Shy Ghara
ASU Student Journalist

How Marcos de Niza’s sports programs powered through the pandemic

November 16, 2022 by Shy Ghara, Arizona State University

The 2021-2022 Padres boys basketball team plays against crosstown rival Tempe (Andrew Lwowski/

Shy Ghara is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Marcos de Niza for

Despite the drawbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Padres sports teams managed to still thrive during that time through their sense of community and respect for one another.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a difficult time for every person, and one could argue that it had the most detrimental impact on the nation's youth. 

Last year was the first full year of something resembling normalcy for many schools, including Marcos de Niza. This came after high school students weren't able to interact and spend time with each other in person, resorting to virtual learning in 2020. The lack of socialization really took a toll on many at Marcos de Niza. 

The school's sports programs knew how important it was for their students to continue with them in order for them to thrive.

One way that the Padres returned to their sports to normalcy was not limiting the capacity of fans at their events, and they allowed teams to practice and play. 

Although safety precautions were a priority, the school did a great job of balancing that without acting too fearful of not letting their programs get back to where they once operated. 

But what really helped return the school’s sporting programs back to normal, beyond the school’s actions, was both the community around the school and the values instilled in Marcos de Niza’s sports. 

The school's athletic director Lenica Ruiz mentioned the importance of having pride in the community and within the teams themselves. 

“‘Padres enter with pride and respect.’ That is our mission statement. You respect your opponent, you respect your peer, you respect your teacher, you respect in the community," Ruiz said. “Regardless, you just know how you need to conduct and represent yourself.”

That message emphasizing respect around everyone in the school and community that has kept everything intact.

That respect was prevalent before and after the pandemic, and it made the return to normalcy in each respective sport a lot easier because it created chemistry between the players. 

The Padres girls volleyball head coach Fernando Vital always talked about how the most rewarding part of his job was seeing that chemistry between his athletes, even during a tough season this past year. 

“The best part of the season was when they came together and got their first win together and seeing the joy in their faces was amazing," Vital said.

The fact that the sports teams have the mindset that it is not just about the wins and losses. It's more about the life lessons that have been instilled in them, has kept the sports at the school in a great place. 

Jasen Evoy, the fine arts chairman, noted that the athletes at the school all have a level of expectation that they are supposed to follow, and that is what allows them to thrive.

“We really hold them to a high academic standard. There’s a huge piece there that helps to kind of build the whole individual," Evoy said. 

It is because Marcos de Niza values the building of the whole individual that has created athletes with positive characteristics extending past their respective sport. It is these values of respect, community and being the best person one can be that has retained the consistency of sports at the school. 

Therefore, no pandemic can diminish the instilled values of Marcos de Niza's student-athletes.