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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Pima riding wave to postseason

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Pima riding wave to postseason

Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics Sophomore Sydni Stallworth goes in for a layup against South Mountain.


The Pima Community College women’s basketball team is currently averaging 83.2 points per game, an improvement from the previous seasons 72.6 points per game average.

The Aztecs have also improved their three-point accuracy, hitting 30.7 percent as opposed to 21.9 percent last season. Their overall field goal percentage has also seen a bump, an 8.3% percent increase from last season.

“We are right where we want to be, coming down the stretch in a good position,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “In my ten years, this is probably the best offensive team I’ve ever had.”

Feb. 4: PCC 87, Eastern Arizona 92

After maintaining a slight lead for three quarters, the Aztecs ended up with a loss against the Gila Monsters.

Pima held a seven-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Then Eastern Arizona outscored PCC 31-19 in the fourth. The Gila Monsters out rebounded the Aztecs, 51-36, and shot 25 for 30 at the free throw line.

Sophomore Denesia Smith, lead the team with 21 points, four rebounds and four assists. Fellow sophomore Sydni Stallworth had 18 points, five rebounds and two assists.

Feb. 8: PCC 83, South Mountain 53

After their second loss to Eastern Arizona, the Aztecs bounced back and beat the South Mountain Cougars.

PCC started out the second half with a 17-point lead and steamrolled it into a 30-point lead by the end of the game.

Stallworth led her team with 27 points and shot 62 percent from the field. Freshman Alliyah Bryant had 13 points, hitting half of her shots.

The win allowed for a sweep of the Cougars, with the Aztec’s having defeated South Mountain 68-54 earlier in the season.

Feb. 11: PCC 71, Scottsdale 58

The Aztecs took the win against the Artichokes after sophomore Bree Cates dropped 24 points.

The game began as a neck and neck affair, until the fourth quarter. The Aztecs stretched their lead to double digits in the fourth, and closed out the game with a 13-point lead.

Cates also shot for 44 percent and had six rebounds. Stallworth finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

“We got a tough part of our schedule coming up leading into playoffs,” Holthaus said. “That’ll be the focus leading into playoffs, tighten up the defence. Knowing that the old cliché ‘defense wins championships’ is true.”

Feb. 15: PCC vs. Cochise

The game took place after the Aztec Press went to press.


Feb. 18: at Phoenix College, 2p.m.

Feb. 22: Cetral Arizona, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 25: at Mesa CC, 2p.m.

Feb. 28: Arizona Western, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.

TENNIS: Team's sweep openers

TENNIS: Team’s sweep openers

By: Nicholas Trujillo

With a new coach at the helm for both Pima Community College tennis teams, Ian Esquer starts off his season 1-0, for the men’s and women’s teams.


Feb. 4: PCC 9, Imperial Valley 0

The men’s team earned a 9-0 sweep against Imperial Valley College. Fresman Francisco Sotelo swept his No. 4 singles match 6-0, 6-0.

Sophomores Jesus Lopez and Raj Singh Kaila also swept their opponents, No. 5 and No. 6 singles respectively, 6-0, 6-0.

In the doubles competition Sophomores Marc Avalos and Francisco Ton won their No. 1 doubles 6-1, 6-1.


Feb. 4: PCC 7, Imperial Valley 2

The Aztecs took their win against Imperial Valley, with a 7-2 take over.

In singles, freshman Elise Rodriguez defeated her No. 6 singles, 6-0, 61.

In doubles, Rodriguez and freshman Jayme Shafer swept their No. 3 doubles 8-0.




Feb. 20-21: Scottsdale CC, Invitational, Sun City, 11 a.m.


Feb. 27-28: Estella Mountain CC Invitational, Goodyear, 10 a.m.

Anti-censorship bill moves to state Senate

Anti-censorship bill moves to state Senate

Nicholas Trujillo/Aztec Press Republican Senator Kimberly Yee, District 20, reintroduces the bill after 25 years.


An anti-censorship bill that could effectively nullify a famous court case that allows educational institutions the last word on student publications is working through the state Senate after passing unanimously at a hearing before the Senate Education Committee Feb. 2 in Phoenix.

Senate Bill 1384 was sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Yee (R, District 20) and was passed on to the senate floor. If it passes there, it will be sent to Gov. Doug Ducey, who can either sign or veto the bill.

SB 1384 is a response to the three-decade old Hazelwood v. Khuliemer case, where a St. Louis high school newspaper attempted to publish stories about divorce and teen pregnancy. The administration said that the stories would be inappropriate.

The case was taken to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in the students favor. However, after being taken to the Supreme Court, it was found that the school did have the power to censor the paper under certain circumstances.

At the hearing before the education committee, six students and two instructors gave testimony, and many more journalists attended.

“If it actually passes into law it’ll have significant implications for us,” said Sam Gross, editor in chief of the Daily Wildcat. “Basically the bill makes it harder to argue against us.”

