions. Even some of the visiting teams enjoyed the atmosphere created by the student section. “(Queen Creek) has a great crowd because this is a small community and they’re all here and loud,” Tempe basketball head coach Tom Saltzstein said after a January game at Queen Creek. “They have great kids, a great fan base. It was a fun night.” The players enjoyed seeing the support from their fellow students. “Our student section is awesome,” senior basketball player Ty Lemieux after a game during the season. “I play so much better at home because of them.” “We’ve had a great student section the entire year,” Bulldogs’ head coach Troy Gibson added. The Class of 2014 wants to see the tradition of the student section to continue even after they’re gone. “We wanted it to be something cool,” Roshay said. “We figured if the football players would rally up and get everybody going, we could make it big. So, that’s what we did. It was pretty great. It was fun, everybody talked about it, and it became cool.”

Layne Roshay hams it up for the camera. Andrew Luberda | Ledger


QUEEN CREEK UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT is Proud to be a Premier District of CHOICE in the East Valley! District Graded ‘A’ by the Arizona Department of Education 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13

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8 | Southeast Valley Ledger May

14, 2014

Queen Creek student leads service project to help Guatemalan students By Andrew Luberda Southeast Valley Ledger

Queen Creek student Lexi Olsen and her friends attended the recent Queen Creek Kelli Luberda | Ledger Discovery Event and sold Yuda Bands for her charity efforts.

Congratulations Class of 2014!

Lexi Olsen, a senior at Queen Creek High School, is planning, preparing and hosting a service project to send Guatemalan students to school in their country. These students would not otherwise have this chance to go to school without the efforts of Lexi and others like her. After learning of the service project through a Student Council convention and her aunt, Lexi made the commitment to become a project leader. She believes the service fundraiser “will change the world, one person at a time.” Lexi and others have been selling YUDA Bands for $7 to raise money to sponsor two students in Guatemala. Lexi and her group were able to choose the children they wished to sponsor. “I can’t express the absolute love and joy I feel as we sell these bands,” Lexi said. “Knowing that these students, Brandon

Giving back to the community part of being a Bulldog By Andrew Luberda Southeast Valley Ledger

Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow

Now Enrolling for Fall! San Tan Campus, 3736 E. Bella Vista Road, San Tan Valley, AZ 85143

and Esparanza, are going to be given the chance of a lifetime to break out of their poverty cycle and change their country for the better.” YUDA Bands are handcrafted bracelets, made from coconut and leather found in Guatemala. They are made by the native people of Guatemala which creates jobs to help break the poverty cycle. Lexi says that $2 of each bracelet sold goes directly to the sponsored children, $3 goes to the native people who make the bracelets (many of them past students who have gone through the program), and $2 goes to the expenses of shipping and scholarships for past project leaders. “It is such a neat and special experience and I want to share it with as many people as possible,” Lexi said. “It is the most pure and selfless project I have ever been a part of.” For more information on YUDA Bands and this project, please visit www.

Several players from Queen Creek’s softball and baseball teams recently visited Frances Brandon Elementary School to read to the students at the school. Making a commitment to give back in the form of community service is a requirement for Queen Creek’s studentathletes. The baseball and softball teams make an annual trip to the VA Hospital in Phoenix to visit with the patients there. It’s an emotional visit, especially for the veteran players. Unfortunately, some patients who were there last year have passed away and it’s hard on the players. After visiting the VA Hospital last September, Bulldogs’ head coach Mike Campbell estimated that his team had totaled over 750 hours of

community service over the past seven seasons. Campbell added the players from all the teams are more than willing and always look forward to the events. “Whenever I tell the guys we are going to do this or go do that; they are more than willing to go,” he said. “It’s great to see.” After seeing the players read to students at Frances Brandon Elementary School, Campbell said, “(The players) made us proud.” In an interview before 2013 season started, Coach Bundy said one of her expectations for her players off the field was their commitment to give back to the community. The athletic department at Queen Creek is committed to having their teams give back to community. It’s important to everyone from the school district, the school’s administration, faculty, coaches, and players. All the sports’ teams perform community service.

