DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Opening win helps golf team set course for success

Sanitized for safety and saunatized due to the hot weather, the Xavier Prep Gators embarked on their new golf journey at Phoenix Country Club on Wednesday (Aug. 26) with a 24-shot victory over Phoenix Horizon in the first competition for an XCP team of any kind this fall.

Other Xavier teams will follow suit in the coming weeks as many students will return to classes at the school on Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day. Students will choose one of three options for their academics, full-time on campus, a split schedule with part-time campus and part-time online, and full-time online as they have been doing.

Xavier has been doing this golf thing for many years and doing it well, and this year’s team certainly appears to be capable of challenging for the school’s 37th state championship.

One of the team leaders is junior Ivy Song, who took medalist honors against Horizon with a 1-under-par 35. But she was not the lowest Gator of the day.

That distinction went to a young freshman who was not among the players who figured into the final team scoring total (this is capable of changing with every match). Perhaps after her 5-under 31, Kyla Layman may come closer to being a front-line fixture.

“Everybody congratulated her (Layman). That’s the sign of a great team to support her the way they supported her,’’ said XCP co-head coach and Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor.

Song is showing the consistency that surfaced in her first two years, particularly as a sophomore.

The other three players contributing to the 148-stroke team total (four of five eligible players score) in this match were sophomore Annie Dawson (even-par 36), senior and Lauren Garcia (2-over 38) and freshman Jayden Jevnick (3-over 39).

Makenna Cabardo (36) was the top finisher for Horizon, which was at 172.

Players moved about the course in the traditional electric golf carts, which normally are not allowed. This rule was relaxed because of the heat, with the temperature eclipsing 110.

Xavier’s girls followed school protocol while preparing to play. They wore masks, although not during their round (before and after). Temperatures were taken when they arrived at the course. The girls had a daily symptom check on their cell phones. Their hands and arms were sanitized.  And, of course, they made certain they had the proper hydration.

“It was a good start, a good beginning for us,’’ Winsor said. “Tui (co-head coach Tui Selvaratnam) and I are very pleased. We played some very good golf under some horrid conditions.’’

Xavier’s next match will be on Monday (Aug. 31) against Glendale Mountain Ridge at the Legend Golf Resort (Glendale Arrowhead). The Gators will return to Phoenix CC on Sept. 2 to face Chandler Basha.

Xavier 148, Horizon 172
*Contributing to team total
Kyla Layman 31, *Ivy Song 35, *Annie Dawson 36, Kalyn Doss 36, Lauren Campbell 36, Mary Beth Doss 38, *Lauren Garcia 38, *Jayden Jevnick 39, Lena Durette 40, Katie Hauptman 42, Kate Ryan 42, Ava Mayberger 43, Audrey Sanchez 43, Grace Rubelsky 45, Karter Nannen 45, Sophie Stamatis 50.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Golf is the first Xavier team to tee it up

Xavier Prep’s Gators, please report to the first tee. Your 2020 golf season is about to begin!!

Wednesday (Aug. 26) is the day that the Gators hope to use a strong match against Phoenix Horizon at the Phoenix Country Club to put them on the road to another strong finish.

They have won 36 state championships and nearly won a 37th last fall until Phoenix Pinnacle put on a championship effort of its own to claim the crown by 16 shots with Xavier taking home the runner-up trophy.

So now it’s time for the Gators to start a new streak.

From top, Mary Beth Doss, Ivy Song and Annie Dawson (Xavier photos).

Coached by Sr. Lynn Winsor, Tui Selvaratnam and assistant Jane Ladensack, XCP will be led by senior Mary Beth Doss, junior Ivy Song and sophomore Annie Dawson. Doss finished in a tie for 16th at last year’s state tournament at the Omni Tucson National Resort, and Song and Dawson shared the No. 18 spot.

Lauren Garcia joins Doss as the team’s other senior. There are four juniors – Song, Ava Mayberger, Kate Ryan and Audrey Sanchez. Dawson and Sophie Stamatis are the two sophomores.

And the coaches will be closely watching the maturation process of eight freshmen – Lauren Campbell, Kalyn Doss, Lena Durette, Kate Hauptman, Jayden Jevnick, Kyla Layman, Karter Nannen and Grace Rubelsky.

Xavier will play 10 regular-season matches and two invitationals before returning to Tucson for the state tournament on Oct. 26 and 27.

Coaches – Tui Selvaratnam, Sr. Lynn Winsor and Jane Ladensack.
Seniors – Mary Beth Doss, Lauren Garcia.
Juniors – Ava Mayberger, Kate Ryan, Audrey Sanchez, Ivy Song.
Sophomores – Annie Dawson, Sophie Stamatis.
Freshmen – Lauren Campbell, Kalyn Doss, Lena Durette, Kate Hauptman, Jayden Jevnick, Kyla Layman, Karter Nannen, Grace Rubelsky.

