Baseball is revered in Scottsdale high schools by students, faculty and alumni alike.
Recently, the varsity field at Coronado High School was named for its retired coach, Roy Coppinger, whose teams were perennial state playoffs participants. Dedication ceremonies will be held next week. Last year the Dons did Coppinger's legacy honor by winning the Class 4A-II title game over Scottsdale Notre Dame Catholic.
On Saturday, Notre Dame was back in that same title game, and is due high praise for two appearances in a row. This year, Cottonwood Mingus was the winner, 4-1.
But the greatest accolades are for Scottsdale's Chaparral High School Firebirds, who on Saturday won their fifth state 4A-I title in six years, defeating Glendale Sandra Day O'Connor, 8-6.
It's a testimony to Chaparral coach Jerry Dawson's successful mentoring of several squads of young men into champions. And to the boys themselves, who now know better than any outsider what it means to come together as a team, sacrificing many individual goals to reach for the very top.
And yet, as Dawson told the Tribune's Kyle Odegard in Sunday's paper, Chaparral went 20 years before winning its first title. That's a long stretch for building much more character each season than a tower of W's, but Dawson said the priorities were in the right order.
"I don't feel like we coach for championships," he told Odegard. "I feel like we coach for the kids. If they get better, that part doesn't get old. And if they win a championship, that's wonderful."
Winning may have been the only thing to Vince Lombardi. But modern sports history is filled with public indifference, even scorn, for some college and professional teams that certainly won titles, but did it in a machine-like fashion with little room for admiration.
Here in Scottsdale, Dawson and his players gave us plenty to admire. Congratulations to all of them.