Shane Folsom‘s credibility is already having an impact on Mica Mountain three games into its first varsity season at the Cowboy Up Classic at the Kino Sports Complex.
The Thunderbolts have won three games to open the event with a 13-3 win Thursday over Desert Christian and two wins Saturday — 7-6 over Yuma and 13-8 against Pueblo.
Folsom has taken on the challenge of coaching a struggling program at Catalina and keeping Sabino a championship-level program. He coached the Sabercats to 3A state titles in 2019 and 2021.
Now comes the opportunity of building a successful program from scratch at Mica Mountain, the newest high school in Southern Arizona that opened its doors before the 2020-21 school year.
“It’s been good,” Folsom said of his experience coaching the Thunderbolts through preseason drills. “It’s been a little rough just because the kids are a little young over at Mica. They’re freshmen and sophomores mostly and we have a very complex system we’re kind of implementing.
“Trying to get them to learn everything we want them to know and get them up to speed has been a little challenging at times but they’re really responding and they’re a great group of kids.”
He mentioned many of the freshmen and sophomores would normally be on the junior varsity team, a roster challenge football coach Pat Nugent and all the other Thunderbolts coaches had to endure this school year.
“We’re just trying to establish that winning culture, that winning attitude and work ethic,” Folsom said.
Folsom, a Desert View graduate, has the kind of work ethic to make Mica Mountain a winner faster than what might be expected.
When he’s not coaching, he’s operating concession stands — including serving customers himself — at various events in order to raise funds for his program.
He has taken on the lead role in organizing the Cowboy Up Classic at the Kino Sports Complex. The annual event includes 28 high school teams including four from El Paso, Texas.
We started covering Elijah Higuera with Rincon LL more than 5 years ago. Freshman now at @mmhs_gobolts. He was the winning pitcher in his first start in Thunderbolts’ first varsity game Thursday, 13-3 win over Desert Christian (8 K’s/0 walks in 5 IP) in Cowboy Up Classic. pic.twitter.com/Fr8mq362hm
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) February 25, 2022
“I just enjoy the game of baseball and it’s meant a lot to me,” Folsom said. “I want to give back to the kids and the community and see everybody succeed. Everything comes together that way.”
Freshman right-hander Elijah Higuera is an example of the young yet very promising talent Folsom is coaching at Mica Mountain.
The former Rincon Little League All-Star was not overwhelmed starting the school’s first varsity game against Desert Christian on Thursday. He pitched five innings in the game that ended by mercy rule. He struck out eight with no walks.
Higuera said pitching with Rincon Little League “helped a lot because they taught us in drills, like balance.”
— tucson’s_SC (@tucson_s) February 24, 2022
Knowing that he’s embarking on four years in the progam has him excited because fellow freshmen and sophomores will develop with him for a few years before graduating.
They are certainly off to a memorable start.
“It’s exciting; it’s exciting to see the kids — we’ve kind of built it up for them,” Folsom said of winning the opener against Desert Christian. “This was their first varsity game. A lot of firsts. We took the first-pitch baseball out and we have that to give to the school, have it in a little case.
“We took a game ball and had all the kids sign it, the first varsity win in school history. It was exciting for us but for the kids it was really exciting. They were really motivated to get that so it was good to see.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.