(Subject to change)
Wednesday, Aug. 26 – Phoenix Horizon @ Phoenix Country Club, 3 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 31 – Glendale Mountain Ridge @ Legend Golf Resort, Glendale Arrowhead, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 2 – Chandler Basha @ Phoenix CC, 3 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 4 and Saturday, Sept. 5 – Antigua National Invitational  @ Whirlwind Golf Resort, Chandler, Time TBA.
Wednesday, Sept. 9 – Mesa Desert Ridge and Phoenix Desert Vista @ Foothills West GC, Ahwatukee, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 15 – Scottsdale Desert Mountain @ Phoenix CC, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 16 – Gilbert Perry @ Lone Tree Golf Course, Chandler, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 22 – Goodyear Millennium @ Phoenix CC, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 23 – Chandler Hamilton @ Phoenix CC, 3 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 28 – Tempe Corona del Sol @ Phoenix CC, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 30 – Chandler High and Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor @ Phoenix CC, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 20 – Aguila Invitational @ Aguila Golf Course, Laveen, Time TBA.
Monday, Oct. 26 and Tuesday, Oct. 27 – Division I state tournament @ Omni Tucson National Resort (Catalina Course), Times TBA.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Badminton open gym provides head start for players

There is a lot of work involved when playing badminton, learning all of the game’s intricacies and getting a sense of where to be on the court and when by trying to anticipate what your opponent is going to do.

That doesn’t just happen overnight.

And that is why the players working at Xavier Prep’s “open gym” at the Activity Center are using that to their advantage as tryouts approach during the first week of September, followed by the start of the 11-game regular season shortly thereafter. They want to get as much of a head start as they can.

With the COVID-19 virus continuing its route through the state and country and the stifling record heat here, “I think the girls are happy to be out of the house and they are excited to be here,’’ said XCP head badminton coach Laura Forbes, who is entering her second season as the team’s leader. “There is a lot of work involved, but I think they are really enjoying it.’’

Because COVID restrictions have limited a large number of participants at once, work is divided into two sessions, one for returning players plus those who have some experience, and another for those who are limited or perhaps being introduced to the game for the first time. Social distancing has Forbes and her assistants putting the same players in the same groups with no changing up.

When the athletes arrive each day, they fill out the daily symptom check on their cell phones, using the assigned app. Their temperatures are taken and their hands are sanitized, and the hands are sanitized again during the workout.

A handful of athletes who have played before bring their own racquets, while virtually everyone else is being assigned a racquet provided by the school, and those are being sanitized with spray bottles on a regular basis.

Xavier plays its first two regular-season matches on the road, on Sept. 15 at Scottsdale Chaparral, and on Sept. 17 at Phoenix Desert Vista (Ahwatukee). The Gators’ first home match will be Sept. 23 against three-time defending Division I state champion Gilbert Perry. Matches normally begin at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Gyms are open, and it's time to get busy

For a few days, at least, some of Xavier Prep’s top athletes have been able to walk through the doors of the school’s two gymnasiums and spread their wings.

With tryouts in the coming days for fall sports and the regular season following close behind, volleyball and badminton have been working in the “open gym’’ settings at Vestar Hall and the Activity Center, respectively.

On Wednesday (Aug. 12), it was volleyball’s turn to smack the ball back and forth over the net.

Volleyball head coach Lamar-Renee Bryant greeted nine returning players from last year’s 30-12 finisher as well as a promising re-connect with a senior player who saw action on the junior varsity team as a freshman, sat out two years with a few injury issues and is hopeful of making an impact on her return.

She is Phoebe Lewis, a 6-foot-2 player with club experience, and she is expected to line up most of the time as a middle blocker, giving the Gators a valuable presence at the net along with 6-1 junior middle Bella Sinacori.

Others on hand for open gym were junior outside hitter Tiffany Tellez, junior outside hitter Emma Soderstrom, senior defensive specialist/libero Kaori Robertson, sophomore middle/outside hitter Kate Tax, sophomore setter/outside hitter Lexi Yoza, junior defensive specialist Hannah Ulisch, junior setter Alexa Shiner and senior setter/opposite Zaira Reyes.

One of the main goals for the girls in the open gym time, according to Bryant, “is getting comfortable with COVID, cleaning and all that goes with it. We are going to play volleyball in a new COVID world and we have to get to the point where it is not as much of an issue, doing things by repetition.’’

Sanitizing the volleyballs probably is one of the most important things. Workouts feature a pair of rolling racks that hold about 15 volleyballs apiece. And volleyballs will be changed out after every point during matches.

When the players take water breaks during open gym, their first duty is to spray all of the volleyballs and allow them to dry, which takes about four minutes, Bryant said. They utilize a five-ball rotation.

