What would be the best word to best describe Daron Cross boy's head basketball coach of Cienega High School located in Vail, Arizona? Stern, demonstrative, diligent, passionate, tenacious, or some would even say enigmatic. The word I would personally chose to best describe him would be "God-Fearing!"
In today's day and age of worldly events and the ferocities our young men are faced with on a daily basis, he is the exemplification of man whom I would deem suitable to lead them down a positive path into adulthood. Many people view a coach as just that, but the record that follows him and the players that he has coached throughout the years gives the reassurance that all will not continue to be bad in our world.
Having accepted the task of building the newly established program out in Vail it gives me another impression that he is not all about winning. Through this process he will have the inevitable task of teaching positives through adversity, and I can't think of a better teacher right now. Everyone would love to have the distinction of always having a winning team, but what truly makes a coach is the person that has to really teach than rely on the superstars to carry a game.
The second year program missed the 4A division state playoffs last year by one game finishing with a won/lose record of 16-12 in it's first year of Varsity athletics. This season has the Bobcats off to a 12-11 record and coach Cross has this to say about his current team:
This year's team is young but hungry to succeed not only on the basketball court, but also in life. Even though we shave started off slow, I feel that this season will be successful in more ways than one when all is said and done. With only three senior contributors on this year's squad, the future is very bright with up and coming talent that works hard everyday in practice with additional learning experiences from game play. This group of young men is special to me because of the hard work they are putting in and the positive attitudes they display even though things are not going well record wise. I tell my teams that there are five priorities of life that are FAITH, FAMILY, EDUCATION, BASKETBALL, and FRIENDS. As long as they follow this pattern they will be successful in what ever they choose to do in life.
Coach Cross started the Tucson Heat Basketball organization in 1995 with players Mark Brown (Utah State Univ.), Troy Gaines (Auburn Univ.), Mike Wells (Cochise Jr.Col), David Ward (Colorado Col), Alan Batiste and Ryan Sonnek (Ft Lewis Col). With this group he won a state BCI Tournament as fourteen year olds followed by a BCI National Consolation runner-up. As fifteen year olds a second place state BCI followed by a National Elite 8 finish. As sixteen year olds they finished with a state BCI third place leading the way for them becoming BCI National Champions. As seventeen year olds they returned to the BCI National Championship and achieved a second place finish. While going through these experiences with this group of young men, it took them all into positive situation's in life laying the groundwork for coach Cross's coaching career.
Coaching sports at Booth Fickett Middle school he has the distinction of leading the Falcons to the boys basketball city championships seven of the eleven years he was there along with two state runner up finishes. Another little known fact about coach Cross is while coaching track he led the Falcons to six city championships, two state championships and a runner up in ten years. He assisted the ladies program at Sahuaro High School, which resulted in several winning seasons and further gives the example of his willingness to work with our youth of today.
The jury is out and only time will tell what mark will be made while coach Cross is teaching at Cienega High School. When the smoke clears I will look at him as a husband and father and know that he walks in the footsteps of our lord through example and dedication.