A former Mesa Westwood player who returned to the program to coach five years ago is now the Warriors’ new varsity football coach.
Greg Mendez, who played at Westwood in the mid-90s, has been selected to succeed Eddy Zubey, who left earlier in April to take the same job at Phoenix St. Mary’s.
Westwood athletic director Thad Gates announced the new coach selection Wednesday afternoon.
“Greg has been with the program five years and we think he’ll do a good job in keeping us on track,” Gates said.
“He’s been our head junior varsity coach two years and been with the varsity the last three. The last two years he’s been defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.”
Gates said Mendez’s dedication to the program and community were a big factor in his selection as was his familiarity with current players.
Mendez, who played at Westwood from 1993-1995, met with Westwood players Wednesday afternoon after his hiring became official.
He sensed relief that someone who knew them and coached them the past couple of years would be around.
“This is just starting to sink in,” Mendez said.
“It’s nice they stayed within. I came in as a player after (Jerry) Loper left and they hired my coach Curtis Palmer. He had been an assistant for a long time in the program. It feels pretty good to get this position.”
Mendez was a finalist two years ago when Zubey ultimately got the job. He likes the Westwood community and hopes to make those ties stay strong for the program.
Scottsdale Desert Mountain opted for a familiar name in its program to coach the girls basketball team, selecting Doug Berry to replace the retired coach Dick Donahue.
Berry was an assistant under Donahue last season and has coached in the club basketball scene for the past five years, where he’s coached a few of the Wolves players before.
“He’s familiar with the kids and the parents,” athletic director Steve Harris said. “We think he’ll do a good job.”
Berry will continue to teach psychology classes at Paradise Valley Community College a couple of times per week.
Donahue retired earlier this spring after nearly 30 years of coaching between Glendale Apollo, Phoenix Arcadia and Desert Mountain, and Berry, who’s known Donahue for a few years, believes the style of play isn’t likely to change significantly.
“It makes the transition easier,” Berry said. “Some I’ve known through club teams as well. It’ll be nice to keep seeing familiar faces.
— Staff writer Mark Heller contributed to this report