Four Warriors To Travel To Denver, Witness Retired Lever Jersey

By Iram Arce

From Left to Right: Efrain Estrella, Marissa Orr, Laura Conde & Andrew T. Romero

On December 1, 2017, four Warrior students will travel to Denver to witness former Pueblo student Lafayette “Fat” Lever’s “Retiring of a Jersey” (No. 12) ceremony, accompanied by exceptional education teacher and yearbook advisor Ms. Marie Little and Assistant Principal Frank Rosthenhausler.

Fat Lever

Students may know that Pueblo has a “Lever” Gym, but sadly, many of our current Warriors do not even know Lever about his legendary status—how remarkable this Warrior was back in his high school days and how nationally acclaimed he would become well into the 1990s.

Lever began playing for the Denver Nuggets from 1984-1990, and during those seven seasons, he averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists. A two-time “All Star”, Lever ranks first all-time in franchise history in steals (1,167), second in assists (3,566), seventh in points (8,081) and eighth in rebounds (3,621).

And to think that this former all-star basketball player got his first taste of fame here at Pueblo during two very definitive basketball seasons: 1976-77 and 1977-78; Pueblo’s varsity basketball teams were State Champions for two consecutive years. Today, Lever Gym boasts these victorious seasons with banners that will definitely stand the test of time.

Math teacher Ms. Martha Avila-Miranda was a senior when our varsity Warrior basketball team won their first State championship.

“I have proud and fond memories of my high school years at Pueblo,” Avila-Miranda said, “and it was an exciting time to be a Warrior—especially as a member of the pom/cheer team traveling to all the basketball games. School and community spirit was sky high during the mid and late 1970s.  I definitely remember the basketball team under the direction of coach [Roland] Lavetter and the leadership of Fat Lever, who was very disciplined—and that model of working and playing hard transferred to all who knew them.”

Fat Lever pictured to the right of Coach Lavetter.

She added, “After all of these years, I am so touched to know that our former leaders and heroes have not forgotten their roots and are giving back to our Warrior community. I see many of the team members at different events here at PHS. I just want to say congratulations to Fat and all of his accomplishments. He is another reason that he has made us all proud to be Warriors.”

Lever, a 6’3” point guard, did not begin his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets, however. Two years earlier, Lever was the 11th overall pick in the 1981 draft—selected by the Portland Trailblazers after a successful run playing for the Arizona State University basketball team. (Lever would eventually return to ASU and complete his degree in education in 1996.)

By the time Lever arrived in Denver in 1984, the Nuggets were in desperate need of a miracle. That came in the 1985 season—when Lever helped the team advance to the Western Conference finals. Although the team would lose to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, this season would prove to be the Nuggets’ most successful.

Although Lever played for the Dallas Mavericks from 1990-1994, Lever affirmed in several interviews that his heart was always with the Denver Nuggets. Due to several knee injuries and other circumstances, Lever retired from the NBA in 1994.

Lever later become a broadcaster for the Sacramento [California] Kings from 2007-2014, and eventually he returned to Arizona—Chandler, specifically—where he is currently a consultant in sports and international business. He also works with the Junior NBA program.

Our four Pueblo students—one from each of the media programs (radio, television, journalism and yearbook)—will have the privilege of witness Lever’s jersey being officially “retired” during a halftime Nuggets game on Saturday, Dec. 2.

After two weeks of raising enough money for airfare through many generous donors—and through a lot of tenacity and perseverance!—our Warriors depart from Tucson International Airport at 6 a.m. and will return to Tucson Sunday morning.

Yearbook student Andrew T. Romero, a junior, is the representative from his class and was very instrumental in initiating this trip. Back in October, Romero’s yearbook teacher, Ms. Marie Little, announced to her class that Lafayette (“Fat”) Lever’s jersey was going to be retired at a Denver Nuggets on Dec. 2 and that it would be a great opportunity for several of our Pueblo media students to travel to Denver and interview Lever and be a part of this historical sports moment.

From there, Romero had a conversation with former assistant principal Eduardo Nuñez (who was also a 1960 Pueblo High School graduate), who contacted Lever regarding Lever’s retirement celebration and getting Pueblo students there for this event. From there, Lever contacted Little—and Lever was able to get six media passes to the Dec. 2 Nuggets game. Lever is also taking care of our Warriors’ hotel costs for two nights.

Romero said, “I knew early on that this trip was going to be a possibility, and although I didn’t think I would be selected to participate. However, the universe likes me—I happen to be at the right place at the right time. My grades were low, but I was able to bring them up to passing, and therefore I now became eligible to represent yearbook.”

Romero approached Pueblo Principal Dr. Augustine Romero about this proposition and got his “thumbs up”.

“This trip [to Denver] is a great opportunity for our students!” Principal Romero said. “Lafayette [Lever] was, indeed, very generous!”