QC High School Graduation is May 23, 7-9 p.m. at ASU Wells Fargo Arena

May 14, 2014

Southeast Valley Ledger

Queen Creek announces Dale Hancock Victory With Honor Award winners


Sarah Horst

Blake Williams

Carson Sawyer

Ryan Kottcamp

By Andrew Luberda Southeast Valley Ledger

Director Paul Reynolds. “He is in our Hall of Fame at the high school.” Each of the award winners was asked what winning the award means to them, what they’ll miss about Queen Creek High School, and what they’re looking forward to the most as they move on to the next chapter of their lives. Sarah Horst: “I thought it was really special, especially for volleyball. It’s given, not specifically to the best players, but it’s given to players who try the hardest, are the most respectful, and has a passion for the sport. I’ll probably miss the people here because I really like the town – I like how it’s a small town. I’m going to miss my team. It’s really sad that we’re done playing volleyball because we literally played all four years together. I’m really excited for NAU because I’m ready to meet new people.” Blake Williams: “It definitely means a lot. Just knowing that all the hard work and the all the hours in the gym have

paid off. I’m going to miss my teammates, friendships, and camaraderie we had the whole season. I’ll miss the coaches definitely. I’m looking forward to keeping my basketball career going and getting an education.” Carson Sawyer: “I think it’s a really cool honor and I was excited to earn it. My brother, Andrew, won it a few years (ago). It was really cool for me because it was like I was carrying on his legacy a little bit. I’m a hard worker and everything, but (my brother) was something else. I really looked up to him and I honestly don’t know where I would’ve gone without him. He sort of taught me everything I know. I’m going to miss all of my friends. I stopped by football practice the other day and it was weird not having all of (my teammates) around. It’s going to be weird leaving all the football players and all the kids on campus that I’ve come to know over the last four years. After I finish my mission,

I’m planning on going to college to study medicine and becoming an Orthopedist.” Ryan Kottcamp: “I feel really honored because it’s only one person for each sport. I’ve worked really hard for this every year in baseball and soccer. It’s just good to see all the hard work and effort pay off. It’s also good to see all the success that came from it and it’s cool to see how I’ve progressed each year with the support of my coaches and teammates. I’m definitely going to miss playing sports. I’ve been pretty sad about it over the last couple of games I’ve played. I’m also going to miss my teammates for sure because they’re like my brothers. My coaches, we’ve been really close the last couple of years and it’s going to be tough saying goodbye to sports. My plans are to come back from my mission and find a school where I can play baseball. If I’m not going to play baseball, I might try to play soccer somewhere.”

Four student-athletes from the Class of 2014 were named recipients of the 2013-14 Dale Hancock Victory With Honor Award. The award is given annually to a male and female athlete who demonstrates outstanding athletics skills, sportsmanship, and respect for their peers, teammates and coaches. Athletes who receive this award have also made significant contributions to the community. Sarah Horst, Ryan Kottcamp, Carson Sawyer, and Blake Williams were selected as this year’s award winners. Dale Hancock was a former board member for the QCUSD who took pictures for the Victory With Honor award. “(Dale) was a great friend, mentor and supporter for all of us in athletics,” said Bulldogs’ Assistant Principal and Athletic

10 | Southeast Valley Ledger

Congratulate Your Graduate

Know someone who is graduating? May

14, 2014

QCHS announces Athletes of the Year By Andrew Luberda Southeast Valley Ledger

big honor. Since Queen Creek is a smaller town, it is kind of like family around here. What I’m going to miss most is how close we are at Queen Creek High School. The one thing I’m looking forward to at the University of New Mexico is getting that chance to prove myself at the next level – being able to say I’m part of the elite group of players.” Maddy Belnap: “It really is an honor. I’ve worked really hard throughout high school and to have it end on a high note like this is just a blessing. To be able to finish as State Runner-up (Triple Jump) and get an award like this really makes me happy and grateful that I’ve been able to finish with amazing coaches and amazing teammates. I’m going to miss Track a lot. I’ve had so many memories in the track world. Track has been so good to me. I’m so excited to be a big girl – to be on my own at NAU. I’m going to miss my Momma, but I’m so excited to get in my

Chase Beal

said it was a difficult task to name only one female and one male due to the number of outstanding athletes in this class. He said each of the student-athletes named was deserving of the award. Chase Beal, Maddy Belnap, Bailey Cornwell, Matt Guida, Jasmine Hanna, Madi Merrell, and Marcus Still are the 2013-14 Athletes of the Year. Each of the award winners was asked what it means to be selected, what they’ll miss most about leaving Queen Creek, and what they are looking forward to as they move on to the next step in their lives. Chase Beal: “It’s not just an award for the year or just high school. It’s sort of like your life award – everything you’ve worked for 18 years. I was in 8th grade, I’d come to the baseball games and I’d see Dillon Freeman throw a no-hitter or Eddie Malone hit a homerun and I was like, ‘I’d give anything to be where that guy is.’ Now that I’m here – my senior year – and I’m being told that I’m one the best in my class. It’s hard to believe but it’s a very

Maddy Belnap

Bailey Cornwell

Matt Guida

Jasmine Hanna

Madi Merrell

Marcus Still

Seven Bulldogs from the Class of 2014 were named Athletes of the Year. Queen Creek Athletic Director Paul Reynolds