Outlined in the bill are nine amendments to be added. One stipulates student journalists and media outlets will not be subject to prior restraint, even if they are supported financially by an educational facility.

If passed, SB 1384 would effectively overrule Hazelwood v. Khuliemer by freeing students of censorship by a school’s administration, even if the material were deemed taboo.

The bill does enforce four instances where students will not be protected: libel, unwarranted invasion of privacy, violating federal or state law or inciting students to break the law.

Specifically, if any of the four instances occur, the bill states, “the public school, community college or university has the burden of providing lawful justification without unique delay.”

Though passed unanimously, the bill did meet some criticism. Sen. Steve Smith (R, District 11) had a problem with SB 1384’s intention. Smith raised the possibility of a student falling at a stadium during a football game and the paper publishing a cartoon of it.

“We just want to make sure we are not green lighting any inappropriate stuff for high school kids,” Smith said. “A problem for some is not a problem for all.”

Smith pointed out that the potential cartoon would not be libelous or slanderous, but it would be inappropriate.

Yee countered, saying “we need to rely on the professionalism of our advisers. They’ve been journalism advisers for years and years and they wouldn’t have gotten there with inappropriate cartoons.”

While SB 1384 grants protection from censorship it also grants protection from disciplining a student-journalist for acting in accordance with the bill.

James Bourland, adviser for Tucson High Magnet School’s Cactus Chronicle, would be affected along with his student-journalists.

The bill grants protection to the adviser from being fired, reassigned or transferred if the adviser is acting to protect the student in accordance with the bill.

“What this would do is basically give the reporters the right to do their jobs, which is report the actual news,” Bourland said. “It would skip over those puff pieces, now we can actually be journalists.”
In the end, Bourland contends the spirit of SB 1384 is a long time coming. “It seems like, it’s pretty good that student journalist will be given the rights they should already have.”

TENNIS: Ticket to nationals guaranteed for women's team

TENNIS: Ticket to nationals guaranteed for women’s team


Going to the ACCAC nationals will be as easy as showing up, for the women’s tennis team.

“The girls are excited because they’re going to play nationals for sure,” head coach Ian Esquer said.

The same can’t be said for the men’s team, as it will have to qualify in the top three at the regional competition.

Last season, the men’s tennis squad ended its run at the Region I championships. The women’s team ended with sophomore Noelle Karp losing in the No. 3 singles.

After coaches Brian Ramirez and Gretchen Schantz stepped down from their positions at season’s end, PCC hired former student Esquer to coach both teams.

Esquer played at the college from 2006-2008 and went to nationals both times. As coach, he hopes to bring out that same energy in his student-athletes.

“This year is going to be really interesting,” he said. “I got both teams with just four players last semester, and I thought it was going to be tough to fill up.”

He thinks his players will enjoy a good season.

“Both teams are improving a lot more since the semester started,” he said.

The number of players represent a major change since his time at PCC. In 2006, both teams had nine players. Esquer has six players on his teams now.

“It’s more even this time, compared to when I played,” he said. “You want a team that can play at the same level and at all positions and seeds.”

The women’s team will have its first game on Feb. 23 in Thatcher against Eastern Arizona College.

The men’s team begins play by hosting Mesa Community College on Feb. 28 at the West Campus tennis courts.

Sophomore Emma Oropeza serves ball in pre-season practice.
Nicholas Trujillo / Aztec Press


Wage bill makes small ripples for PCC

Wage bill makes small ripples for PCC



Federal work-study helps many Pima Community College students earn income while balancing their school work. Alex Velarde is one of those students.

After Arizona voters passed Proposition 206 last year, Velarde and other minimum wage workers saw their pay increase from $8.05 to $10 an hour on Jan. 1. The minimum wage will continue to increase in increments, reaching $12 by the year 2020.

Velarde has worked since 2014 as a student assistant on the Help Desk in the Computer Commons at West Campus. He helps students and staff with technical problems involving computers and printers.

He was pleased when Proposition 206 passed. “I thought, ‘Well great, it’s more money,’” he said.

Jose Chavez, a student assistant in the West Campus Learning Center, is also excited about the raise.

“I think it’s better, ‘cause we get paid more,” Chavez said. “They cut my hours a bit though, from 19 to 16 hours.”

Chavez said fewer work hours allow more time for his other obligations.

“With school and everything going on, I don’t complain too much about the hours,” he said.

PCC has 13 job classifications that pay minimum wage. Positions such as courier driver, residential assistance and Help Desk student assistant all saw a 24.2 percent increase in their pay grade.

Other PCC jobs did not see a raise because they already paid well over the previous $8.05 minimum wage.

“The impact has been pretty small,” PCC spokeswoman Libby Howell said in an email. “None of our regular employees were affected, because the lowest hourly wage PCC pays to a regular employee is $13.54.”

College documents say funding sources “will be allocated for appropriate budget adjustments for the remainder of this fiscal year.”

