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Mica Mountain opens up athletic competition in the Thunderdome

JV-A (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

There’s a new high school in Southern Arizona and the Thunderbolts are ready to play. Located in the Vail School District, Mica Mountain is the third high school hosting athletic competition in the district with Cienega starting in 2001 and Empire in 2005.

Legendary football coach Nemer Hassey serves as the school’s first principal and another coaching legend, Jay Campos, is the assistant principal. Longtime athletic director Whitney Holland brings structure and stability to the program and athletic secretary Terri Smith came over from Empire and she provides the experience and reliability that is rare in a new high school.

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The program is not taking part in varsity competition this year but there is another coaching legend on staff in head volleyball coach Amy Johnson (702-200-36). Johnson was a power at Salpointe with two state runner-up finishes on the boy’s side and she reestablished Sabino’s program before moving over to Mica Mountain this fall.

Johnson’s 702 combined wins is one shy of Ironwood Ridge head coach Bill Lang and her 938 varsity matches are third behind Lang (1,086) and former Rincon/UHS coach Juanita Kingston (972).

The Thunderbolts hosted Sahuarita in the “Thunderdome” on Tuesday in the first match ever in the name given to the gym located in the athletic complex on the campus. The campus, by the way, features the eighth football field in Southern Arizona to have artificial turf.

The freshman (JV-B) team, behind coach Angelika Hernandez, beat Sahuarita 25-21 and 25-22 and the JV team, led by Johnson, won 25-14 and 25-18. Hernandez was a setter at Salpointe (2015). Another former Salpointe standout, Sara (Gotchey) Douglas (2005) serves as an assistant coach.

JV-B (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee and was given the Amphi Distinguished Service Award. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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