Ironwood Ridge standout Shana Brown named Southern Arizona Student Athlete of the Year

(Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Southern Arizona Student-Athlete of the Year: Shana Brown

The Tucson Citizen profiled the city’s finest high school student-athletes from 1957 through 2008 and the tradition of recognizing only the very best was continued on the pages of the TucsonCitizen.com website. We have continued this tradition at AllSportsTucson.com since 2014.

16 graduating seniors submitted an application and those were judged on academics, athletics, leadership, service to their school and on a one-page essay on who influenced them most in their lives. This year, the award came with a scholarship worth $500.

Ironwood Ridge soccer standout Shana Brown was chosen in a final round between two applicants. Named the “Most Valuable Player” by the Nighthawks, the defender helped lead her team to the 5A state final last winter. She was named to the 5A All-State First Team by the coaches and she earned All-Southern Arizona First Team recognition by AllSportsTucson. More importantly, the Midland commit received a varsity academic letter as a scholar and she was president of the Yearbook Club.

Shana with her mother Stephanie.


Influence can mean anything from one moment where someone believed in you when no one else did, to the never ending support of family members. The easy route would be to say my parents, in this case my mother, influenced me the most. Although she did influence me in everything I did, I think someone that influenced who I currently am the most would be my high school and club coach, Sean Watkins. Not only did he believe in me on the field, but he guided me and helped me through tough times when I had no one else to go to. During my sophomore year I was in a very low place and I didn’t have anyone who understood my situation, until I discovered that he was at a similar point in his life. He allowed me to see the brighter side and assess the situation from a different standpoint. Had I not had this influence during this time, I don’t think I would have become the person that I am today.

Not only did Watkins help me off the field, but on the field as well. He believed that I could lead a team like no one else and I understood the visions of the game that he had. He put his faith and confidence in me which allowed me to lead the team on the field when he couldn’t. When voted captain, I became his right-hand-man and his go-to for addressing any problems with the team. By putting this trust in me as a leader, he silently pushed me to become a better version of myself not only for me, but for the sake of my teammates and our performance. I’m doing so, my confidence on the field increased and my team’s trust in me increased as well. Watkins showed the faith in me that allowed my team to look to me when they were down and needed to lift their heads up. He wasn’t afraid to call me out when I made a mistake and guide me into the right direction from those mistakes. This allowed me to become a strong, thoughtful, and persistent leader. He developed my character into someone who based their needs off what the team needed, and life is about being a team player.

Not only did my character develop through the help and guidance of my coach, but my behavior was affected as well. I am typically a hard-headed, stubborn teenager, but he prepared me to face the fact that being stubborn gets you nowhere. When faced with a challenge, I would typically cower and try to avoid the situation by finding the reasons not to do so. After the influence of Watkins, I learned to face challenges head on, while also seeing other perspectives and making new additions to my approach, no matter what it was. I was shaped into a leader and someone that people could look to when they needed help or needed someone to lean on. Without the guidance and teaching from Watkins, I don’t think I could’ve taken in this behavioral trait of a motivator. Of course a parent can teach you to be helpful and caring to the people that are closest to you, but when an outside influence teaches you the same, they teach a new perspective. They show you that there is more to being helpful and caring for people, you can do it in many ways without even realizing it. For example, when you are a part of a team and the team is losing a game, they look to someone to step up and take them to a victory. Without realizing it, I became that person through the guidance of my coach and he taught me that I needed to keep my head up because if I did, then everyone would settle down and realize we would be okay. It was a simple gesture like learning to hold your head high that can change your behavior, your character, and your effect on your teammates.

Without Coach Watkins, I wouldn’t have become the strong, determined leader that I have wanted to be. I wouldn’t have pushed myself to be better not only for myself, but for the sake of everyone around me. I wouldn’t have learned to hold my head high in times when I wanted to put my chin down. My character, my behavior, and my overall persona of a soccer player and of a leader is from the teaching of Sean Watkins, and for that I am thankful.

Shana Brown

(Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

1957 D.L. Secrist Jr. Tucson High
1958 Donald Parsons Catalina
1959 Edward Brown Flowing Wells
1960 Terry DeJonghe Salpointe
1961 Robert Svob Catalina
1962 Ray Kosanke Tucson High
1963 Michael Aboud Tucson High
1964 Pat McAndrew Flowing Wells
1965 Charles Begley Sunnyside
1966 Eric Evett Catalina
1967 Ron Curry Tucson High
1968 Jeff Lovin Palo Verde
1969 Bruce Pawlowski Salpointe
1970 Dave Henry Sahuaro
1971 Tom Hagen Salpointe
1972 Bill Baechler Palo Verde
1973 Francisco Gomez Pueblo
1974 Richard Rucker Canyon del Oro
1975 Guillermo Robles Sunnyside
1976 Karen Christensen Rincon
1977 Michael Wing Rincon
1978 Craig Barker Amphitheater
1979 Ralph Gay Sunnyside
1980 Kristine Bush Sabino
1981 Lisa Kay Baker Sahuaro
1982 Vickie Patton Marana
1983 Martin Tetreault Sahuaro
1984 Molly Reiling Salpointe
1985 Timothy Roggeman Salpointe
1986 Jon Volpe Amphitheater
1987 Luis A. Padilla Pueblo
1988 Nicole Stern Catalina
1989 Robert Moen Flowing Wells
1990 Grace O’Neill Salpointe
1991 Angel Phillips Rincon
1992 Zenen Salazar Sunnyside
1993 Michelle Vielledent Sahuaro
1994 Julie Reitan Sahuaro and Brady Bennon Sabino
1995 Kelly Yablonski University High
1996 Joe Aguirre Palo Verde
1997 Andy Viner University High
1998 Scott Beck Canyon del Oro
1999 Glenn Schatz University High
2000 Nicole Voelkel University High
2001 Ai-ris Yonekura Catalina Foothills
2002 Philo Sanchez Sunnyside
2003 Tim Ashcraft Sahuaro
2004 Joe Kay Tucson High
2005 Tiffany Hosten Tucson High and Echo Fallon Catalina Foothills
2006 Michael Smith Sunnyside
2007 Tara Erdmann Flowing Wells
2008 James Eichberger Catalina

2009 Sun Park Cienega
2010 Christine Clark Tucson High
2011 LeeAndra Smith Palo Verde
2012 Rachel Ward (Pusch Ridge) and Robin Landrith (Ironwood Ridge)
2013 Mally McGarity (Marana) and Asha Esprit (University High)

2014 Amanda Nicholas Sahuaro
2015 Laura McGeary Flowing Wells and Courtney Brown Flowing Wells
2016 Cheyenne Pitts Mountain View
2017 Jacqueline Igulu Palo Verde
2018 Tyson Corner Marana
2019 Luc Rosenblatt Salpointe
2020 Shana Brown Ironwood Ridge

(Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)


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 is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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