Allocated sources include grant-funded programs. Many personnel expenses will come from the college’s general fund.

The general fund gets revenue from three main sources: property tax levies, tuition and fees, and college equities.


Student Assistant Solomon Kebede is part of a small group of Pima Community College employees affected by the new minimum wage bill. Photo by Nicholas Trujillo.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Winter break provides no slack for the Aztecs

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Winter break provides no slack for the Aztecs



While many students finally got a good night’s sleep, the Pima Community College women’s basketball team took no breaks over the winter holiday.

“The whole concern is that we need to beat the teams in our divisions,” assistant coach Jim Rosborough said. “We need to be sure that we’re top seed out of the Division II schools.”

The No. 2-ranked Aztecs won against South Mountain Community College, Dawson Community College, Scottsdale Community College and Phoenix College during the break.

The third loss in the Aztecs’ calendar came Jan. 7 against Cochise College, 57-44, in Douglas.

Even with three losses, the Aztecs had small victories that overshadowed the missteps.

Sophomore Sydni Stallworth was named ACCAC player of the week three times and won national honors as NJCAA Division II player of the week. She’s averaging 15.3 points, 7.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.

Jan. 14: PCC 96, Central Arizona College 85

The Aztecs hosted the Vaqueras and took control of the game from the start. The team lead 47-45 at halftime, and went up by 76-65in the third quarter.

“Amazing team win and I’m super proud,” head coach Todd Holthaus said in a press release.

Sophomores led the game as Stallworth finished with 34 points, followed by Denesia Smith and Bree Cates with 17 points each.

Jan. 18: PCC 81, Mesa CC 84

When PCC last played Mesa Community College in the Region I, Division II finals, the Aztecs won 78-54.

However, history did not repeat on Jan. 18. Pima lost to a buzzer beater.

“We weren’t as sharp defensively as we should’ve been, and it ended up costing us the game,” Rosborough said.

Stallworth had 22 points, followed by Cates with 17 points and six rebounds.

Jan. 21: PCC 91, Arizona Western 73

The Aztecs quickly recovered after the Mesa loss and pulled a double-digit win against Arizona Western College.

The No. 2 Aztecs took the lead in the first quarter, 20-19. By the third quarter, they held a 61-51 lead.

Stallworth ended the game with 28 points and Cates had 19.

Freshman Alliyah Bryant made her first six 3-pointers in a row and finished the game with 19 points shooting for 66 percent beyond the arc.

“We played pretty hard as a team,” Bryant said. “It was probably one of my best games so far.”

Jan. 25: PCC 71, Tohono O’odham 25

The second half of the season saw a replay of the ending to the Native American Classic. The Aztecs earned their second win of the season against the Jegos.

From the start, the Aztecs held on to a lead that increased as the quarters went on. They did not let Tohono O’odahm score more than 16 points per quarter.

Stallworth lead the team with 24 points, followed by Cates with 13 points.

Jan. 28: PCC 98, Chandler-Gilbert 43

The No.3 Aztecs beat Chandler-Gilbert for the team’s 16th consecutive win.

The first quarter ended with the Aztecs up by 18 points and then by 29 points when the second quarter ended, more than doubling Chandler-Gilbert’s score, 51-22.

Cates shot for 69 percent, scoring 16 points. Smith finished with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Feb. 1: PCC versus Glendale CC

The game took place after the Aztec Press went to the printer.



Feb. 4: at Eastern Arizona College, Thatcher, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 8: South Mountain CC, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 11: at Scottsdale CC, 7 p.m.

Feb. 15: Cochise College, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.

Sudanese-born student helps a world in need

Sudanese-born student helps a world in need

Ibrahim Younis gives a community talk to share his worldwide experiences working for the Doctors Without Borders organization. (David Pujol/Aztec Press)


Ibrahim Younis, a 44-year-old Sudanese-born Tucsonan, has worked as a coordinator for Doctors Without Borders since 1997.

“To save a life, to feed people, to be able to make this change, it’s addictive,” Younis said during a Pima Community College presentation that drew students, faculty and community members. “When you’re back home, you’ll want to do it again.”

Younis grew up in the United Kingdom and in Belgium. He holds citizenship with three countries: Sudan, Belgium and the United States.

After obtaining his primary school education in Sudan and attending school in Europe, Younis enrolled at PCC two years ago. He hopes to transfer to the University of Arizona to continue studying political science.

Younis worked in the early ‘90s with a United Nations consortium called Operation Lifeline Sudan, handling and managing the food distribution logistics.

He then moved to Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its European name of Médecins Sans Frontières.

He started with MSF as a logistician, and later became a logistics coordinator and then a program coordinator. He’s now worked as a manager in MSF’s European headquarters and has also traveled to more than 50 countries.

Much of his early MSF work focused on conflicts in Islamic countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and Somalia. He worked on the front lines in African areas where Boko Haram extremists were active.