Continued on Page 11

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Southeast Valley Ledger

ATHLETES Continued from Page 10

own world and figure out what I want to do with my life.” Bailey Cornwell: “It means a lot. I put a lot work into my basketball season and realizing it was noticed by other people is really cool. I think the thing I’m going to miss the most is the sports and all the athletics. We had a really good fan base for all of our sports teams and that really brought the school together. Something I’m looking forward to is just the feel of college and something different than high school.” Matt Guida: “I think it’s important and it means a lot to be a part of that. At Queen Creek we haven’t had a big tradition of big-time Division I-type athletes. This year I feel like the Class of 2014 has set a new type of standard around here. We’ve had a ton of Division I kids this year – way more than previous years. It’s really important to me and it means a lot to be a part of that. I’ll definitely miss my friends. It’s going to be tough leaving my friends here and I leave pretty soon (to go to the Air Force Academy on June 26). It’s already getting tough for me. Another thing I’ll miss is the people, faculty, and staff – the kind of help we get as athletes around here. We have a great Athletic Director in Coach Reynolds and all of our coaching staffs, all of our sports programs – they’re on the rise. I’m going to miss all my coaches and all the help I’ve received from all of them. I’m looking forward to playing football again. I miss it a lot and I’m really happy that I’m healthy. I’ll be able to go in there and showcase myself. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Jasmine Hanna: “It means a lot and it’s a great accomplishment. When I started volleyball I never thought I would make it this far in my career and, honestly, it’s been surreal. It’s been amazing. I’m going to miss the support here. Our athletic department is great. Coach Reynolds does an amazing job and I’m going to miss his support. He’s always made sure everything goes according to plan and we have excellent athletic teams. I’m looking forward

to going to a powerhouse volleyball program at Colorado State. They’re amazing – one of the top in the country. I’m excited to get there and experience college.” Madi Merrell: “It’s a huge privilege to be recognized and not just for athletics, but for academics too because it’s so important. I’m a little nervous about going to BYU, but I think it’ll be good to experience something new. I’ve been in Queen Creek forever and I know the

KYLE BRAGUE Continued from Page 6 a beach house out there. I’m going to live out there with them for about a month and surf. I just want to try and relax before the school year starts. Now that you’re about to graduate, how do you feel? It’s a little bittersweet but more sweet

than bitter, I think. High school has served its purpose and the four years have been adequate. I sort of want to move on with my education and everything. Of course, I’ll miss everyone at high school, but, really, I feel like I’m ready to move on to a new awesome phase in my life.

RYAN BALDWIN Continued from Page 6 give back. For all the great things that people did for me, I want to be able to that for others. What summer plans do you have? I actually have to have another surgery on my leg – it’s a little short. So, they have to lengthen it out. Other than that, I’m going to work for a little bit until I’m going to leave on a mission for church. Once I return I’ll go to school.

Now that you’re about to graduate, how do you feel? I’m excited that I can move on from high school, but I’m sad that I won’t see my friends anymore. I guess I’m scared for what comes after, because high school is more comfortable and you know what to expect. But that’s also the exciting part – to be able to move on.

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| 11

same people. It’ll be good to get to know other people.” Marcus Still: “It’s a huge milestone for me. Starting out as a freshman, I always wanted to be one of the top athletes in the state. To be named (Athlete of the Year) is a huge honor to me. I’m going to miss all of my friends. I met all of (them) when we were growing up and we’ve been playing sports together for so long. We’ve built this huge bond and now that we’re all going our separate ways, it’s probably what I’ll miss most about my high school career – leaving my friends behind. Going to Loyola Marymount, I hope to grow as a person, mature, and hopefully take my career to the next level.”

TYSON DAWSON Continued from Page 6 before heading up to BYU to start their summer program. I’m going to do a summer term there so I’m going to work up until that point. After the summer term, I’m going to serve a two year mission for my church and afterwards I’ll return to my studies at BYU. Now that you’re about to graduate, how do you feel? I think it’s great. I’m going to be sad to see some of my friends go and, unfortunately, go our separate paths. But I think that’ll be a good experience for me and I’ll get to go and do some things I really love to do. I’m looking forward to the future ahead.

