By Lee Patterson
I had every intention of getting part 4 of this series done last week. That just wasn’t in the cards, though. But nonetheless, I’ve got the Fort Thomas Apaches championship totals all calculated up. You will also find the Gila Valley totals at the end of this story as well. It has been a blast doing the research on the Gila Valley athletics. I’ve been here 18 years and learned new information. I can only imagine how much information overload was going on with new Gila Valley residents. I hope you enjoyed reading these little stories as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Fort Thomas Apaches
Volleyball — 4
(1977, 1986, 2003, 2005)
The Lady Apaches have had 4 different head coaches lead them to State Volleyball Championships. Victoria Pyform in ’77, Barbara Stauffer in ’86, Vanta Moses in ’03 and Janene Ward in ’05. Coach Stauffer made the title game 4 other times as well.
Boys Basketball — 11
(1963, 1967, 1980, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2005)
Fort Thomas has had a great history of basketball. Honk Norton got it all started in 1963 with a 20-1 team and a win over Ed Hubbard and Pima in the title game. He won his second in 1967. Jerry Hancock – whom the Fort Thomas gym is named after – picked up his lone state title in 1980. Bill Stiver would win the next 3 for the Apaches in 1989, then again back to back in ’94 and ’95. Will Hinton took over in ’96 and ’97 to complete 4 in a row on the hardwood. Current Safford head coach, Terry Williams, would win the final 3 for the Apaches including back to back in 2000 and 2001.
Girls Basketball — 2
Barbara Stauffer added another state title in 1986 with the girls hoops squad. Vanta Moses also picked up another title in 2006 with a win over Pima 60-45.
17 State Championships for Fort Thomas. Not bad for the smallest school in the Gila Valley. In the late 90’s, the Apaches Boys Hoops teams were some of the best the 1A, and probably bigger leagues, have seen.
What a great tradition the Gila Valley has at the State Tournament. After we add the 17 Fort Thomas titles the Gila Valley grand total is… 225! I feel completely confident in calling Gila Valley athletics a dynasty, don’t you?
Not only as the Gila Valley seen some great players and teams, they have seen some outstanding coaches! These coaches spend long hours, many of which are unpaid, to help better the youth of the Gila Valley. You can’t have a dynasty without a leader and the Gila Valley is ripe with great men and women who have made these great memories possible.
I’m not going to lie, this ended up being a much bigger project that I originally anticipated. Now I turn my focus to football playoffs coming up soon. Thanks for reading!