His non-medical work with emergency units made him an emergency specialist, so he now concentrates on emergency preparedness and response for both human-caused and natural disasters.

“I find it sad that the kind of work he is doing is necessary, but I appreciate the work that he does,” said Elizabeth Moisin, a PCC nursing student who attended Younis’ presentation.

“I think it’s heartwarming that there are people who have the courage to go out there and do this kind of work,” she said.

Lizette Durazo, another PCC student who attended his talk, said she will consider working with a relief program like MSF in the future.

“To hear that there are people who risk their lives to save lives is miraculous, especially in the face of danger on the front lines,” she said.

Younis said 60 percent of his job involves gaining access and developing strategies. He must deal with politics, security and diplomacy while working with local authorities.

He has seen tragedy and loss throughout his time working with MSF, but said he continues to return because of its potential for good. When patients recover and start smiling, Younis said he knows MSF has made a difference.

“There are a lot of sad and happy memories, but in general the fact that you save lives gives you so much consciousness of the situation and the work you do,” he said. “And we do save lives, especially for children, pregnant women, the elderly and the wounded.”

He supports MSF’s belief in staying neutral, and said aide workers can’t differentiate by color, gender, age, religion or creed.

“Whatever comes on the table, you treat,” he said. “That, for me, is fundamental if you want to provide humanitarian assistance, especially in conflicts.”

Younis met his physician wife about five years ago through MSF. They now both live in Tucson with their two children.

He sees himself doing what is right no matter the danger. “I get to have that pleasure of making a difference in somebody’s life,” he said.

Believing in the power, not the institution

Believing in the power, not the institution


I am a person of faith. I believe in a higher power. I believe in God. But I disagree with most of what the church has to say.

Sunday has been church day ever since I was a little kid.

I grew up with a Christian mom who came from a very devoted family. My granddad was a pastor for most of his life and many of my relatives are involved in the church as well.

My dad, on the other hand, was raised Catholic but rarely goes to Mass.

I was taught in church that we must follow the rules to go to heaven. If I did not behave correctly, God would punish me.

But as I started to grow up, things the church said did not make sense to me anymore.

We live in a society that is more liberal than in the past but still people use their religious beliefs to discriminate against others.

Churches are becoming places where you can judge others who don’t agree with you.

Not all churches are bad but not all of them work for all people.

There are so many religions and each has aspects different from the others. One thing they have in common is that each religion feels it is the right one.

A quote in the movie “Spotlight” stuck with me: “The church is an institution of men and that’s passing. My faith is in the eternal. I try to separate the two.”

That made a lot of sense to me. I don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with God or to believe in something.

If you don’t go church or identify yourself with a specific religion, people automatically think you are an atheist.

There is nothing wrong with being an atheist but I disagree with the assumption that anyone who stops attending church is a non-believer.

I don’t need someone to be an intermediary for me. I don’t need an institution to know that I have a relationship with a higher power.

We should believe in whatever we need. Belief is something people look to for comfort.

What may work for you may not work for somebody else.

Maria Angulo is a journalism major at Pima Community College. She hopes to transfer and graduate from one of the three state universities.

Certified chef has own show on Telemex

Certified chef has own show on Telemex

Chef Mario in the kitchen he uses to film his show. (Nicholas Trujillo/Aztec Press)


Growing up, Chef Mario Diaz De Sandy Jr. wanted to be an actor. He didn’t find his current passion for cooking until later.

He now pursues both passions. The certified executive chef has his own cooking show. 

“Originally I went to school for acting, back in the day, like early ‘80s,” De Sandy said.

De Sandy, widely known as Chef Mario, stars in a cooking segment on Telemax network, which is broadcast all over Mexico. De Sandy cook dishes for a program that airs on Saturdays at 9 a.m.

“I’ve had a few people stop me at Food City and stuff like that,” he said. “I’m not really looking for fame and fortune, but it feels good to be recognized on TV as a chef.”

De Sandy’s native language is Spanish, but family members living in Mexico have called after seeing the show to give him points on how to speak Spanish in a more proper way.

“When you grow up on this side of town, you learn Spanglish and you learn words from the street,” De Sandy said. “I had six or seven words that I had to Google translate and practice saying.

One such word was “alcachofa,” which is the Spanish word for artichoke.

De Sandy films the TV segments at the Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus, where he works as a culinary instructor.

It usually takes De Sandy more than 45 minutes to demonstrate and cook the featured dish. After editing, those 45 minutes become a six- or seven-minute video.

Before filming his own show, De Sandy played an extra in 14 Tucson movies. He worked as a chef for one of the film crews, feeding them breakfast each morning.

At one point De Sandy spent six months in the Washington Mountains working as an assistant producer and then on the special effects team.

“It was a great experience for me,” he said.

In addition to his acting pursuits, De Sandy recently completed a milestone in his cooking career by completing all requirements to become a certified executive chef

There are four major keys to becoming certified.