Junior Laura Conde, advanced journalism student, learned that she was going after editor-in-chief Iram Arce turned down the opportunity because he had “absolutely no interest in basketball.” Therefore, journalism teacher Mr. Rana Medhi selected Laura because of her excellent journalism skills.

“I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high,” Conde said, “because the whole thing seemed kind of far-fetched. But, now that we have our Southwest Airlines tickets, it’s definitely real. I’m looking forward to the interviewing process—obviously the most important story I’ll be writing.”

Radio student Marissa Orr, a senior, “When Ms. Wilson told me to go outside with Ms. Little, I thought I was framed or something. But, then I found out that I was selected to be the representative of radio to travel to Denver. This is an awesome opportunity for me—and I feel honored and privileged to have been selected by Ms. Wilson to represent radio.

Television student Efrain Estrella, another senior, said, “I feel very blessed and very lucky to be selected to go on this trip because it is a really big opportunity to not only for myself but my peers who will be coming along with me. This trip means a great deal to Pueblo High School as a whole, too.”

Ms. Marie Little, who will be co-escorting the students to Denver, said, “After the initial phone call, Lever was making contacts to ensure that all costs could be covered. Unfortunately, he was unable to secure airfare costs, so we had eight days to raise money to fly us six to Denver.”

Little said that in just eight days, she and the four students were able to raise $2,385—much of which came from current and former Pueblo faculty and staff members.

“We are beyond overwhelmed by the generosity of the Pueblo community,” Little said.

Mr. Frank Rosthenhausler, the other co-escort, said, “The entire Pueblo community is very excited about this trip. It’s awesome that our students are learning part of Pueblo’s history and also participating in the Denver Nuggets’ history. Very few students will ever get this kind of opportunity.”

Rosthenhausler added that he was a bit skeptical at first regarding the prospect of Ms. Little and students raising money for the air fare.

“The airline tickets were a hefty price, but they pulled it off,” he said. “I love how they were able to achieve this goal in such a short time.”

The entire Pueblo community anxiously awaits the students’ return to Pueblo to hear the highlights of this historical moment in sports history. The fact that Lever began his rise to athletic stardom and legendary sports acclaim right here at Pueblo makes this story even that much more powerful.

Varsity Football Sails to 4-2; Remains Hopeful For 4 Last Games

By Esperanza Landeros

Pueblo vs. Rincon ready to kick off season

As of week six of the varsity football season, our Warriors have cruised into a 4-2 record, one of the more successful seasons in recent years—and celebrating some very triumphant moments along the way.

The season began on Friday, Aug. 18—at Rincon. Pueblo was a heavy favorite to win—and that is exactly what our Warriors did. The final score was 58-0! This game definitely set the tone for a winning season.

A week later, on Friday, Aug. 25, Pueblo was victorious again. After 28 years, the Warriors edged out the Sunnyside Blue Devils, with a final score of 7-6. Junior Omar Ibañez was known as “Sunnyside’s Nightmare” that evening for completing countless sacks. In fact, he earned “Player of the Week” and was interviewed on Channel 4 (KVOA).

The winning streak continued—as we hosted the Cholla Chargers for the first time in recent years. This evening coincided with Pueblo’s Homecoming on Friday, Sept. 8. Omar Ibañez had six touchdowns during the game, and our Warriors slaughtered the Chargers with a final score of 66-46. Coach Sanders said, “We prepared ourselves and worked hard. Also, we knew what we were doing—offensively and defensively.”

Unfortunately, the undefeated Warriors were devastated after their first loss of the season when they played the next week, on Friday, Sept. 15, as the Walden Grove Red Wolves devoured Pueblo, with a final score of 40-8. “Despite the loss, players stayed positive and continued to fight like the Warriors we are,” said senior Ernesto Estopellan.

Game Five of the season also proved to be heartbreaking—as Pueblo traveled to Salpointe Catholic High School. Although the Warriors lost this game by a score of 42-0, the loss allowed them to become even more motivated to be triumphant during their next game. Many defensive players needed to improve their tackling skills.

The Warriors did, indeed, come back fiercer than before—playing Rio Rico on Thursday, Sept. 28. Senior Raúl German completed three sacks, and defense put up a great fight and didn’t let any of the Hawks come through our Warriors. In the end, our Warriors had the Hawks flying back to their nest. Junior Ruben Rivera scored three touchdowns alone in this game, and the offense also did great, but senior quarterback Dominic Carrillo had difficulty completing the passes to add more to the scoreboard. The final score was 35-0.

The Warriors still have four games left this season, including Friday, Oct. 6. The team wishes that we continue to have our Warriors support us at each of these games.

Look In The Sky…It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…No, It’s Our Drone!

By Angelita Delcido

Pueblo Drone Flyby

On March 29, 2017, during 4th period (and first lunch for some), Pueblo’s CTE Graphic and Web Design teacher, Mr. Ernesto Somoza, gathered all of the spring sports girls’ teams—including soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball (as well as Cheer)—to celebrate their upcoming “AIA Tony Komadina Award” with a group picture.

