Pima College Notebook

Pima AD Soto looks back on student-athlete successes, ahead to funding questions

2014-05-28T00:00:00Z Pima AD Soto looks back on student-athlete successes, ahead to funding questionsBy Zack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Pima College’s athletics calendar closed out this month with a pair of of playoff losses.

The baseball team lost 7-2 to South Mountain on May 3. A week later, Arizona Western beat Pima’s softball team 6-0.

Disappointing, sure. But when athletics director Edgar Soto looks back on those two teams’ seasons — along with the overall 2013-14 athletics calendar — he’s not just counting wins and losses.

“I look for individual stories; I look at our academic success,” Soto said. “I look at development — like if the young people we got here develop and left here and grew up and learned some things. Because I think we play a vital role in their lives.

“They come to us at a time in their life when structure and discipline is needed in their life. We can offer that and give them a path to be successful and get them ready for the next level. That’s how I measure our success. Wins and losses are gonna be a byproduct of doing things right.”

The ex-Arizona Western College and University of New Mexico baseball player specifically cited Murphy Gershman, the Tucson High School product who transitioned from handyman and plumber to All-ACCAC basketball player; Eddie Wilcox, a standout track and field athlete headed to the University of North Texas next year; Raja Moreno-Ross, also from Tucson High, who was an All-American this year and is committed to the University of Hawaii; softball star Alexis Dotson, another All-American after hitting .516; and Brianna Rodriguez (Cienega), who recently won a national championship in the long jump.

All in all, it was a pretty good year for the Aztecs, Soto said. The Star spoke with him to recap the year and to find out what lies ahead:

On Gershman: “You look at his story and what he’s been through — he’s doing well now. That’s a huge story.”

On Moreno-Ross: “You look at Raja, not just on the basketball court, but when she got here academically. There were some things she needed to get done, and she got them all done, and is still taking some classes this summer. But I feel like she’s ready to go. She’s ready to be successful wherever she goes, but I think she got a good foundation here at Pima.”

On what needs improvement: “We’re going to have to figure out funding. Success comes at a cost. When you’re sending more teams to playoffs, to nationals, funding is going to be a challenge for us in the upcoming years. So we have to figure it out and work with the college here in a way — at a good level — that we can still be able to be competitive and do things correctly and have a good facility, good training room, good athletics equipment.

“So I think that’s going to be a challenge, because with enrollment down a little bit, that’s how we’re funded. We’re funded through tuition fees, so I think we’re going to have to work hard as a college to keep, not just recruiting athletes, but we better make sure we’re a place where not just athletes want to come but everyone just looks at Pima as an option. We need to improve on our ability to fund-raise and do those type of things to keep our programs running at a high level.”

On Jim Monaco, Pima’s interim head football coach: “Monaco is out there working hard. He’s recruiting, he’s doing everything he needs to be doing. He’s putting in the time and effort, so I’m excited to see what happens this next year. But I’ll tell you what, in terms of effort and time and hard work, he’s doing everything he needs to do.”

Inside pitch

  • Outfielder
  • Victoria Mariscal
  • verbally committed to play at Western Carolina. Mariscal batted .388 for Pima this year, led the team in RBIs (48) and doubles (20), and tied for the team lead in home runs (six) and walks (24).
  • Dotson was selected to the NJCAA Division I Marucci Elite Hitters team.
  • Former Pima softball player
  • Jessica Sipe
  • (Mountain View HS) won a Division II national championship Monday. Sipe plays for West Texas A&M, where she hit .388 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs this year.
  • Former Aztecs
  • Keith Zuniga
  • (Nogales HS) and
  • Bryant Mu
  • ñ
  • oz
  • (Tucson High) will play in the NCAA Division I baseball regionals for Bethune-Cookman, who will play at Miami (Fla.) on Friday. Zuniga is 7-4 with a 2.59 ERA this year, and Mu
  • ñ
  • oz is hitting .305 in 131 at-bats.

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