The first step is completing classes that count as education-work experience.

“I just received a bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and I took a bunch of classes at Pima, and when you bundle them all together, I qualify for that section,” De Sandy said.

Secondly, he obtained letters from previous employers that show he has leadership skills.

“I had to get letters stating that I actually supervised more than four employees,” De Sandy said.

During past work at University Medical Center, he supervised 110 employees.

Next came a cooking exam with multiple parts.

 “You have to do an appetizer, a main entree and a salad,” De Sandy said. “It’s very expensive because you have to practice, so you have to buy food for practice. Then you have to buy food for the actual exam.”

Applicants must incorporate specific items and techniques into their creations.

De Sandy was required to include lobster, salmon, chicken and many other ingredients. He also had to demonstrate designated knife cuts such as julienne, paysanne and batonnet.

He spent 12 hours driving to the Phoenix location, setting up, taking the three-hour exam and cleaning up.

“You always want to leave the kitchen in a better condition than you found it,” he said.

 Once he had the education, the letter and the practical exam out of the way, he had to complete a 100-question written exam in Nogales about kitchen management, sanitation and other topics.

De Sandy was one point short on his first try. “Unfortunately the passing grade was 300 and I got a 299,” he said.

He blamed a combination of not keeping track of time and not studying, and promised himself he would take the test again and ace it.

The results were better when he re-took the test 10 months later.

“I scored a 340,” he said.

GUEST COLUMN: Lyft, Uber prime time a rip-off

GUEST COLUMN: Lyft, Uber prime time a rip-off


Things that should be illegal: stealing, murder, drug use and prime time on Lyft and Uber rides.

As a college student, I use Lyft and/or Uber when I don’t want to drive on the weekends. Ergo, I always use it.

Prime time happens when potential customers request an excessive number of Lyft or Uber rides within a short period of time. A formula compares the number of Lyft/Uber drivers available to the number of ride requests, and multiplies the price of rides by a multiple.

On Friday and Saturday nights, prime time rates typically go up 50-100 percent. This is a little ridiculous but doable, especially if the party I need to get to is going to be worth it.

Just last weekend, however, I was out with a friend. We were going to request a Lyft to take us home, until we saw it was a 500 percent prime time markup.

Five hundred percent? This outrageous amount would have been roughly $50 for a 15-minute ride. If this isn’t robbery, I don’t know what is.

As a college student with enough to worry about and pay for, I am appalled by Lyft and Uber for putting these prices on their rides.

So why do they do it? They say that at times of high demand, the number of drivers become limited and higher prices encourage other drivers to become available.

With that in mind, I did a survey to determine whether college students (ages 18-24 from Pima Community College) would rather pay the extra $20 or wait an extra 45 minutes for an Uber/Lyft driver to become available.

The results concluded that 39 of 50 students would rather wait than pay. This survey shows that Uber and Lyft should have consulted with their users before raising prices.

Here I am thinking that whoever invented Lyft and Uber had a main goal of helping to provide cheap, easy and reliable rides for people who want to get to where they are going.

In my humble opinion, that person is doing a crummy job. College students should not, under any circumstances, have to pay prime time for services that are supposedly the “best deal” for rides,

Pima Community College sophomore Isabel Forsman is from Hagerstown, Maryland. She is a studying political science and plans to pursue a career in law after completing her education.

Longtime writing instructor Meg Files retiring

Longtime writing instructor Meg Files retiring

Writing instructor Meg Files leads her final department chair meeting on Nov. 18. (Eddie Celaya/Aztec Press)


When Pima Community College writing instructor Meg Files earned a master’s degree in English, she didn’t realize teaching would become her vocation.

“I didn’t know I would love teaching,” she said. “Once I started teaching, I knew this is what I was meant to be.”

Files has reshaped the West Campus writing and journalism department since she arrived in 1987. At the time, the department offered just one creative writing class and one poetry class.

Nearly 30 years later, with Files as department chair, the program offers a wide range of classes.

Writing instructor Mic Denfeld has worked with Files since 1993.

“Meg is always the person who is looking for creative writing, how to encourage creative writers,” she said.

“As a department chair, she takes care of the curriculum, she makes out the schedules, hires new writing instructors and she is the go-to person for most issues that arise,” Denfeld added.

In addition to teaching, Files has written novels, short stories and poems. She has won many awards for her work.

“I like to be able to really inhabit a life, in a world other than my own,” she said. “Although some of the lives and the worlds I create have some similarity to mine, they are not mine.”

Creating stories involves a relationship with characters, Files noted.

“Someone once described a short story as like having an affair and a novel as like having a marriage,” she said, laughing.

In April, Files celebrated the launch of a second edition of her nonfiction book, “Writing What You Know: How to Turn Personal Experiences into Publishable Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry,” published by Allworth Press.

The book includes new information, new stories written by her students and sections about blogging.