This picture was taken a little unusual; in fact, a drone snapped the picture in effort to “stay in the current world,” Somoza explained. “[The drone] is a fairly new consumer product,” he added. “A year ago, the drone wasn’t as prominent as now.”

Freshman (Class of 2020) Jacquelyn Gutierrez, a member of Cheer this season, was part of the crowd.  “It was exciting to be part of this event,” Gutierrez said. “I felt inclusive with Pueblo—like I was a member of this great school, like I was really connected to the school. As a freshman, this is a great feeling because I think we all come into high school and feel a little left out. But, that’s all changed now.”

Another freshman (Class of 2020) Alina Cuen, member of cheer, also took part of the crowd photo and said, “I felt special and proud to represent Pueblo. The drone was definitely a unique way to take our pictures. Mr. Somoza was brilliant to have thought of this approach.”

Sophia Shivers, a freshman (Class of 2020), was on this season’s girls’ JV basketball team said, “Even though it was really hot that afternoon, I felt cool to represent Pueblo’s girls’ sports programs.  The drone was cool, too, and I think that this is how future group pictures should be taken.”

Sophomore (Class of 2019) Yazmin Almazan, a member of the girls’ JV volleyball team this season, said that she felt a sense of unity with the other girls at Pueblo, and she loved the drone!

“The drone took some very unique shots of us—pictures that a person would never be able to take. I hope that the drone is used again to take more interesting pictures,” Almazan said.

Pueblo Warriors Football Hopes For Better Season In 2017

  

by Angelita Delcido and Daniela Moreno

Pueblo’s football team finished off the season with a winning record of 6-4, which was slightly disappointing compared to last year’s record. However, the team did score a major victory over Palo Verde for the second year in a row.

Despite a less than stellar season, Coach Brandon Sanders was proud of his team and how well they played this season.

Sanders said, “We played good this year, being a young team.”

Impressed with his young teams determination, senior linebacker Anthony Garcia said,”I’m really proud of how devoted we were, being as young as we were.”

Sanders hopes that for next year his team will grow not only physically but mentally as well.

“My hope is that the players this year grow to have more commitment [to football],” said Sanders.

Senior Anthony Garcia leaves his team with confidence knowing the varsity team will do even better next year.

Boys Soccer 2016-2017—High Goals, Again!

  

By Lauren Ahern and Nayeli Sanchez

The boys’ soccer team started off the 2016-17 season with a loss in the Panther Invitational, but they refused to let this loss stop them from trying to repeat their status as Arizona State Champions last year. Despite a disappointing record of 1-4 (as Dec. 16), the team is tenacious about having a winning season.

Alexis Urtuzastetegui, a senior, has been a part of the Warrior soccer team since his freshman year, and this year, as a center-mid, is also the team captain.

“This year, our goal is to make it to State again, but more realistically we’re hoping to make it to the playoffs,” said Urtuzastetgui.

He added that he believes that the strengths within the team is their strong communication skills, and that communication will, indeed, be an asset that will career the team to great heights.

Coach Francisco Urtuzastetgui agrees with his son—“Everybody is like family, and with that positive attitude, the team will be successful whatever their record ends up being.”

The coach also added that in order for the team to be truly successful this season, team members need to put in 110% effort—not just 100%. The boys also need to focus more and concentrate on their positive qualities.

He added, “We [the team and I] have to take into consideration that it’s a new team—last year was different and exceptional. Every team is a little different, and no two teams are ever quite the same.”

Several of the players need to work on their techniques, Urtuzastegui said. There are also some tactics that need to be developed. Some players are not as experienced and need more time on the field.

Urtuzastetgui concluded with, “I am very proud of the players for the effort they’re putting in, even though we haven’t reached our objectives yet. A season is about development and getting better all of the time.” He paused and added, “I have trust in faith in them.”

The team recently played Desert View on December 15; unfortunately, our Warriors lost.

Varsity Girls Soccer 2016-2017: Out To Redeem Themselves

  

By Iram Arce and Alex Pesqueira

On Thursday, December 8, 2016 the varsity girls’ soccer team went head to head against Saguaro High School at a home game; unfortunately, we came out short with a score of 6-1.

Regardless of the loss, our girls came out with their heads held up high, knowing that they lost but gave it their all.

“It was a good game because we successfully worked as a team,” said senior Avae Velasquez, varsity soccer player. “Although we gave it our all, we still need to stay on our [ the opposing team] girls. The other team had better [soccer] shooters, but other than that we were better at communicating.”

Leaving the stadium with an unexpected loss has not discouraged the team; instead, this loss only motivated the girls to try harder the next time they compete.

According to senior Anna Verdugo, one of the team’s three captains of the varsity girls’ soccer team, the girls have started to work harder in their daily after school practices. The coach constantly motivates them to fix past mistakes and increase team chemistry.

“We may have lost now, but now we know how to improve from any mistakes we did out in the field that day,” Verdugo said. “We’re not giving up this season.”