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12 | Southeast Valley Ledger SPORTS May 14, 2014

Local Area Summer Sports and Recreation PALADIN SPORTS OUTREACH This Christian-based youth sports organization serves children ages 3-9 and offers different sports year round. Registration for the upcoming basketball academy is ongoing and ends on May 17. The 4-week session, open to boys and girls, takes place at Combs Traditional Academy beginning on June 7. The $30 registration fee includes experienced staff instruction, all equipment, and a program t-shirt. Paladin Sports Outreach Executive Director Blake Wilsford said other sports throughout the year include flag football, soccer, T-Ball, and coach-pitch baseball. There is also a program designed for children with special needs and disabilities called Mighty Pals. There is no cost involved for children who register in Mighty Pals. “We

have a great board and great volunteers,” Wilsford said. “Our programs are about family, faith, and fun.” For more information please visit SAN TAN UNITED SPORTS ACADEMY (STUSA) Tryouts for the STUSA Select Club Soccer Teams begin on Saturday, May 17. The tryouts run for three days (May 19 and May 21) and the cost is $10. Players between the ages of 8-17 are invited to tryout. There are five Select teams based on age as of July 31, 2014. STUSA Select teams are competitive with intense training. Over the past 2 seasons, Select teams have achieved a high level of success. “We’ve had pretty good success,” San Tan Sports Academy Director Ruben Hernandez said. “We’ve entered some tournaments and won

some championships.” Further information, including tryout times, locations, answers to FAQ, and registration information can be found at TOWN OF QUEEN CREEK Several recreation classes and programs are available to residents and non-residents during the summer. From Arts Classes to Dance Classes to Sports and Cheerleading programs, there are a number of classes or programs available. Summer registration is now open for Queen Creek’s recreation classes. Classes range from monthly programs to one-day workshops to weeklong creativity camps. For a complete list of classes and programs available, or registration information, please visit www.QueenCreek. org.

By Andrew Luberda Southeast Valley Ledger




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May 14, 2014 SPORTS

Southeast Valley Ledger

| 13

Bulldogs’ loss not just an end to the season By Andrew Luberda Southeast Valley Ledger The Queen Creek softball team lost in the second round of the State Championship Playoffs last Tuesday to top-seeded Verrado, 3 – 0. “Verrado had great defense and had timely hits,” Bulldogs’ head coach Katie Bundy said after the game. “Madi pitched a heck of a game but things just went Verrado’s way that day.” The loss, indeed, ended the Bulldogs’ memorable

season. It also marked the final game in the high school careers of four seniors on the team. Madi Merrell, Courtney Spurlock, Brooke Lynn Rushefsky, and Lexi Valenzuela played in their last game at Queen Creek High School. For each of the four seniors, it’s the end of their high school playing days but only the beginning of the next step in their lives. All of them will continue playing softball in college. “I think these four seniors will do well at the next

level,” Bundy said. “I hope they continue their eagerness to want to get better and improve their game.” The Bulldogs finished their season undefeated in sectional play to capture their first-ever Sectional Championship. It’s quite an accomplishment for a team with no juniors and only four seniors. The seniors are moving on knowing the future is bright at Queen Creek. “I couldn’t have asked to play with a better team this year,” Player of the Year

FAMILY REUNION Continued from Page 4

future for himself after the traumas of war,” Chavez noted. “Christopher thought he had been forgotten, but he never was. And now he has a huge family waiting to greet him with open arms, and heart,” she explained. But before the family reunion can take place,

Chavez needs to raise $2,500 to fly Ellis and his loved one in from Michigan. To accomplish that, Chavez has set up a fundraising account at www.gofundme. com/8v63xw where family, friends and others can pledge money. The family also is staging a charity car wash on Saturday, May 17 at the Shell service station

on the corner of Center Road and McKellips Road, beginning at 6 a.m. “The owner of the service station is letting us conduct the car wash free of charge,” Chavez noted. “I invite everyone to come to help my brother, who faithfully served his country during the past decade, to renew his family ties.”

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candidate Madi Merrell said. “We became really close this year and it’s going to be hard leaving them.” “I’m going to miss playing with all of them, especially Madi,” Courtney Spurlock added. “I played with them for so long. I wish nothing but the best for all of them.” As is to be expected, the end is bittersweet for the seniors. They’re sad to be leaving behind their teammates and friends, but excited for what lies ahead. “I’m excited to start the (next step),” said Spurlock, who will attend ChandlerGilbert Community College. “I want to go on further – to a university. I’m eager to start working on getting a scholarship to (a four-year school).”

The four seniors aren’t the only departures from the Bulldogs’ softball program. After nine years leading the Queen Creek program, head coach Katie Bundy announced that she will not be returning to the school next year. “I’m going to miss all the friendships that I have made these nine years,” Bundy told the Ledger in an email. “Queen Creek is a great place, but I’m ready to move on.”

Even though Bundy won’t be coaching at Queen Creek, it doesn’t mean her coaching career is over. “I am excited I get to be with my boys Jake (3) and Weston (4) and to coach their teams,” she said. Despite the loss of the seniors and Coach Bundy, the Bulldogs’ have a number of players with varsity experience returning for at least two years. For those players, it’s just the beginning.








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Trying Shock Top’s Lemon Shandy W

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16 | Southeast Valley Ledger SPORTS May 14, 2014




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5 14 14 sev ledger