Files also established the well-regarded Pima Writers’ Workshop in 1988.

It started as a weekend seminar and discussion group held in a portable trailer behind the West Campus A building with three faculty members and 40 students.

The workshop blossomed into an annual three-day event held at the college’s Center for the Arts complex with more than a dozen faculty and 300-plus students.

It held its final session last May, however, and Files will soon end her tenure as a full-time PCC instructor. She will retire at the end of the current semester.

“It has been an honor to spend much of my career here at Pima and an honor to work with my fabulous colleagues and all of my special students,” Files said. “They are all special.”

Files will still teach at conferences, do consulting work and continue overseeing the Tucson Festival of Books literary awards and masters’ workshop.

She also wants to finish a book she has been writing for a while, and hopes to write more.

Immediate plans include travel. She’s already booked a trip to Iceland, where she hopes to experience the Northern lights.

Files said she will miss her colleagues and students.

“They have been so inspirational to me,” she said. “There is so much talent here among the faculty and among the students. It is amazing.”

Obituaries: Javier Alcaraz

Obituaries: Javier Alcaraz


Javier Alcaraz, a former Pima Community College instructor in Spanish and French classes, died on April 2 due to pancreatic cancer. He was 88.

The family will hold a memorial service on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 601 E. Fort Lowell Road. A reception will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Javier Alcaraz’s name to Casa De Los Ninos Crisis Nursery or the Salvation Army.

Alcaraz, who studied in Mexico, Spain, Paris and Rome, taught at the Downtown Campus from 1978 until he retired in 2000. He became the head of the language department toward the end of his career.

After retiring, Alcaraz moved to Spokane, Washington, with his wife Teresa Alcaraz. However, he often returned to Tucson to visit friends.

Daughter Veronique Alcaraz remembers her father leaving advice for her to live by.

“He certainly imparted the love of learning and also the love of caring for other people,” she said. “That’s because of his background as a teacher. He was very passionate about his students and he was a very caring parent and was devoted to his wife.”

For more information about the memorial service, call the Sacred Heart Church at 888-1530

BEST BETS: Your go-to guide for making the most of winter

BEST BETS: Your go-to guide for making the most of winter

(Photo courtesy of Fourth Avenue Street Fair)

Compiled by Katelyn Roberts

Since Tucson has limited chilly nights, locals have to make them count. This Best Bets is all about getting some fun in before it gets too cold and enjoying the holidays before we get too busy.


Tohono Chul Holiday Nights        

Dec. 9-10, 16-17

Paths along the Tohono Chul gardens at 7366 N. Paseo del Norte will be decorated with millions of lights as musicians and artists perform from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Telescopes will be available for star-gazing, and vendors will sell hot chocolate and treats.

Admission is $16 for nonmembers, $12 for members and $3 for children under 12.



“La Pastorela”

Through Dec. 11

Borderlands Theater’s “La Pastorela” holiday production is a comedic and culturally relevant nativity story based in the Southwest.

Performances will take place in the Cabaret at the Temple of Music and Art, 300 S. Scott Ave. General admission costs $22. Seniors get in for $18 and students for $12.



Zoo Lights at Reid Park

Through Dec. 23

Reid Park Zoo will celebrate the season with Zoo Lights, presenting animal-themed light sculptures from 6-8 p.m. each night. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Admission costs $9.50 for adults and $5.50 for children ages 2-14, with discounts for zoo members. Tickets can be purchased online.



Luminaria Nights, Botanical Gardens

Dec. 11-13

Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way, presents Luminaria Nights from 5:30-8:30 p.m. each night.

Festivities include live holiday music as visitors walk garden paths decorated with luminarias and colored lights. Children can visit with Santa Claus, and vendors will offer holiday drinks, food and treats for purchase.

Admission is $18 for adults and $9 for children, with discounts for members. Tickets can be purchased online 24 hours in advance.

Parking at the Gardens is limited to handicapped spots. Shuttles will run 5:20-9 p.m. from the southeast corner of North Alvernon Way and East Lee Street.



Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair

Dec. 9-11

More than 600,000 visitors are expected to visit the annual street fair, which features 400-plus arts and crafts booths from 10 a.m. to dusk each day. Free and family-friendly activities include musicians, bands and entertainment.

Tip your baristas well (working the Fair separates the weak from the strong) and respect your vendors (most of them aren’t from these parts).



Winterhaven Festival of Lights

Dec. 10-26

Houses in Winterhaven display lights and decorations daily from 6-10 p.m. Admisison is free, but the neighborhood asks visitors to donate non-perishable canned food or money for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.



“A Southwest Nutcracker”

Dec. 10-11

 Tucson Regional Ballet’s “A Southwest Nutcracker” provides a local twist on the original. It’s set in the 1880s and includes coyotes, rattlesnakes and dancing chili peppers.

Performances will be at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Shows are at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 11. Tickets can be purchased online and cost $36.



