In a rare move in Arizona high school basketball, Safford has hired a woman to lead its boys basketball program.
Sheri Camarena was recently named Safford’s boys varsity basketball coach.
She won’t be the only woman leading a boys high school basketball program in Arizona next school year.
Sahuarita Walden Gove hired Jen Meza as its boys basketball coach. She was the girls basketball coach last season and is currently the girls volleyball coach.
A woman leading boys basketball teams is not unheard of.
Three years ago, Michelle Berry led both Tucson The Gregory School’s boys and girls basketball teams at the same time. She won 45 games in her two seasons leading the boys.
Camarena, who also is the girls volleyball and tennis coach at Safford, did not return messages.
Athletic Director Toni Corona sent a school release on Camarena’s hiring this week, stating, ““We are excited to have Coach Camarena on board because of the experience and expertise she will bring to our program.
“She is a well-respected leader in our school and community,”
Safford’s basketball team went 14-14 last season.
Berry applauds this move by Safford.
“I think overcoming gendered stereotypes about toughness — ‘Would I be tough enough on the boys?’ — was the main obstacle,” Berry said. ” ‘Can a woman know the men’s game well enough?’ is another question that comes up. Both are just silly. But such is the world we live in.
“I’m not surprised (Corona) made this gutsy choice. And it is gutsy. Hope the new coach has great success.”
Meza said she is giving up the girls basketball program to lead the boys with the same mindset.
“I was lucky in the sense that I was able to get a feel for the boys program during our spring open gym workouts,” she said. “Regardless of the gender, however, I always have a growth mindset philosophy.
“I expect the student-athletes to work hard, push themselves every day and learn through failures. This is something I think they can take with them when they are no longer playing high school sports. I am looking forward to the intensity and pace of the game on the boys side and I am excited for this opportunity.”