If the 11-game regular season starts on time (Sept. 22 at defending 6A Conference champion Chandler Basha), Xavier players won’t be required to wear protective face masks while on the floor during matches, but will have to put on a covering when they are sitting on the bench and at other appropriate times.

Players and coaches will have their temperatures taken before practices and matches, just like they do before school during a regular day.

Xavier players have not been playing competitively over the summer, even at the club level. However, some have been taking private lessons and doing some scrimmaging in club. Bryant, who also is a club coach, said her team was ready to play in a tournament in Colorado when it was informed that the tournament was canceled on the first day.

“We were getting ready to take off (from the airport),’’ she said.

Next on the volleyball agenda will be tryouts, beginning Aug. 31. Players from the junior varsity and freshman levels are expected to fill the five or so remaining spots on the varsity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Food drive helps Spirit-liners reach out to community

Xavier Prep’s Spiritline athletes are starting their 2020-21 school year on a successful note.

They had been collecting food items and other goods and on Monday (Aug. 10) gave them to the St. Vincent de Paul community outreach for those less fortunate.

Spiritline member Tara Kelly and her family helped bring the idea to life, which included the gathering of non-perishable food items, paper towels, bathroom tissue or any other paper goods, shampoo, toothpaste or any other unopened toiletries and bottled drinking water.

Xavier Spiritline members Tara Kelly, left, and Natalia Gomez Del Campo get ready to unload a vehicle full of food items for a food drive for St. Vincent de Paul (Photo courtesy of Monica Gaspar).
Part of the motivation stemmed from the fact that families might have overstocked their shelves during the COVID virus quarantine, that many of those items would be possibilities for donation.

“The spiritline girls all brought in food and supplies,’’ said Spiritline Head Coach Monica Gaspar.

“We are trying to focus on what we CAN do and this is what they came up with. We are proud of these girls!’’

And so is the Xavier community.

Summer is XCP beach player's time of year

It has been a busy summer for Summer McCann.

An incoming sophomore for the 2020-21 school year at Xavier Prep, she rebounded from having her freshman beach volleyball season cut short as the result of the COVID virus last spring with outstanding play in AVP and AAU tournaments.

Summer McCann (Xavier photo).
On July 30, McCann and her playing partner finished third in the AVP America Juniors National Championship in Atlantic City, N.J.

McCann then headed West to the AAU Beach Volleyball National Championships In Chula Vista, Calif., near San Diego, where she and her playing partner reached the Gold Division semifinal, according to XCP head beach volleyball coach Tim McHale.

Judging from this summer’s effort, McCann should play a significant role when the Gators take to the sand in the spring of 2021.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Fall sports tryouts, competition almost here

Xavier Prep sports are starting to emerge from their months-long hibernation due to the onset of the COVID-19 virus.

Coaches from all sports – fall, winter and spring – will assemble for their annual meeting on Saturday (Aug. 8).

The coaches who can breathe the easiest at this point are those from fall sports, who on Wednesday (Aug. 5) received the go-ahead from the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Executive Board for pre-season tryout dates as well as the first days/weeks of competition and the championship dates.

Of course, all of these plans come with a three-word heads-up: Subject to change. In these days of the new sports order, such vigilance has become a part of daily life.

Xavier’s fall sports are golf, cross country, swimming and diving, badminton, volleyball and freshman tennis.

Here is an initial look at the fall sports calendar:

Golf – First tryouts, Aug. 17. First week of competition, Aug. 24. Championships, Oct. 26-29 (Division I).
Cross country – First tryouts, Aug. 24. First week of competition, Sept. 9. Championships, Nov. 12 and 13.
Swimming and diving – First tryouts, Aug. 24. First week of competition, Sept. 14. Championships, Nov. 5-7.
Badminton – First tryouts, Aug. 31. First week of competition, Sept. 14. Championships, Nov. 7 (Individual) and Nov. 9-12 (Team).
Volleyball – First tryouts, Aug. 31. First week of competition, Sept. 21. Championships, Nov. 12-21.
Freshman tennis – First tryouts, Aug. 31. Competition, Sept. 21 through the end of October.

*Stay with The XCP Files for more details/changes as they become available.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

XCP adds academic award to successful ledger

Xavier Prep's volleyball team was successful in the classroom and on the court (Xavier photo).

There are kills, digs, blocks and serves that can be numerically charted by a volleyball team, but let us not forget another category – grades!!

Xavier Prep’s Gators put an impressive team grade-point average on the board (3.8285) for the 2019-20 school year and for that stellar effort earned a United States Marine Corps/American Volleyball Coaches Association Award.

he USMC and AVCA also recognized XCP head coach Lamar-Renee Bryant for her guidance through the tough times brought about by the COVID-19 virus. The words of recognition said, “Lamar was a critical anchor for players transitioning to and sometimes struggling with remote learning.’’

Congratulations to Coach Bryant and the Gators !!