“The Nutcracker-Rat King”

Dec. 12-13

Moscow Ballet comes to Tucson for ballet performances of “The Nutcracker-Rat King” with crystal-embedded costumes and Tchaikovsky included.

Performances will be at University of Arizona Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. The show begins at 7 p.m., and tickets start at $30.



Merry-Achi Christmas at the Fox Tucson Theatre

Dec. 16

What is more spirited and intense than mariachi performances and Christmas festivities? Nothing, that’s what.

Fox Theatre’s Merry-Achi Christmas features Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez. Tickets are $24-$58, and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.



Downtown Parade of Lights

Dec. 17

Parade of Lights floats, vehicles and entertainers start making their way through downtown at 6:30 p.m. while Santa Claus waits at the Historic Train Depot for visitors. Admission is free.



“It’s a Wonderful Life” at Fox Theatre

Dec. 20

The magical 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” will screen at the Tucson Fox Theatre at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.


WOMEN'S SOCCER: Veliz a role model for her players

WOMEN’S SOCCER: Veliz a role model for her players

Women’s soccer head coach Kendra Veliz walks the field Oct. 20 after her 200th career win at Pima Community College. (Photo by Ben Carbajal)


Thump, thump, swoosh goes the soccer ball as it hits the player’s cleat. It’s a familiar sound to Kendra Veliz’s ears as she monitors players during a scrimmage.

“Mark a man,” she calls. “Open up.”

In a sports world heavily dominated by men, Veliz has spent 15 years making a name for herself as head coach for the Pima Community College women’s soccer team.

Veliz was named Arizona Community College Athletic Conference coach of the year in her first year of coaching the PCC Aztecs. Since then she has been voted ACCAC coach of the year four times.

This season, the Aztecs compiled a 16-6-1 record and took second place in the regional championship. Veliz celebrated her 200th career win at Pima with a home victory over Arizona Western College on Oct. 20.

The Aztecs have been crowned National Junior College Athletic Association District A and NJCAA Region I champions three times. The team has also been ACCAC champions five times, most recently in 2015.

Of the 14 sports teams at PCC, Veliz is the only female head coach. The next highest ranking belongs to Rebekah Quiroz, an associate head coach for the softball team.

“To me it’s inspiring,” freshman defender Emily Bliven said. “Many of the teams we’ve faced have male head coaches. It is very much a male-dominated position. To me, that shows just how good she is at her job.”

Veliz said she has never felt pressure to prove herself as a female coach. Instead, she deals with pressures that all coaches face, like the need to improve her team and win championships.

A player at age 9

Veliz began her soccer career in the early ‘80s at age 9 with the Fort Lowell Sidewinders. The Tucson club team made it to the Final Four in the National Soccer Tournament and was a Region IV champion three times. They were also Arizona state champions for five consecutive years.

She later played defense for three years on the Sahuaro High School varsity team.

The city’s soccer scene has exploded since Veliz’s time playing. Semi-professional men’s and women’s FC Tucson teams have emerged in the past six years and made a home for themselves at Kino Sports Complex.

Tucson also brings in professional soccer players annually for the Major League Soccer preseason and Desert Diamond Cup.

“There’s definitely a lot more soccer,” Veliz said. “Currently there’s just overall more of an interest in kids playing. There are more teams than when I played. So within the city of Tucson, you can now find more competition compared to when I was playing.”

After high school, Veliz knew she wanted to experience soccer somewhere other than Tucson.

She took an interest in Boston College’s Division I soccer squad after a BC assistant coach distributed pamphlets at a Sidewinder game during a tournament.

As a Boston College Eagle, Veliz was named to the Big East Conference Academic All-Star Team in 1993 and 1994. She was named MVP in her last year at Boston.

“With playing in college, it gives me the experience to say I’ve been there and done that,” she said. “I’ve been through college and played, and I know the demands and the expectations.”

Dual coaching jobs

Veliz accepted coaching positions in 2001 at both PCC and at the newly established Tucson Soccer Academy. In addition to working with college athletes, she coaches two girls’ TSA squads: for ages under-8 and under-10.

Eddie Hernandez, a TSA coach and former Pima soccer player, called Veliz a tough player who never gave up. “She’s a hard worker and I would say a lot of that translates into how she is as a coach,” he said.

Veliz has earned one of soccer’s highest certifications, a United States Soccer Federation National B license. It focuses on principles of long-term player development and team development for older teenage athletes who play at an elite level.

Veliz said she always knew soccer would play a major role in her life but never imagined she would coach a PCC game at Kino Sports Complex and then travel to the other side of town for TSA practice at Brandi Fenton Park.

“Especially with the youth, it’s really exciting when you see them improve,” Veliz said. “The excitement they exude from achieving something is contagiou. It’s a really great moment.”

She has a slightly different goal for her college players.

“Collegiately, it’s about giving local student-athletes the opportunity they may not have otherwise,” she said.

