Former Amphitheater Physical Education teacher Robert Wenzel passed away this past weekend at his home at the age of 61 from unknown causes. Wenzel guided the 2008 Pusch Ridge Little squad to the Junior League Softball World Series championship, one of only three teams from the greater Tucson area to ever win a World Series title.
Wenzel became a contractor after retiring from teaching at Coronado K-8 school and his two children, Caleb and Micah, were standout athletes at Ironwood Ridge. His son-in-law, Mackenzie Samuelsen, guided the Sabino girls soccer team to a runner-up finish last year.
Wenzel, along with his assistants Steve Noland and Greg Sneyd, led an actual “All-Star” group of athletes to that 2008 World Series championship including former Canyon del Oro and Stanford standout Kayla Bonstrom and former Ironwood Ridge and New Mexico state standout Makayla McAdams.
“In life itself, you have goals and ambitions,” Wenzel remarked in an interview given to the Little League organization. “No matter what you do, there’s a lot of reward in the grind. They realized nothing was going to be handed to them.”
One of his former players from that championship squad, Maria-Victoria Valencia, posted the following on his Facebook page:
“With an extremely heavy heart, I was saddened to hear of the loss of my elementary and middle school PE teacher, my high school softball coach, my Little League world series softball coach, one of my life mentors, and dear friend…has passed away. I feel so blessed that I was able to recently visit with you. Thank you for being an incredible man in my life. Another angel in heaven.”
2008 PUSCH RIDGE LITTLE LEAGUE ROSTER
Alexis Aguirre (Canyon del Oro/Yavapai/Eastern Arizona)
Kayla Bonstrom (Canyon del Oro/Stanford)
Megan Duran (Ironwood Ridge)
Casey Fisher (Ironwood Ridge/Brown)
Katie Flaten (Ironwood Ridge)
Makayla McAdams (Ironwood Ridge/New Mexico State)
Sammi Noland (Canyon del Oro/Nebraska/Oregon State)
Nicole Reidhead (Ironwood Ridge)
Lauren Robinson (Ironwood Ridge/Northwest University)
Jordan Rocker (Ironwood Ridge/Auburn)
Sarah Rodriguez (Ironwood Ridge)
Elle Sneyd (Ironwood Ridge)
Maria Valencia (Ironwood Ridge)
Micah Wenzel (Ironwood Ridge/Northwest University Soccer)
Manager: Rob Wenzel
Coach: Steve Noland
Coach: Greg Sneyd
There will be a celebration of life on the morning of August 27 at Casas Church in Oro Valley. More information coming later.
NOTE: Luis Galvan led Sunnyside to the 1992 Junior League Baseball Championship and Rene Ayala guided Sunnyside to the 2013 Little League Softball Championship. Nogales won the 2014 Intermediate League Baseball Championship.
Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was 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 and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a 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, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org