ORO VALLEY, Arizona — With 13 regional championships in 16 years, Ironwood Ridge's passion for the game is matched only by its determination to get back on the court.
On Monday, the girls held their first practice of the season.
"It’s something we’ve all been fighting for the last couple of months, so I think it’s really special to be here," said senior co-captain Ali Cordova.
Unable to practice due to restrictions from the Amphi school board, the Nighthawks campaigned for a safe return to the court. They put up signs around Oro Valley that look similar to political candidate signage. And Cordova spoke at an Amphi board meeting with teammate Sophia Gomez by her side. She gave an impassioned plea with statements that include how practicing would benefit the team's mental health.
"To me, being able to go to that board meeting and talk was me saying that this isn’t just our coaches wanting to get back in the gym, but the players also wanting to be back. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to be back."
"I was listening to it online," said longtime head coach Bill Lang. "I had goosebumps. To see one of our players take a leadership role, and to so eloquently speak. I was just super proud."
The board listened. Ironwood Ridge is finally back in the gym, and the girls are following all the necessary coronavirus safety protocols. Masks stay on at all times. If all goes well, the Nighthawks will be cleared for competition on October 12th, and they will then play a stretch of 14 matches in just 24 days.
"If we can keep up what we’re doing in the gym right now, I think we can have the season that we deserve," said Cordova.