Veliz struggles to strike a balance between work and family.

“It’s difficult,” she said. “There’s a little too many quick dinners. Since I coach youth in the evening, it definitely makes it challenging.”

For that reason, she limits her coaching to local club teams. “I try not to choose the traveling teams because that takes away from my kids,” she said.

Providing inspiration

Dave Cosgrove, PCC men’s soccer head coach and a TSA co-founder, said Veliz inspires both her players and her colleagues.

“I’m not sure she has an extra responsibility to motivate young women but she does motivate them,” he said. “She motivates myself and the rest of the coaching staff to continue to improve, never to settle and to inspire our athletes, both men and women.”

Veliz models the type of behaviors, morals, ethics and hard work to which all players and coaches should aspire, Cosgrove added.

“Watching Kendra work, I think anyone would desire to pursue coaching, especially young women,” he said.

As she works with females of varying age groups with unique backgrounds, Veliz continuously opens herself up to players who are interested in pursuing coaching.

“It’s important to encourage these young ladies that are just becoming adults,” she said. “These young adults are very impressionable and so it’s important to have female role models in coaching positions to guide them and hopefully give them a chance at a coaching future as well.”

Several of Veliz’s former PCC players now help coach their high school or club team, including at Tanque Verde High School and the FC Sonora Soccer Club.

“She has inspired me to become a coach,” Bliven said. “I know she will help me become the best coach I can be.”

Veliz welcomes the opportunity to be a role model.

“I think overall, there is a comfort level,” she said. “I mean, your experience has been with women up to that point and that’s how you feel you could contribute and help the most with other women and giving them the opportunities.”

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs push ahead after dominating November schedule

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs push ahead after dominating November schedule

Sophomore guard Denesia Smith launches for a layup during a Dec. 3 game against Glendale Community College. (Nicholas Trujillo/Aztec Press)


The Pima Community College women’s basketball team (8-2, 3-1 in ACCAC) lost just one game in November, and hopes to continue that momentum.

“The month of November was about as good as it could go, outside of the game against New Mexico Junior College,” head women’s basketball coach Todd Holthaus said. “I guess so far, so good.”

Sophomore Sydni Stallworth earned ACCAC Division II player of the week honors on Nov. 28. She averaged 13.6 point, 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals in the first seven games.

Nov. 22: PCC 88, Tohono O’odham CC 51

The Aztecs opened the first quarter with a double-digit lead and continued scoring unanswered points for an 88-51 home conference win over Tohono O’odham Community College.

Pima started the game with a 9-0 run, which led to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter. An 11-0 run in the second quarter put the Aztecs up 32-7. After half time, the team went on a 12-0 run for a 65-27 lead in the third quarter.

Stallworth lead the team with 19 points, going for 57 percent beyond the arc. Freshman Katey Roquemore and sophomore Bailey Johnson each scored 10 points off the bench. The team outrebounded TOCC, 54-29.

Nov. 30: PCC 104, Chandler-Gilbert CC 34

The Aztecs closed out November with their sixth straight win, defeating Chandler-Gilbert Community College by a 70-point margin. PCC did not let the Coyotes score double digits in any quarter except the third.

“It was a little rough in the beginning, we were kind of anxious for no reason,” sophomore Denesia Smith said. “After the first five minutes of the first quarter, we started to relax and play our game.”

Smith finished with a team-high 20 points, plus five assists and five steals. Chandler-Gilbert transfer Bree Cates scored 14 points against her old team.

Dec. 3: PCC 74, Glendale CC 51

Pima started December with its seventh straight win, defeating the Glendale Community College Gauchos in a 74-51 home victory.

The team wasted no time in the first half to take a 50-36 lead into the break. The Gauchos responded with an 11-3 run that trickled into the beginning minutes of the fourth quarter, but a 21-4 run by Stallworth and freshman Alliyah Bryant sealed the game.

Smith finished with 19 points, seven steals and three assists. Stallworth and Cates both scored 14 points.

Dec. 7: PCC 86, Eastern Arizona College 88

Eastern Arizona College was the conference champ last year, defeating PCC by five points in the championship game.

This year was an even closer match up as the Aztecs lost by two points, 88-86, in overtime.

The game was a back-and-forth battle between the Gila Monsters and the Aztecs. PCC found a lead in the third quarter but was overtaken by a 14-4 run in the fourth.

PCC freshman Izzy Spruit sunk a three-pointer with 12 seconds left to tie the game 76-76 and force overtime, where the Aztecs ultimately met their loss.

Stallworth finished as the top scorer with 21 points, while Spruit and Cates were next with 15 points each.



Dec 10: at South Mountain CC, Phoenix, 2 p.m.

Dec. 28: Dawson CC at Bruce Fleck Classic, West Campus gym, 7 p.m.

Dec. 30: Arizona Christian University JV at Bruce Fleck Classic, West Campus gym, 5 p.m.